Milwaukee Talks: Naima Adedapo
It's been a busy year for Milwaukee native and "American Idol" alum Naima Adedapo.
Since becoming a finalist in the show's 10th season, Adedapo has signed with Peak Records/eOne Music and is finalizing her first solo album. She's also been performing and creating new music with her Milwaukee reggae group, R.A.S. Movement, which is set to perform Summerfest June 29. Add her roles as wife and mother, and it's a surprise she even has time to sleep.
Nevertheless, Adedapo graciously took some time from her hectic schedule and, jetlagged from her recent "Idolpalooza" show in Australia and assisted by occasional side commentary from her two little girls, answered a few questions for OnMilwaukee.com.
OnMilwaukee.com: I know you were just in Australia and you have a lot of other things in the works. What have you been up to for the past year?
Naima Adedapo: As you know already, I was signed by Peak Records by Andi Howard and I've been recording in L.A. I also did a track with Jamie Jones, who is a member of All-4-One. I have been literally just working on the album. We finally are going to be releasing the single, "Free Your Mind," on May 15. It kept being pushed back because we wanted to make sure it was the right time. I'm really excited about that.
I've been performing a lot with R.A.S. Movement, my reggae band here in Milwaukee. My husband and I have been working on music for an album for R.A.S. Movement as well. Like you said, I just recently came back from Australia with different members of the Top 24 from Season 10 of "American Idol." We went to go sing to the U.S. troops over there in Alice Springs, Australia, and in the meantime got to have a really great time. We got to go to the outback and see kangaroos, dingos ... it was really awesome.
I'm just really enjoying some of downtown with my family, taking the girls out to the park, the museum and whatnot and really trying to enjoy this time, because I know it's probably going to get really crazy again after the single is released. I'll have to do some radio touring, things of that nature.
OMC: Do you enjoy returning to more local performances?
NA: I really have enjoyed that. You know, the TV thing is cool, you have millions of people watching and all that, but what's great about the local performances and the smaller venues is the intimacy, and the fact that I can see who I'm singing to and I can talk to who I'm singing to. There's nothing like live performance. The energy comes across entirely differently than it would a TV screen. [The local performances] have been packed with people coming out to support.
The "Idol" time really has created big buzz for our reggae band as well, just having people come out based on the fact that I was on "Idol," and them falling in love with R.A.S. Movement by the end of the night. I've had a really, really awesome experience coming back to my roots, so to speak.
OMC: Tell me more about the album. What kind of sound can fans expect?
NA: It's going to be a lot of different sounds. I'm pretty diverse; I like to just call it "Naima Swag." There's some neo-soul in there, there's a little bit of R&B, reggae; there's even some hip-hop elements, as well as hints of jazz. What I hope is that it really just sounds like me, that it sounds like Naima. At this point I feel like I can't even put it into a specific genre, because there are going to be so many different elements.
I'm really happy with a lot of it and I've really been enjoying the recording process. I feel like I've been finding new things in my voice. I feel like real growth has come from being in the studio and experimenting with my vocal cords, and being able to work alongside and sort of exclusively with amazing people, professionals that really know how to bring specific sounds out of me. It's been really awesome recording with Juan Winans and Warryn Campbell. I feel like they understand me and who I am as an artist.
Overall, I'm looking to release feel-good music – something you can pop into your car stereo and roll down the street and enjoy, and give you a good vibe and kind of a happy feeling, a joyful feeling. I always used to see these documentaries of third world countries and slums in Jamaica or Africa, and these people who have nothing but they have this one small radio, and they have Bob Marley or something playing, and it just lightens their whole day and helps them get through it. That's the kind of music I want to release.
OMC: What has the recording experience been like? How does it feel to get something of your own put together?
NA: Man, It has been awesome. It definitely is entirely different from going into the studios when I was on "Idol." That was a really rushed process. We would have three to four hours to record a track that was going to be released on iTunes the next day, even if you didn't feel like it was your best performance. But what's been cool about my experience in the studio so far is that it has been perfecting things – trying to really work on projecting a good sound and making sure that you're using the right words when you're writing and that you're not making it too complicated, but that you still have a message inside of the music.
It really has been a great experience. Working alongside Juan Winans and Warryn Campbell, I feel I have gotten to know them as they have gotten to know me. They kind of understand what it is I want to sing, even when I can't sing it sometimes. They understand what kind of sound I have and they've been able to build around it, so it's been an amazing experience in that way.
Some of my other "Idol" friends have told me that their experience going into writing sessions has been kind of difficult because they feel like there's no consistency, that every time they go into a writing session they're with a different writer. It's almost like being on a first date. You have to sort of feel the person out, get to know them. I've had a valuable experience recording in L.A. with [Winans and Campbell], because we've had time to just relax in the studio, and have some conversations about who we are as people and what our beliefs are, and then out of that comes music. We've had an opportunity to kind of grow together. It's been an extremely big learning experience. Page 1 of 2 (view all on one page)
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