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Grammy–nominated Ethiopian-American singer/songwriter Wayna has received accolades from popular music’s highest echelons: Stevie Wonder calls her “incredible.” Essence magazine deemed her “one to watch,” and Billboard declared her a “stand-out on the indie front.” The singer’s unique blend African and reggae-inspired soul with classic and alternative rock—aptly named “world soul”—earned her two chart-topping singles (from her sophomore LP Higher Ground) and a coveted Grammy nomination for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.
Wayna’s newest album, The Expats, represents a departure from her previous work. Named as an homage to its Toronto-based backing band and internationally born production team—contributors hail from Ethiopia, Japan, Israel, Germany, Jamaica, and India—the album draws from diverse influences to create an alternative environment where Sade and The Police meet Lauryn Hill and Radiohead. Wayna’s lyrics continue to push the envelope, addressing thought-provoking subject matter including racial and economic inequality, love, individuality, and life choices.
Wordsmith Akua Naru travels the world recording her experiences and fusing musical genres, solidifying herself as a model of what women can be in the hip-hop world. Her debut album . . . The Journey Aflame(2011) reached number one on the US college radio charts.
With classic boom bap hip-hop sounds, a profound mastery of lyricism, socially conscious rhymes, and astonishing musicianship, Akua has garnered critical attention and accumulated rave reviews. Her associations with the 90s hip-hop era and acts including Lauryn Hill and The Roots have earned her appreciation within and beyond hip-hop circles. Accompanied by her band DIGFLO, a six-piece ensemble including drums, keys, saxophone, flute, bass, guitar, and turntables, Akua has a reputation for captivating audiences, hyping crowds, inspiring many, and forcing some to encounter and dispel the myths they’ve been taught about women and hip-hop. Her music and performances are a testament to the legacy of soul music and the powerful trailblazing female artistic tradition on which it builds.
Special admission with CMJ Music Marathon badges, subject to capacity.
Presented in collaboration with The Bloom Effect