There’s no doubt that there’s a better future in store for Naomi Wachira, especially after her great breakout year in 2013. Named the Best Folk Singer in Seattle by alt publication Seattle Weekly and featured on their cover, Naomi became the toast of the town, which in turn led to a friendship with the much-loved indie songwriter Damien Jurado who came onboard to produce her self titled debut album. Born and raised in Kenya, Naomi is the daughter of a Kijabe pastor, and she joined the traveling family band at five years old, spreading the good word through gospel song. This explains the beautiful harmonies on her album, for as she says “In my family everyone sang and everyone knew their part. Harmony was second nature for us.” When you listen to Naomi’s songs, you’ll hear the lifelong influence of two powerful, groundbreaking female songwriters: Miriam Makeba and Tracy Chapman. Makeba became one of the biggest stars on the continent through her socially aware songwriting, something she shared closely with American songwriter Tracy Chapman. In her debut album, it is clear that she is inspired both by the music she discovered in America and the music she grew up with in Kenya, not a Western conception of how African music should sound.
The songs on Naomi’s debut album sound so alive. They’re plucked from her own life, powered by her Northwest musical community, and imbued with her own sense of hopefulness. The Seattle Times had a recent photo of Naomi at Seattle’s naturalization ceremony, receiving her American citizenship with tears streaming down her face. It’s a remarkable photo, and a reminder of the distances we often travel to find our dreams