Born and brought up in Seattle, Washington, Naomi Wamboe a singer and songwriter has decided to come to Kenya to re-brand and grow her talent in music
Faith Gachobe @wangechigachobe
Music may be a source of entertainment to many, but to some people, it is what they eat, drink and sleep as is with 28-year-old Naomi Wamboe. Naomi is a renowned personality in the Kenya music industry in Seattle, Washington. Her journey in music started when she was about five years old.
Born and raised in Seattle, she loved going to church as a child because she would get to sing in the choir. Though Naomi had been pursuing music, never had she done it professionally until one summer break when she was 15.
“I always came to Kenya for my breaks, but never had I been to a recording studio here. My uncle happened to know Clemo of Calif records and so, he took me to his studio.
Clemo loved my voice and that’s how I ended up doing my first song Tunakatika with [email protected],” Naomi recounts Looking back, Naomi laughs at her innocence then, but appreciates that it’s the Tunakatika song that gave her the morale to pursue music as a career, especially after being voted rising female artist in the Chaguo La Teeniez award in 2006.
When she left high school at Charles Wright Academy, Washington, she moved to Miami for her campus studies in 2008. She later joined University of Miami where she pursued business management with a minor in music.
Even after graduating in 2014, Naomi stayed in Miami for two years working with different producers and pursuing music. With her background in business, she tried to work in accounting for a short while, but did not like it.
“My dad had offered me a job in one of the elderly homes he runs in Seattle, where I worked as an accountant. The money was not bad, but the passion was lacking. I quit shortly after fully concentrating on my music career,” she says.
By the time Naomi was leaving school, she was already an African sensation among other diasporans.
She competed on BET’s 106th and Park Wild Out Wednesday, taking first place the first time, and second place the next with Kanja the Afrikan King.
She was also instrumental in the creation of song Madaraka, which is a collaborative project of various artists in Seattle that supports One Vibe’s work.
Her love for equality, her positive energy, and natural leadership abilities inspired her to become an ambassador for One Vibe Africa, a non-profit organisation that inspires youth toward a deeper appreciation of culture and traditions, empowering them to develop their creative potential through music and art.
One Vibe’s activities in the US include Madaraka festival, Kijiji Nights, One Vie House concerts, black collaborations and African Languages and cultures.
Because most of her music has been done in Kenya, she always had to move between countries, which would get frustrating at times. “I would come up with a song, hype it, perform it a couple of times then go back to the US.
This would mean that after a while, the songs might not be as hyped when I am away,” she says. For this reason, she had been mulling with the idea of moving to Kenya and she finally did. Since moving back to Kenya last year, Naomi is now not only known as the girl of Jaguar’s song Kipepeo, but she has made a name for herself.
She has had hit songs such as Niaje, which she did with Owuor Arunga; world renown Jazz trumpeter, popularly known for his work with Macklemore. The song was influenced by the sad events of attacks on Nairobi Westgate Mall by Al Shabaab terrorists.
Even with her career looking up, she has had to endure some harsh criticisms from people who don’t appreciate her work. Making money from music is not always easy, so patience is something Naomi has had to learn every day.
“The challenge is that here, people want me to do shows for free unlike in America where I would get paid even if I did just one song,” she reveals. According to Naomi, ever since she started doing a lot more of her creative work in Kenya, the diaspora in the US seems to give her a much better response, and she is even getting greater recognition.
However, the main reason she wanted to do her music in Kenya is because she’s always wanted to come back home and bridge the gap in music between Kenya and America. Naomi acknowledges it would not be easy, but she believes trying is the first step.