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"Art is born from tension. And this tension is something that Seattle folk singer and songwriter Naomi Wachira feels every day as an African living in America. It’s the tension of any artist torn between two worlds, and the only way to overcome this is to create something that overcomes the divide. That’s why Naomi’s songs are so hopeful; they point toward a better future for all of us."
There’s no doubt that there’s a better future in store for Naomi, especially after her great breakout year in 2013. Named the Best Folk Singer in Seattle by alt publication Seattle Weekly and featured on their cover, Naomi became the toast of the town, which in turn led to a friendship with the much-loved indie songwriter Damien Jurado, who came onboard to produce her debut full length CD released in January 2014, a self-titled portrait of a Kenyan artist at home in the Pacific Northwestern United States.
When you listen to Naomi’s songs, you’ll hear the lifelong influence of two powerful, groundbreaking female songwriters: Miriam Makeba and Tracy Chapman. Makeba became one of the biggest stars on the continent through her socially aware songwriting, something she shared closely with American songwriter Tracy Chapman. Chapman was a voice for social change as well, but Naomi loved her positive idealism, a concept that informs all the songs on Naomi’s album. Makeba’s also a personal icon for Naomi, who cites “the way she carried herself, her grace and character,” as influencers. “She was able to maintain her integrity as an African. She didn’t need to change who she was to fit with Western audiences.” That’s why you won’t hear any stereotypical African music on Naomi’s debut. She’s making music inspired both by the music she discovered in America and the music she grew up with in Kenya, not a Western conception of how African music should sound.
Her first single for London Tone Music, part of their 52x52 label launch is the reggae-infused & infectious, This is Love. When asked about the roots of the song, Naomi explained, “I decided that I wanted to offer a lighter version of myself since the music from my first album was heavy with a lot social issues. I was entering a new season in my life where I felt like I was ready to find love and this was one of the first songs I wrote. I also wanted to remind myself that real love is about finding someone who is your equal, who can challenge you to become the best of yourself, who you can go into these deep places with you and share all the good and bad about your existence. “
Recorded at London Bridge Studio with Producer/Engineer Geoff Ott at the helm with fellow-Kenyan, trumpeter Owour Arunga co-producing the track. “Working with Owour is something I've been dreaming about for quite sometime and this felt like the perfect song for our first collaboration, “ Naomi gushed, “I love the ideas he brought to texturize the song with his trumpet - I was freaking out a little when he was recording his parts. He's just so brilliant!”
Finally, Naomi has some other musicians influencing her lately. “ I've been listening almost religiously to James Blake and Sam Smith the last 8 months, she mentioned, adding, “I've fallen in love with James Blake and how he weaves all these different elements, and yet has a way of making things feel/sound so simple. And Sam Smith has probably one of the best male voices I've heard in a while.”