Nneka – (Nigeria)

Born: December 24, 1980 (age 32)

Nneka Lucia Egbuna is a Nigerian-German hip hop/soul singer and songwriter. She sings in both Igbo and English. Nneka is the daughter of an Anambra state Nigerian father, and German mother. She was born and raised in Warri, in the Delta region of Nigeria, and went to the primary school of the Delta Steel Company, then attended secondary school at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. Nneka relished the experience of singing from an early age in her school and in the church choir. After relocating to Hamburg, Germany, at the age of 18, she pursued a career in singing alongside a degree in Anthropology at the University of Hamburg. 

Nneka‘s songs may begin with personal experiences and homegrown sentiments, but global appeal imbues her music and its messages. She transcends boundaries, both geographic and aesthetic. Since 2003 Nneka has been working closely with the hip hop beatmaker DJ Farhot, a producer living in Hamburg. As a young singer she first gained public attention in 2004 while performing as an opening act for dancehall reggae star Sean Paul at Hamburg Stadtpark. After much acclaim, Nneka was given a green light to record her first album.

With its marriage of timeless grooves, contemporary technology, and 21st century black consciousness, her 2005 debut Victim Of Truth was lauded by the British press. “As good as The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” trumpeted The Sunday Times. Its 2008 follow-up, No Longer At Ease, impressed rock star Lenny Kravitz so profoundly that he immediately tapped her to accompany him on tour. In 2010, selections from both albums—including the international hit “Heartbeat”—were compiled for her US debut, Concrete Jungle, which showed North America what the rest of the world already knew: Nneka is a unique, formidable talent to be reckoned with. (http://www.nnekaworld.com)

When she explains her journey from selling akara and beans in the Warri markets to the alternative music circuits in Europe, “I want to change Africa, that’s why I open my mouth and sing. There is so much to do in education and with the youth. And even if I share my time between Nigeria and Hamburg, I still feel 100% engaged in helping my fellow-Nigerians. Back home I was living in misery and running away from the truth,” she confides. “That’s why I call my album Victim of Truth. I’ve been comfortable in a bunch of lies (…) And the title is all about the hypocrisy, corruption, injustices and so-called democracy I had to live with when I was growing up in Warri.” It was only when Nneka fled to Germany (the country of her mother) – “for personal reasons”, she says, with a hint of tragedy – that she started to come into contact with her true self.  (http://www.nnekaworld.com)

On “My Home,” triumphant brass and uplifting reggae rhythms illuminate the singer’s journey into the heart of darkness and an uncertain future. “That song is about your quest, searching for a place in life to feel comfortable, and not knowing where to go. And, in the end, realizing there is actually no peace on Earth until you accept that both bad and good are part of life. There is never total happiness, only a search for a healthy equilibrium between two extremes.”

On the album’s centerpiece, the insistent “J,” Nneka scrutinizes her own actions and motives alongside those of her fellow man. Amidst much soul-searching, she strives to project positive energy into the universe, and perform feats of emotional alchemy. “If you approach me with hatred, I will approach you with love. I have to be strong enough to transform that hate into love. And the more you hate me, the more I will love you, and the more I will make you love me.”

In front of a full house of devoted fans, she broke down and cried, swept away by the emotion of a rare communion between artist and public. “I’ve come from so far, you know? Back home I didn’t know if I would be able to eat tomorrow. And I was let down so often. My passion? I suppose it comes from deception, pain and a form of culture clash. Thank god music is there. It’s like a branch that has never let me down. With music I can tell the truth without being flogged for it.” (Victim Of Truth)

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