In an era when amapiano music is so popular among Namibians – young and old – multifaceted artist NaJah takes solace in the fact that there is a place for every genre of music in the world.
Real name Johanna Tommasi, NaJah said it is indeed tough to compete against mainstream music, but says her music is unique and centred on an independent Namibia.
“I think of myself as a rare commodity – a gem,” she tells VIBEZ!
The songwriter, guitarist and creative director’s music encompasses multiple genres, ranging from reggae, blues, Shambo and a bit of soul.
NaJah (36), narrated how growing up, she admired Namibian artists Ras Sheehama and the late Jackson Kaujeua as well as the late South African reggae icon Lucky Dube.
“These men inspired me. I was glued to the screen watching Sheehama play the guitar. It was so beautifully melodic, and that’s when I knew what I wanted to do,” she said with a twinkle in her eye.
Active in the industry since 2013, she launched her debut album ‘Too Blessed to Stress’ earlier this year after almost four years of working on it.
With the help of her band, she worked on the album with the aim to give hope to those who have lost it.
“It also contains a song titled ‘Carry on’ that motivates you to carry on with your journey, keep the fire burning, and discover your true self,” a song she reckons is one of the best on the album.
“I started working on my album in 2018 when I finally met the producer of all my music – Danny Azangi. I chose him because I felt he understood me more, he knew my style, and I knew his. There were a lot of setbacks financially but after the pandemic, I decided to let go,” she shared.
Since launching the album in February, NaJah said the public’s response to it has been encouraging.
“My album is available online at Donlu Africa – a Namibian music promotion site – and the downloads and sales are looking good so far. As an independent artist, marketing and distribution are a challenge. However, there is progress.”
She studied African Performing Arts at the College of the Arts and majored in music theory and guitar, and also learned how to play the African drums, marimba and mbira.
NaJah loves live shows, as they allow her to express her thoughts and feelings in front of a live audience.
“I do most of my shows in restaurants, although I feel I am limited to the number of people who can watch me do what I do best. I enjoy being on stage and seeing how people appreciate my music,” she added.
In terms of performances since the launch, she expressed gratitude for the many private gigs she has had thus far, saying they are special and tailored to a specific audience.
“I’m not open to performing at just any event; it has to align with my energy and genre of music. So, it’s more a matter of hosting my own shows where I can be artistically appreciated.”
NaJah also expresses her creative juices through photography, poetry, visual art and dance.
“However, music is my heartbeat. It comes naturally to me, and brings me the greatest joy to create and share my music to inspire others. Hopefully, one day, I will also begin to share my poetry, paintings and photographs. But for now, music is leading my way.”
She, however, bemoaned the fact that busking is frowned upon by local authorities, saying it takes away opportunities for many up-and-coming musicians to be heard and seen by many people.
“There are so many talented young people in the country. But because they have no exposure, there is no way they will make it on their own; their music won’t listen to itself!” she exclaimed.
To all little girls who look up to her with the same admiration she had for Sheehama and others, NaJah said: “You are worthy of your dreams, believe in your gifts, your ideas and your power. With positive thoughts and attitude, nothing can stop your success”.
For now, she does not have any concerts lined up, but be the first to know where and when she will perform by following her on Facebook: @NaJah / @Nangula NaJah
YouTube & Instagram: NaJahAfrika