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Nneka Using Music to Bridge Gap Between U.S. and Africa

Nigerian singer Nneka‘s joy and enthusiasm for her music is infectious; it’s impossible to watch her perform and feel unmoved.

The daughter of an Igbo Nigerian father who was forced into early retirement due to his government’s corruption, and a German mother whose country she came to study in at the age of 19, Nneka has a unique perspective on the world, and a powerful, vibrant energy she emits on onstage.

Recently on tour with Nas and Damian Marley, The BoomBox was able to catch Nneka’s soundcheck at New York’s Highline Ballroom recently, where she was headlining an intimate show on her solo trek.

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“Nas and Damian are really amazing artists,” Nneka said of her tourmates. “I had my preconceptions before I went on tour, [but] when I met them it made me feel more joy, because I felt like those preconceptions I had were correct, positive. I’ve learned a lot seeing these artists who I’ve been into for many, many years. To see that they still maintain their … being human, despite their fame and popularity, that we still can have a conversation eye to eye — it’s a good thing.”

Though still a relative newcomer to the United States, despite having already released three critically acclaimed albums, Nneka recently scored an appearance on ‘The Late Show with David Letterman,’ appeared on CNN and recorded a song for EA Sports’ Fifa 2010 video game. Still, in her eyes, she hasn’t made it til she’s received recognition at home.”Right now, we’re getting there,” she admits. “We’ve been getting a lot of good publicity here in the states. Winning awards in Europe and within Africa has also given me a better platform to approach the minds and spirits of my people. Unfortunately the Africans, to a certain extent, we always believe that what comes from outside Africa is immaculate. It’s almost like you have to go on pilgrimage first before you’re acknowledged, but you know, it’s ok. I forgive, if I’m allowed to say that. Now that I’ve gained a little bit of publicity I have the opportunity to speak about certain issues within Africa and connect the West to Africa, and I think it is very important that the people outside get to know … here.”

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