Recording artist NAIRA blends love, pain, strength, and energy into one powerful punch with her FEARLESS style of music, self-coined Urban-Soul. Pulling from influences of blues, afro-pop, hip-hop and r&b, she is the pulse of everything urban. Her youthful and dynamic energy aligns with the mantra: “Be brave. Be Inspired. Be YOU... Be FEARLESS”.
AM: Thank you NAIRA for taking the time to chat with ADUNAGOW Magazine and its worldwide readers. For those who don’t know you yet, can you present yourself? (where are you from, where do you live and how long, and what do you do)
NAIRA: I am Nigerian American currently residing in Atlanta, GA and I am a recording artist, songwriter, and cinematographer.
AM: “NAIRA”: What’s the meaning of your name?
NAIRA: My name is an acronym that stands for “Nigerian American I Represent Africa”
AM: How many languages do you speak? Which ones?
NAIRA: I speak 3 languages - English of course, Yoruba and Spanish
AM: Something about you that people will never guess?
NAIRA: (Laughing) My favorite pair of shoes are Pokemon slippers.
AM: When you’re not working, what are your favorite things to do?
NAIRA: I love love love to read, bake, sleep! I’m always busy doing something so 10-12 hours of sleep is not always an option, but when I can its marathonesque. Me and my bed are in a long distance relationship!
AM: When did you start singing? What captivated you to becoming a performing artist?
NAIRA: My professional career or development stages started when I was a Sophomore in high school. I recorded my first songs on a bootleg tape deck in my room with the doors locked and my first real composition was on an old electric piano. There’s this feeling that you get when you create something that can move you and someone else simultaneously. That connection is electricity up and down your spine! That feeling is what captivated me and performing live set it all in motion.
NAIRA: Throughout my senior year in high school, I was on tour with an organized called ARCH Productions (Artists Raising the Conscious of Humanity). We performed for thousands of people including the Mayors and such. I felt my life was purposeful and my direction in the creative arts was set. Gbammm! I said, “This is what I wanna do mom and dad” and forward I went.
AM: What style of music do you prefer most and why?
NAIRA: I don’t have a preference. I just love great music. I grew up listening to music from almost every popular genre: fuji, pop, gospel, alternative rock, funk, jazz, hiphop, soul, afrojuju etc...
AM: Can you tell us what artists have influenced you most in your career?
NAIRA: Sade, Prince, Lauryn Hill, Fela Kuti, and Michael Jackson
AM: What can you tell us about your 3rd studio album “FEARLESS: The Art of Letting Go”? What do you portray in this title?
NAIRA: Its a very personal project... Every song is like a layer of clothing being removed off of me and when its completed I’ll be bare. Heart and mind exposed. Its about the process of channeling fear and transforming it into courage. The courage to dream, to create, to live, to love, and push past my current reality and make a new one based off my dreams.
AM: Is your family musical?
NAIRA: No, not exactly. My parents are big music lovers and initially I was the only one bit by the music bug, but now my sister has also been honing her skills as a producer and songwriter. She actually produced a song on the album titled “Naked”.
AM: Do you get nervous before a performance or a competition?
AM: What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?
NAIRA: Remember that even if the crowd knows the words to your songs they’ve come to see you do it a bit differently. Use your that to your advantage and an opportunity to have fun. Before I hop on stage I try to tap into that feeling I got when I created the song so I can deliver it with that same passion.
AM: What do you like most about your profession?
NAIRA: I like being able to affect someone’s life positively and the creative process as well. Its like a new pair of wings.
AM: What do you like least?
NAIRA: The notion that you have to be exploited by someone in order to be successful. Success is a process. There are wins and also losses.
AM: How has becoming an artist changed your life? How have you changed?
NAIRA: I’ve always been an artist in some way, but as I’ve developed
AM: What are you listening to lately?
NAIRA: My current playlist consists of a mix of Iman Omari, J*Davey, Mickey Factz, Kanye West, Muhsinah, Ryan Leslie, Kendrick Lamar, Asa, Theophilus London and Naeto C.
AM: Are there any songs you’ve done that you wish you hadn’t?
AM: In your opinion, what’s the number one issue to deal with in Africa? What’s your take (solution) on it?
NAIRA: Corruption, because its so deeply rooted in the hearts of Africans at large the only solution is for the people to revolt. I think we’ve forgotten the power that we have when we you unite for a common cause. We did it almost 52 years ago...
AM: About Africa: what will you keep? What will you change?
NAIRA: Our culture is one of the most precious things we as Nigerians have. When our principles align with our intelligence, charisma and confidence anyone that’s met a Nigerian anywhere in the world has a lasting impression. I sound really arrogant hunh?! By far I’m not, but SEE! Gbam!! I’ve got your attention Hmmmm... Nigerians!
AM: Do you often visit the motherland?
AM: What’s your favorite summer vacation?
NAIRA: I’m usually working and travelling during the summer, but when I need to air out my head and rest I like visit family in California or Sharpsburg.
THE MIC IS YOURS
AM: How hard do you push yourself?
NAIRA: Sometimes too hard! When I’m passionate about something I go for hours and hours without sleep or food. Not quite the healthiest approach, but tell that to my heart! Its a perfectionist that goes hard for what she believes in.
AM: When are you completely satisfied with your work?
NAIRA: Its just a feeling of completion... Can’t quite explain it.
AM: What’s the magic formula for success?
NAIRA: When opportunity meets preparation.
AM: Any words of wisdom for all our aspiring singers out there?
NAIRA: Music and Entertainment are no stroll in the park. Dedicate and groom yourself for greatness in every way possible. A king/queen is very different from your average person. They’ve been groomed for the position to hold for a lifetime not a season. Your career is the same.
Thank you NAIRA for taking the time to chat with us. We wish you plenty of success and wisdom in your career.
ADUNAGOW Magazine: MAR/APR 2012 Issue
MAR/APR 2012 Issue of ADUNAGOW Magazine. Exclusive interview with Recording artist NAIRA. Also in this issue, the new South Africa's Afro-Soul Queen Lira's bio, and coverage of the upcoming Africa Movie Academy Awards 2012. Much more inside!