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SMI Around The World: Nneka’s spiritual musical journey

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Nneka at Nectar Lounge (Photo: Christina Leiva)

SMI contributor Christina Leiva explores the world music scene in and around the Puget Sound.

Nneka Egbuna, one of Africa’s top singers, has released her debut album, Fairytales, a concept album that focuses primarily on universal love, forgiveness and the political instability in Nigeria. Nneka is a passionate singer/songwriter who delves into the marrow of life, and isn’t afraid to express her opinions about the injustices happening not only in Nigeria, but globally. Her lyrics are provocative, powerful and creatively written to a unique blend of Afrobeat, Reggae, Hip Hop and Soul.

At the age of 19, she courageously left Warri, a small town located off the Delta coast of Nigeria, and made her way to Germany where she studied music. During her career, she has collaborated with various artists, including Ziggy and Damian Marley, Nas, Lenny Kravitz, and made a special appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman.

Nneka recently came to Seattle and gave a soulful and moving performance at the Nectar Lounge. It was an evening full of dancing, grooving, and at times, silence – when she would spontaneously share a philosophical message, prompting spontaneous reflection from the audience.

The Nigerian songstress walked on stage dressed in jeans and white sneakers – and wearing an African printed scarf around her head like a Hijab. Perhaps she was intentionally forcing the listener to focus more on the experience of her music, than to her striking beauty. Nneka’s songs are colorful and spiritual. The upbeat rhythms of her unique Afrobeat blend made for a joyous evening, and left the audience feeling inspired and energized.

She closed the show with her #1 UK hit single, “Heartbeart,” from her album, Concrete Jungle. The song was inspired by the political hardships in Nigeria and the oppression her people face daily by a corrupt government.

Northwest artists, Naomi Wachira and Publish The Quest performed earlier in the evening, providing a great complement to Nneka’s performance. Wachira’s African folk blend and Publish The Quest’s reggae styling added colorful flavor to a night of great world music.

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Christina's passion for travel and multi-cultural experiences have taken her across the globe. Her taste in music mirrors her passions. Christina takes SMI readers "Around The World" with her beautiful photography and eloquently written words, as she covers some of the best world music in and around the Puget Sound.