Carolyne Naomi’s music is a tapestry of culture and music, which encompasses love and light through guitar, voice and soul.
The Nigerian-born guitarist realized her love for music at an early age. At 9 years old, she penned her first original composition. As a teenager, the guitar became her instrument of choice. She fine-tuned her writing skills by writing jingles for Beat 99.9 FM. Over the years, she has cultivated her own sound, which embraces many genres. Naomi describes her style as a “culmination of different music I grew up listing to over the years: R&B and soul from the ’80s era to present, pop, jazz, gospel, and Afro-beats.” Naomi currently calls Minneapolis home where she recorded and released her forthcoming project Guitar, Voice & Soul. Rolling out caught up with Naomi to talk about her latest project and the Minneapolis music scene.
Talk about your latest project.
My latest project is my forthcoming EP — Guitar, Voice & Soul. I just released my very first single off of the EP. The single is called “Love & Light,” which is available on YouTube. The reception to the song has been amazing with over 1K views and several positive comments in such a short time, and I’m so appreciative.
What do you want listeners to glean from the project?
Guitar, Voice & Soul is a body of work that encapsulates the beauty of music as an experience, a place, a tool, a voice,
an instrument, a channel or vehicle of discourse, and “Love & Light,” which talks about our limitations as humans and how the divine’s love and light guide our everyday affairs, is one single out of the rest to be released as time goes by.
Was there a backstory?
Yes, I drew inspiration from my personal experience. More often than not, there have been times that I’ve been weighed down by the cares of life, but when I come to a full understanding of who and whose I am, I realize that I cannot be afraid anymore because all is well and in control.
How would you describe today’s sound?
Today’s sound is a meeting point of various genres blended to create something new. Using the term of a school of thought, it is regarded as
“World Music”. This is music that combines cultures and births something new and interesting. For example, a blend of Afro music and House style has created what is known as “Afro-House”, popular in South Africa and gradually making waves in other parts of the world.
Do you think the diverse sound has the capability to translate nationwide?
Yes, just like the example I gave with Afro-house, there’s also a more popular wave which is known as Afro-pop or Afro-beats, and it is a blend of pop styles, R&B, and African rhythm and language. Quite a number of American R&B artists have caught up with this new sound, ie., Kelly Rowland, Omarion, Ne-Yo, Beyonce, Drake, Akon, Rick Ross, Childish Gambino, etc. These artists have either collaborated with African artists or have applied Afro influences in their music (rhythm and dance styles).
What inspires you?
Well, I have been through times of family dysfunction, financial struggles, self- esteem and self-worth struggles, etc. However, the things that have inspired me, kept me grounded and focused on my goals are my faith and spiritual [and] moral foundation. In those times that I went through a lot of difficulty, I found solace in music; singing with the choir since I was 12 years old. Music became my therapy and that’s what my forthcoming EP, Guitar Voice & Soul, is about. Positive and even negative events inspire me to be better and do better, and so I want that to be reflected in my music because I know it will make a great impact to someone out there who listens and shares similar experiences.
What does the Minneapolis sound mean to you?
The Minneapolis sound is a reflection of the rich and diverse cultures inherent in it. The city has musicians of diverse backgrounds and genres and that puts it on the map as one of the major music cities to visit and experience in the Midwest.
Would you say the music scene in Minneapolis is tight?
Yes it is.
In addition to that, I would also like to encourage musicians in Minneapolis to think beyond the walls of being known just locally. They
should aim for international recognition. There [are] more people out there beyond the borders of Minnesota who need to hear the beautiful music that I hear. This is definitely one of my goals.
Five best venues to perform in Minneapolis?
The ones with large capacity would be:
1. Xcel Energy Center
2. Target Center
3. Skyway Theatre
And the smaller locations, depending on the genre of music:
4. Dakota Jazz Club
5. Bedlam Lowertown (closed now)
Five best venues to see a live performance?
In addition to the list I have above, Bunkers is one good place to see live music, especially reggae/Caribbean music
Be sure to follow Carolyne Naomi on social media – @carolyne_naomi