“Nneka” Lucia Egbuna
Singer, Songwriter, Actress
DATE of BIRTH
December 24th, 1981
Hamburg University, Germany
PLACE OF BIRTH
Warri, Delta State
On August 2nd, 1997, Nigeria lost its foremost musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who used music as a tool of expression against all forms of political or government oppression. With the birth of a new century, a new wave of music pervaded the ambience of the Nigerian music industry. Music lovers had an immense crave and demand for hip hop music, and Nneka was one of the few artistes whose lyrical content, at this time, addressed the socio-cultural and political realities of the masses. Her music bothers on love, loss, hope and a sort of activist agitation for change.
Nneka, a hyphenated citizen of both Nigerian and German roots, was born as Nneka Lucia Egbuna on the December 24th, 1981 in Warri, Delta State to a Nigerian father and German mother. At the age of 16, Nneka left Nigeria for Germany to study anthropology at Hamburg University. As a student in Germany, Nneka found time to refine her craft as a singer-songwriter and will often play at various gigs in order to pay her way through college.
In 2003, Nneka took a crucial step when she started collaborating with DJ Farhot, a hip hop beat maker and producer in Hamburg, Germany. Her first public introduction came in 2004 when she performed as an opening act for dancehall reggae star, Sean Paul at Hamburg. It was a breakout performance and the crowd loved her. Her debut EP, The Uncomfortable Truth was recorded with the music label Yo Mama’s Recording Company. After the successful release of her debut EP, Nneka went on her first-ever tour with Patrice Bart-Williams in April 2005, performing to audiences in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
In the autumn of 2005, Nneka released her debut album titled Victim of Truth. The album was released in Germany, Japan, Nigeria, Netherlands, France and England and received widespread critical acclaim both by the media and music lovers. About the Victim of Truth, Jon O’Brien of the AllMusic Review said it “is an ambitious genre-straddling debut that combines sociopolitical lyrics with a mixture of soulful ballads, Afro-beat, hip-hop, and reggae” and Teo Kermeliotis of CNN said the album is “a much-lauded debut that fused soulful beats, tasty hip-hop-and reflective ballads with politically-charged lyrics and black consciousness.” Her momentous album release will lead to chart success, worldwide tours and collaborations with accomplished artists such as Damien Marley, Lenny Kravitz, Gnarles Barkley, Femi Kuti, and Nas.
Three years after the release of her first album, Nneka released her second album titled, No Longer at Ease. The title of the album came from a Chinua Achebe novel. While Achebe’s novel focused on Nigeria as a country, the album takes a discerning and personal assessment at the harsh realities of her homeland in the Niger Delta region. “Heartbeat”, the lead single of the album broke into the German Top 50, making it her first song to have ever achieved that feat, and in September 2009, the same song was #20 on the UK Singles Chart. Just as she did after the release of her first album, Nneka went on tours in France, Italy and Portugal following the release of No Longer at Ease. By November 2009, Nneka will go on her first US tour and performed in New York City, Vienna (Washington DC), Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. During her US tour, she also made her first appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman and also released a selection of songs from her first two albums as Concrete Jungle in the US in 2010.
Following the release of Concrete Jungle in 2010, Nneka has released two additional albums: Soul is Heavy (2012) which she recorded in Nigeria and My Fairy Tales (2015) which was recorded and produced in France, Denmark and Nigeria. The idea and concept behind My Fairy Tales was born while Nneka was studying French and living in Paris. According to Nnekaworld.com, My Fairy Tales “is a concept album, exploring the lives of Africans in the diaspora and the struggles they face focusing on the importance of being responsible towards children as well as the significance of culture, educations and identity values.”
|2005: Victim of Truth|
2008: No Longer at Ease
2010: Concrete Jungle
2012: Soul is Heavy
2015: My Fairy Tales
|2005: The Uncomfortable Truth|
2010: Heartbeat EP (featuring Nas)
|2005: “The Uncomfortable Truth”|
2006: “God of Mercy”
2012: “Shining Star”
2012: “Soul is Heavy”
2012: “My Home”
Nneka won the reggae category of the Museke Online Africa Music Award 2010 with the song, “Africans”. She has won the Nigerian Entertainment Awards (NEA) for the Best Indigenous Artist in Nigeria several times, has been recognized with a Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Award in 2009 as the Best African Act and also recorded a tribute song called Viva Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. She has performed on various media platforms including False Idols, MTV Iggy and BET 106 and Park and in 2009, she was recognized as one of the ’50 Emerging Artists’ by Beyond Race Magazine. In 2012, Nneka’s ardent sense of social mindfulness drove her to co-found a charity called The Rope Foundation with Sierra Leonean MC Ahmed Nyeie. According to Nnekaworld.com, the charity “serves as a platform for young men and women to express themselves through art.”
Nneka’s brilliance as a contemporary soul singer who has something to say truly goes beyond the confines of a stage. Her brilliance radiates beyond the stage and continues to touch the lives of the “unheard and unseen” not just in the Niger Delta of Nigeria but also in other neglected regions in the world. As an artist who sings in both Igbo and English, Nneka recognizes the reality of the socio-cultural interactions between different societies and cultures and finds an equilibrium of balance between these differences. In other words, Nneka is a trailblazer who promotes her own indigenous language and her heritage through her music in a world where English is the dominant language of expression.
- “Nneka (singer)” – Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Modified December 1, 2016. Web. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nneka_(singer)
- Williams, Precious. “Nneka”. Nnekaworld. http://www.nnekaworld.com/