Nnekea is a wonderful AfroGerman singer songwriter. I think she would prefer me to describe her as a Nigerian artist residing in Germany, though. But this is how I perceived her and how I interpreted her music when I first heard her fantastic album a few months ago.
When I first discovered her through a friend I was surprised about her total commitment to the African cause in her music. As a child of a German mother and a Nigerian father I had interpreted her to be like most AfroGermans, i.e. having a German upbringing.
Not Nneka. She was born and raised in Nigeria. And not just that, she grew up in Warri, in the Delta region of Nigeria. A place in Nigeria where the terrible consequences of the oil industry for the local population is undeniable. She has seen all this with her own eyes as a child and teenager and now expresses it through her art.
Nneka came to Germany as a 19 year old and settled in the city of Hamburg. Although she stated in an Arte interview that she does speak German, she prefers to do her interviews in English. A language she feels more comfortable with.
Last year Nneka released a n album on which you will find a list of wonderful tracks ranging from genres like hip hop, reggae, soul, afrobeat and more. Her great voice brings you deep lyrics about globalization, love, Africa, poverty, identity, … it all feels very much authentic.
This summer she could be seen on many festivals throughout Europe. I saw her live at the Nice jazz Festival in the south of France. She was the first act of that day. Just her, a drummer, a bas, a guitar and a synth.
She brought us a perfect and heavily emotional set with not only songs from her album but also new tracks. She caught the audience right through their soul with music most of them never had heard before. The intensity and honesty she brought in her songs was so beautiful it made me think of the video’s I had seen from Bob Marley concerts; Nneka is very real and makes music that literally comes from the heart and the soul.
I advice everyone who loves good soul music to check out what she does. Several videos and interviews can be seen on YouTube. And here your can read an article from the Daily Telegraph in 2006.
Nneka - Heartbeat
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