All it takes for music to emerge is a seed of possibility to be planted. Melodies materialize from cacophony this way, a momentary idea is blessed by serendipity and eventually music is born. Endless songs have been birthed this way; a random thought led to a wider observation only for the lyricist to put pen to pad and compose a ballad that in time links binds souls into one poetic harmony. This is the connective power of music; where politics, history and religion serves to divide humanity, melodies stitch us together and bond us as one people. Countless wars have been fought over ideologies; I can’t think of one war that has been fought over music.
I write this as a precursor to the music of Nneka and Midnite that I am about to introduce you to the same way friends introduced me to their music on social media today. This morning, I asked which musicians I should write about next. The only precondition I stipulated is that I wanted to write about someone who was not pop star famous but who was nonetheless uber talented. Two friends initially commented that I should write about Midnite as Hugo and Amaurys both raved about a reggae band whose music I heretofore haven’t heard. Hugo though added one more suggestion as he mentioned Nneka’s music on his last feedback.
For some reason, Nneka’s name drew my attention so I decided to check out her videos on YouTube first. Boom! Immediately her voice grabbed my attention. Hugo did not lead me astray, he led me right to a treasure that wrapped me in a melodic netela for most of this afternoon. The first song I heard was My Love, My Love. Of course that title drew my attention for my last name means My Love in my native language Amharic. Her voice had a touch of Macy Gray’s rasp and hint of Nelly Furtado’s catchy diapason. Yet her style was all together unique; it takes a special talent to keep my ears from the first blush. Sight unseen, I became an instant fan—I’ve been listening to Nneka’s music the whole day.
My intention was to do a full write up about Nneka but the initial conversation on Facebook evolved as more people joined in. As I sat down to compose this article, a suggestion by Meske made me pause and reconsider the music of Midnite I skipped over earlier in the day as the sound of Nneka made me block out all other alternatives. Meske made a passionate case for Midnite’s music which made me take a break from listening to Nneka’s songs and I instead took a gander over to Midnite’s YouTube channel. Grateful. That is the only way I can express my gratitude to Meske for encouraging me to listen to Midnite.
Where Nneka’s songs are more upbeat even as she combines her music with a depth of human emotion, Midnite’s music was more traditional reggae where they touch upon social issues that have confounded us for far too long. Reggae has always been a music of rebellion and a melody of defiance. Rebellion and defiance is the best way I can describe the music of Midnite. Those who turn to music to find redemption and to seek healing would do well to listen to Midnite. Their music expresses he range of emotion from struggle to find identity in “New Life” to speaking up against historical injustice in their song “Babylon Dem Copy”.
There is a nexus in the music of Nneka and Midnite. Both reach deep in their souls to express songs not for the sake of commercial appeal but from a place of creative expression. I’ve spent the day listening to the music of both and all I can hear is authentic souls using music to express their aches and their hopes to the universe. This is what music is supposed to be about I humbly submit, songs that are sung and melodies that are strummed are best when they speak to us and give voice to our struggle to understand the world. A journey is profound when travel long distances while we listen to music that heals our hearts and edifies our souls as we travel the road called life.
There is another aspect of music that I love. Music is like a web that connects souls together as common notes are found amid strangers and friends alike. Nneka and Midnite united five souls together on this day as Hugo, Amaurys, Yohannes Meske and I bonded with music serving as the common denominator. There is no need to wait for the revolution for the revolution has always been with us. Music is the revolution that will lead us away from the hatred that is licking this world; we will still the fears that chop at us all when we choose to be the music in us instead of opting for animus that is pervasive. Turn off politics and listen more to musicians and one day we will go from Midnite to Nneka. Poetic, Nneka means mother supreme in Igbo—music is what delivers us from night to a mother’s supreme love. #Midnite2Nneka
“Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.” ~ Lao Tzu
If you appreciate the message behind this write up and you too LOVE music and the way it connects souls, share this article on social media using #Midnite2Nneka and make sure you follow @Nnekaworld on Twitter.
Check out the music of Nneka and Midnite below. First up is the song that Nneka sang that initially captivated me and captured my attention.
Check out the music of Midnite that also captivated my mind as they sing about the injustices that gnaw at this world. Love will overcome all…one day
Check out the Ghion Cast below where I discuss what music means to me and how music can heal us all. Peace and stay forever blessed.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.