Rising songstress Nneka Ebunga will be receiving some much deserved international exposure when CNN showcases her talents and back story this Saturday and Sunday.
The daughter of a Igbo Nigerian father and German mother, Nneka’s musical odyssey began in the early 2000s when she left Nigeria at 19 for her mother’s homeland. In Germany, she slowly developed a strong following serving as an opening for then popular artists like Sean Paul. It lead to her 2005 debut Victim of Truth, which garnered rave reviews in the UK press.
But instead of basking in her new-found popularity, Nneka continued to use her voice to draw attention to economic and political injustices in her native Nigeria.
“The period of time that I spent in Germany educated me a lot about being Nigerian. Before, I never really was that conscious of my surrounding, of our politics. I knew that there was something going on, but I never really felt responsible,” she told CNN. “”If you listen to my music, I do have a lot to do, issues that are very delicate to the Nigerian ear, talking about our politics at present, or the corruption, or the oil exploitation in the Niger Delta.”
The special is scheduled to air on Saturday (July 17) at 11:30AM and 6:30PM GMT, and on Sunday (July18) at 5PM GMT. If CNN decides to air the special in the United States (which they definitely should), that those times would translate into 7:30AM, 2:30PM, and 1PM. If not, it will likely hit Youtube in the ensuing days.
I had the pleasure of seeing Nneka in concert twice this past year: once as a headliner in a small Atlanta venue called the Vinyl, and as an opening act for Nas and Damian Marley. What stood out to me in her own set is how seriously she took her music. One time she stopped the show to explain the importance of her actual message, feeling that amongst the revelry it was not driving home.
Below is some of the footage I shot from both shows for those seeking to get started on this promising young artist. Her most recent album, Concrete Jungle, was released earlier this year. She counts amongst her influences Bob Marley, Nina Simone, and Lauryn Hill. Her J Period mixtape can also be downloaded here for free.