On Friday 13th of May, Sounds of Brazil (SOBs) in New York City was greeted with a long line of fans, all waiting to see Nneka in action. It was hard to ignore the diversity of the crowd; Nneka’s fan base in NYC surpassed any gender or racial constraints. It is also worth mentioning that the natural-haired ladies were out representing that night, and as a kinky-haired girl myself, I was pleased. Doors opened at about 11:30pm, concert attendees settled in and were greeted by a performance by a stellar upcoming artiste.
Nneka, the German-Nigerian soul singing-cum-freestyle rapping sensation came out at around midnight, dressed ever so simply in an army green jacket, jeans and a pair of tennis shoes.
Along with her, were two of her band members. One of whom immediately took his spot in front of the piano to her right, while the other on her left sat with his guitar. Nneka took center stage, microphone in front of her and guitar in hand. The talented singer entertained the crowd with songs from her upcoming album, as well as tunes that were already familiar to the audience. Picking up the pace of things, Nneka started her performance of “Vagabond in power” by informing the crowd that VIP no longer stood for “Very important person” and now meant “Vagabond in Power”.
She managed to get an otherwise relaxed crowd involved by entreating us to respond to her chants of “Vagabond in power” with “vagabond in power o!” The crowd eagerly obliged and SOB came alive, more than before.
Forever armed with socially and politically conscious lyrics, “Vagabond in power” is a song that attempts to highlight the suffering and heartbreak brought on the citizens of African countries by their political leaders. Nneka managed to slip in the message that corruption is prevalent in all societies, even in the western world and contrary to popular belief, not just in Africa.
Stepping into a more familiar territory, Nneka performed “heartbeat”. This could have easily been tagged the crowd’s favorite, judging from the way everyone sang along. It was a stellar performance as Nneka not only sang beautifully, but also took on the role of a drummer with a make-shift drum that she would use from here on out.
She then went on to perform “Suffri” and at this point, the crowd didn’t need any permission to join in her chants of “Ooh-oh-oh-oh-oh-Ooh”. Nneka concluded the concert with this song whose refrain goes: “Suffri, suffri with my soul”, which when translated out of pidgin English, spoken in parts of West Africa, means “be gentle with my soul”, a fitting tranquil message.
Nneka delivered, so much so that fans stood put even after she had exited the stage, hoping for an encore. When the show was undoubtedly over, I got a chance to speak to some fans about their overall impression and see if there were any disappointments.
One fan’s response was “I absolutely loved the whole performance…Best live performance attended till date.”
A big thank you and congratulations to the organizers of this concert, Afrisonore, who saw the importance of bridging the gap, and introducing New York City to a ground breaking African artiste eho is using her talent to make a difference.
NYC eagerly awaits Nneka’s return.