Nneka Egbuna was born on December 24th, 1981 in Warri, in the Delta region of Nigeria. Her father is Igbo Nigerian and mother is German. Nneka sings in both her native Igbo and English. Throughout her childhood, she attended primary school and was heavily active in her church choir. While growing up in Nigeria, she was exposed and lived through some of the corrupt elements of her government and extreme actions of the oil companies that exploited the workers and townspeople. She always wrote poems and songs shedding some light on the atrocities and to escape her daily woes as a teenager.
Upon graduating from high school, she relocated to Hamburg, Germany where she attended the University of Hamburg and earned a degree in Anthropology. Nneka also pursued music where she hooked up with producer DJ Farhot, a producer living in Hamburg. In 2004, she released her debut EP “The Uncomfortable Truth,” generating a buzz in countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland. When her first full-length disc “Victim of Truth” released, it was well received in Germany, England, France, Netherlands, Nigeria and Japan. From then, Nneka toured non-stop, performing at festivals like the Chiemsee Reggae Summer, Haarlem, Den Haag, Saint-Brieuc; as well as in cities like Paris, Amsterdam, and London. Nneka opened for artists such as Femi Kuti, Bilal, Seeed, and Gnarls Barkley.
Nneka’s second album, “No Longer at Ease,” was taken from a novel of the same name by author Chinua Achebe. The majority of the disc was about the political uprising and corruption of her country, Nigeria. Critics began hailing her as the next Bob Marley and Lauryn Hill. Again, the positive press and hit singles on “Ease” allowed her join rocker Lenny Kravitz to open for him during his European tour in 2009.
“Concrete Jungle” is one of the best recordings I’ve listened to so far in 2010. Her debut single “The Uncomfortable Truth” isn’t Top 40 or R & B oriented. In fact, this entire disc is a fusion of her native Nigerian roots music, Caribbean, Afro-beat, Soul, and Hip-Hop.
Nneka’s live performance was indeed authentic and personal. She performed a song titled “V.I.P” that relied on audience participation. The song was about the corrupt nature of the petroleum companies in Nigeria and how the politics of these industries are leaving the common, everyday people left out to dry. During the entire performance, she paints listeners a detailed picture of her experiences both in Africa and Germany, and often you couldn’t hear a pin drop as she was singing.
Nneka sounds almost like vocalist Randy Crawford and when she plays, her presence is personal and candid. There’s a folk element, mixed the world music and Afro-Beat presence in her music. This seems to be her drawing power in the both the small and large venues she continues to perform in all over the world. So, to compare Nneka to Bob, Lauryn, and Nina; is unfair. Nneka doesn’t want to be either of them. Yeah, it’s safe to say their influences do surface in her music at times, but just listen to songs like “Africans” or “Heartbeat” and you’ll throw those comparisons out the window.
Nneka is one of the freshest talents to hit the music scene in a long time. She’s a growth in process. Each disc is entirely different from all of her other projects and refuses to stay in that mainstream “box” of the the record industry. Make sure you support this sista and buy her debut American release “Concrete Jungle.”
To find out her upcoming tour dates visit her on the web at nnekaworld.com.
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