Naima Mclean
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Naima Mclean

Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa | Established. Jan 01, 2014

Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Established on Jan, 2014
Solo R&B Afropop


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"Eye on Naima Mclean"

Who is on our radar? South African singer, actress and poet Naima Mclean. Her star is on the rise. The talented artist will be making her international acting debut alongside Paul Walker in the film Vehicle 19 and her single, Hero (featuring AKA), from her upcoming album is steadily climbing up the local music charts.

ELLE magazine features writer Refilwe Boikanyo went behind the scenes of the Hero video shoot to find out more about the young starlet.

naima mclean hero

Q: Tell us about your musical background

I was born into a musical family with my grandfather (Jackie Mclean) and father (Rene Mclean) being internationally renowned jazz musicians. Music has been the backdrop of my life, and from a young age my dad had me perform my music and poetry with him. Although I was always performing – acting, singing, dancing and writing from childhood through to my tertiary education – I only pursued music full-time five years ago.

Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?

They differ. Sometimes I’ll come up with a basic base line on a guitar, write to that and give it to a producer to develop. Sometimes I’ll be given instrumentals that inspire a melody line, and sometimes the whole track will build in my mind and I’ll go into the studio and work it with an engineer.

Q: Who inspires you musically?

Gosh, so many! My father does, he’s truly a creative genius and encouraged my thinking out the box. Outside of him, I love the likes of Sara Vaughan, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Bobby McFerrin, Jill Scott, Adele, Alicia Keys, Lira, Thandiswa Mazwai, Zaki Ibrahim, Tumi, Zubz, RJ Benjamin and Frank Ocean. My list could go on.

Q: How have the past 12 months been for you?

They have been extremely enlightening, both from a creative and business perspective. I’m really defining my sound and music through recording the album I’m about to release, so I’m really excited about that. And from a business perspective, in the past year I signed to a major label and consequently decided to leave them and release my album independently. This has been such an empowering realisation to come to and an eye-opening experience. As artists I think too often we underestimate our capacity. It’s really been a year of coming into my own.

Q: Which modern-day artists do you look up to?

Refer to the list above, and you can include Rihanna and Beyoncé. Their work ethic is truly something to admire.

Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?

For sure. Hugh Masekela, D’banj, DJ Black Coffee, Mi Casa, Khuli Chana, Simphiwe Dana, Nandi Ngoma, GoodLuck, GoldFish, The Muffins, Nneka. Enough?

Q: Whose songs are you listening to at the moment?

Mine J, Kimbra, Nneka, Janelle Monáe and Kendrick Lamar.

Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?

I think they’re equally important, but if I had to choose I would go with lyrics. I’m a poet so words mean the world to me.

Q: What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

Releasing this album independently, and starring opposite Paul Walker in the film Vehicle 19.

Q: What are you hoping to achieve in the next 12 months?

I hope to build my brand and carve a niche for myself in the African music industry as someone who is doing things differently and raising the bar.

For her single, Hero, Mclean teamed up with SAMA-award-winning rapper AKA. ‘If you listen to the lyrics, you’ll realise that it’s a call to change. It’s about inspiring the youth to find light in a dark place. It’s all about getting people to mobilise themselves and change the things that they are unhappy about. That’s why the video is set in post-apocalyptic Joburg, a world full of danger, darkness and injustice, and people come together to fight for peace,’ says Mclean.

Watch the video below and tell us what you think: - Elle Magazine

"Get to Know: South African Poet/Singer Naima Mclean"

Sounds like: A futuristic, avant-garde Ella Fitzgerald.

The low down: Poetess. Actress. Singer. Writer. That is Naima Mclean in a nutshell. An urban soul artiste (her words[1]), Naima deftly navigates the seas of art and business to build her brand. Her grandfather and father are renowned jazz artists. Ms. Mclean made her acting debut in Vehicle 19 with Paul Walker and she is part of the African Leadership Network. She is under Black Major which also has Zaki Ibrahim, Spoek Mathambo and Lindiwe Suttle on its roster.

The verdict: Naima has been lacing words together into intricate patterns, writhing her way into our hearts. She has mastered the dynamics of gesticulation, tone, to produce powerful live (and recorded) performances that draw you in, calling out to you to pay attention. Admittedly, poetry is her first love and this shows in her music.

The take-away: Check out her single HERO with rapper AKA on Youtube.

Make another stop by her website: - Afripop Magazine


Still working on that hot first release.



Naima McLean

Writer, poet, vocalist, actress; Naima Mclean is the complete package. Born in New York City and raised in cities across Africa, Naima is performer at heart, as her degree in theatre and performing arts suggests. She has performed and sung throughout Europe and South Africa, and acted in numerous productions by internationally renowned South African directors.

Naima fuses soul, spoken word, hip hop, pop and a variety of other genres to create a distinct style she calls Urban Soul. Her debut album, Things I Wish, was musically directed by RJ Benjamin, and saw its live debut at the 2011 Cape Town Jazz Festival. A personal highlight for Naima was being asked to open for internationally renowned RnB singer Joe Thomas on his tour to South Africa later that year.

Naimas performances as a poet include a tour facilitated by the British Council Verbalized 2010 and various corporate events. Previously she had performed at Urban Voices International 2009 and The African Leadership Conference 2010 in Ethiopia.

As a result of her star power, Naima was selected by Levis Strauss SA to represent one of the four faces of their Believe Curve ID campaign aligned with Levis brand values of courage, integrity, authenticity and empathy. As part of four dynamic divas that were the face of the advertising campaign, Naima worked closely with the Levis team on their longstanding HIV/AIDS initiative, Levis Red for Life.

Naimas TV roles include cameo features in one of South Africas most beloved TV dramas, Generations, presenting for South African Coca Cola game shows, and as a feature character in internationally renowned UK TV series Wild At Heart. Her first major feature film, Vehicle 19, was released internationally in July 2013 and starred Naima in the leading female role alongside late Hollywood celebrity Paul Walker.