Making a Living, Making a Life

By: Naomi Wachira | Work | Career | Personal Stories

My mom once told me that I started singing before I could even talk, so it was definitely deeply ingrained in me. I definitely knew, even at a young age, that music was powerful and I wanted to do something with it. My dad was a pastor and when I was five. I became a member of their singing group where we traveled to different churches in Kenya. 

You can hear influences of soul, folk, some reggae and Afro percussion in my music. I think I also look at music as a way to connect us regardless of where we've lived or what we've done with our lives. It's a pretty vulnerable thing to do, and I feel that there's no other way to perform that to be real about your story —your triumphs, your failures, your stupid choices etc. I'm a deeply introspective person and so I spend most of my time observing life around me, and also reflecting on how I'm living my life. When I write my songs it is about honoring what I'm processing, learning, scratching my head about or just wanting to remind myself of what I want out of life.

Damien Jurado, a Seattle indie-rock legend, was at an open mic I once played. I remember seeing him as I walked in the door and was completely intimidated. A year later, his agent reached out with the a request from Damien that I open for him, which completely floored me. When I was getting ready to record my album, I hit a bump on the road and I reached out to him for advice. About a day later he sent me a text and offered to produce my album if I wanted. There was no way I could say no that! Now, I make a living singing about what matters to me. And, I am grateful to have recently been named Seattle' Top Folk Singer.

I've always wanted to focus on hope in my music, even when I was a little girl. I think the world is such a complicated place and the truth is, you'll find enough people who focus on all that is wrong with the world. The way I approach life is that even when there are moments filled with darkness, I can always hold on to hope that there is light somewhere, even when I might not see it. It is also my way of following my father's legacy, who was such an incredible man and sought to make positive strides in whatever he did. 

I want to do something meaningful with my life. I don't want to waste my time doing things I don't really care about. When I get on stage I feel like I have arrived home. I literally feel one with myself, like this is where I am supposed to be. I just made the commitment to making a living playing music and am now doing that. It was a big leap but I had to do it. It is paying off.