Naja Shiri
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Naja Shiri

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press



Tacoma’s own shines bright on the national stage

Her voice has an amazing clarity. It’s strong, dynamic, and yet so smooth. Hearing her sing would make you think she had been training professionally from the moment she started speaking. However, this somewhat shy songstress has only been sharing her voice with the world since she was twenty years old. Where has she been hiding? “Well, I was kinda shy, believe it or not, as far as like getting up in front of people and actually singing,” says Shiri.
She started singing in church, and soon, other vocalists were encouraging her to get up and sing with them. Once she started getting more comfortable, she began to take solos. With that, she blew everyone out of the water with her extraordinary voice. A Tacoma native, Naja Shiri made noise on the airwaves nationwide when her single “Dat Bomb” exploded on the scene last year. More than 50 radio stations picked up the song across the nation.
The instant hit was written by Naja herself. It received an overwhelming number of requests on radio stations across the Southeast. With callers blowing up the phone lines requesting the single, the demand for Naja’s appearance at station events turned into a mini tour of sorts. After performing in Louisiana, Georgia, and North Carolina, the song continued to gain popularity. All the positive reception the song received led to an invite to VH1’s Save the Music Jam Fest where she had a chance to showcase her talent to various record labels on a national level, as well as a few from the Hollywood area where the Jam Fest took place. “That was real good. I got some good feedback. The only thing is trying to get this album done. Cause major labels, even if they like you, like what they see, like what they hear, they think you’re great, they still want a finished product.” Currently Naja is working on putting together a full length CD for the next chance she gets to showcase for the major labels.
Since then, she has appeared on the compilation album “State Of Emergency” with her fellow label mates out of On The Block Records, and has continued to write. She composes all her own music. When writing she likes to connect with the listeners and let them feel what she’s saying. “When I sing the music, I’m basically trying to reach out to other people. I’m trying to get them to feel what I’m saying. It may not be a situation that they’ve been in before, but it may be something that they’ll face later on.” She keeps this in mind when she writes her songs, and she prefers performing them live to connect with the listeners. When she’s not performing at concerts and events, she keeps her performance skills tight by showing up to open-mic night on Mondays at Contour in Seattle. “I definitely like performing. It’s a totally different feeling to have all those people out there and all their eyes on you. It’s a scary feeling at first but once you get into it, it’s just like, wow I can do this!” Some of her songs also feature Naja the rapper. “I like to switch things up…Not to say that I’m not gonna use both my talents rapping and singing… but in my opinion my music is more soulful.”
The name, Naja Shiri, translates from its African-Hebrew roots to “stoic, strong song of my soul” - A fitting name for a young lady with such a strong, soulful voice. Not only does her strength show in her vocals but also in her personal life. When asked what the hardest part of her musical journey has been thus far, “Just balancing everyday life, I mean I still have to live. I still have to put food on the table for me and my daughter who I’m raising by myself. But I’ll never stop doing music”
At the present time Naja is enrolled in community college, and has three classes left until she earns her degree. She works at the school library to help get by. With all that talent and now wrapping up her education, Naja plans to move into other aspects of the industry when the time comes. “I’m still learning how the business works. The business side of it is complicated. I wish it were just as easy as writing. Even though I’m not handling the business portion of it (her career), I’m trying to learn it. I definitely want to excel, maybe have my own record label.” With a performance scheduled in North Carolina for the end of the month, and with the determination she has already shown, there’s no doubt she’ll succeed in that goal.
- Melanie M. Kellermann


1. How long have you been singing?

Honestly, I have been singing ever since I could speak. Whenever BET or VH1 was on I was glued to the television set. I also began writing short stories and poetry in about the first or second grade. Sometimes I would take my poetry and make up a melody and before I knew it, I had three verses, a breakdown, and a hook.

2. Who are some of the people that inspire you in the music business?

There are several artists that have been highly influential such as the legendary Anita Baker, The Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye, and Aretha Franklin. But, overall, it is the people who are constantly supporting me with my dream; the ones who truly believe in me and who give me the constructive criticism I need to never become complacent but always seek to better myself, not only as a person, but as an artist as well.

3. What makes you different than other artists today?

I’ve often been told by fans that my versatile style places me in a completely new genre. I’m sincere in everything that I say and do in my music and it shows. Its all derived from real-life experiences and emotions I used to internalize and would only express through my poetry and eventually, through my music.

4. I hear you do hip hop on your music also. Who do you admire in hip hop. Because from your picture, it looks like you would only be doing R&B.

The truth is, I fell in love with hip-hop well before I fell in love with R&B. In the early 80’s when I was growing up hip-hop was one of the most popular outlets for youth like myself. For someone like me, who has always been filled with creative energy, hip-hop was like a godsend. My favorite rapper right now is Nas. I like the fact that he is socially and politically conscious and does not always have to rap about negativity to get respect. But, it wasn’t until I joined the church choir that I discovered that singing gave me the ability to speak to a wider range of people in ways hip-hop couldn’t always do.

5. Tell us some of Naja's favorite passions in life when she's not doing music?

When I’m not doing music I am busy raising my 5 year old daughter. Being a single mother does not allow a lot of free time but, nevertheless, I enjoy spending time with my little one. We do everything together. We like to shop, go to the movies, to the water park, and to the zoo. The only time I really spend away from her is when I have to go out of town for a performance.

6. How was it being on tour with the Young Bloodz and doing your tour in the south?

Opening up for the Young Bloodz in Pasco was a big turning point in my career. Once you receive your first paid gig with a major group, no matter what the amount is, it’s a very empowering experience. I had a lot of fun down south. I have a lot of family who live in the New Orleans area and I got the chance to go to the Essence Festival while I was down there. I went to the House of Blues on Bourbon Street and met Biz Markee, who was performing there that night. The crowd was huge, the people showed me a lot of love, and made me feel not only like a star but like I was family.


7. What keeps you motivated to keep pursuing your dreams?

More than the money, more than the fame, for me it’s really just about being able to do what comes natural to me. Secondly, it’s witnessing how my fans are extremely receptive to me, yelling my name while I’m on stage, wanting to take pictures with me and hang with me after the show. Little things like that let me know that I am speaking to them and getting through to them.

I remember riding around town when I did I show in Atlanta and hearing them play my song on the radio every 15 minutes and then here in my home town, everybody calling and emailing me saying they heard my song on KUBE 93, which is the hottest station out here in Seattle for R&B and Hip-Hop. Its things like that which remove the doubt and help me keep the faith that big things are going to happen for me.


8. How is it working with Generation Productions?

Generation Productions is the best thing that ever happen to my career. There are so many artists out there with true talent that are lacking the right support system to take them to the next level. I used to be one of those artists and I know how frustrating it can be, especially if you don’t quite know all the ins and outs of the music industry. Since I signed with Michael R. Crump and Travis B. Williams of Generation Productions, I have learned more than I ever thought I would about the music business. I also know if I ever have a question or concern I can count on them to come up with a solution. We make a great team because we are all business-minded individuals with a common goal; to create quality music and entertainment that can reach out and touch every generation.

9. Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

As far as future aspirations that go beyond the music, I plan to attend a four year - Shonuff Times


Discography

"Dat Bomb" Single Released March 2003
Received National Airplay on over 50 stations.

"Too Many Rainy Days" Sinlge Released March 2003
On the "State of Emergency" Compliation CD

"Your Love is Knockin'" Single Released September 2004 on the "Caution Productions" Compliation CD

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

She has been hailed as R&B and Hip Hop's newest sensation and is being compared to other R&B legends such as Mary J. Blidge, Anita Baker, and Brandi, just to name a few. Yet, her music sets her apart in a way that could create a whole new genre: sultry, soulful, and sincere. There is also a flip side to her that usually catches her audience off guard. She is also known to throw in a little hip-hop verse or spoken word somewhere within her songs.

Naja: "I like to take the audience by surprise, that's part of what it means to be an entertainer. They come to see a show and I give them exactly what they want. Although singing will always be my first passion, I'm willing to use the music in any way possible to get my point across."

Born Amanda Nicole Allison, January 12th 1981, right outside of Seattle, WA, this young lady has always possessed a deep love for poetry, music, and all other literary arts.

Naja: "I always knew what I was going to do when I grew up. There was never a question. I used to be in my room for hours at a time, with a toy boom box and a microphone and record myself all night long. I still have the tapes from when I was 6 or 7 years old. I barley had any friends because I never came outside to play. I would sit in my room, read books, and just let my thoughts marinate. Next thing you know I was writing my own book or composing a poem and eventually I would turn my poetry into music."

Naja confesses that she has a multitude of musical influences. But those most important to her were the ones she grew up listening to, the legendary artists, some of which are still around today: The Isley Brothers, Diana Ross, Luther Vandross, Anita Baker, Whitney Houston, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Smokey Robinson, Lionel Ritchie, Michael Jackson, and many others. As for more recent artists, she says she admires Brian McKnight, Alicia Keys, Carl Thomas, Sarah McLaughlin, Van Hunt, and Floetry.

Naja: "My father was very religious and growing up in that environment allowed me to fall in love with real music. What I mean by real music is the kind of music that has feeling, the kind that has structure and a powerful purpose. Because when I was growing up in the late 80's early 90's most of the hip-hop had strayed away from its original purpose which was to empower people, to give them an outlet and a voice."

Naja possesses many talents and many passions but it all began with writing. In grade school, the moment she learned to write and put together sentences she immediately began writing short stories. Even though Naja's gifts were recognizable early on she did not become fully aware of her talents until she began singing in church when she was almost 21 years old.

Naja: "I never stopped writing. My gift never left me; I just didn't know what God wanted me to do with it yet, so it was just lying dormant. I still wrote poetry, I wrote songs, but I never thought to share them with anyone else, they were mine they were sacred to me."

Naja: "When I started to sing in church, I remember the looks on the people's faces. When I first got up in front of that church and sang. I sang from the depth of my soul, like there might not be a tomorrow and they were completely blown away by it. I loved that feeling; it made me feel powerful and inspired."

Naja has performed numerous times all throughout her home town in Tacoma, WA as well as a few open-mic performances in Downtown Seattle. She recently opened for the rap group Young Bloodz in the Tri-Cities and also had her own mini-tour down south in the summer of 2003. She did shows and radio interviews in Atlanta, GA, Macon GA, Lafayette LA, New Orleans LA, and North Carolina. Her hit single "Dat Bomb" was requested and played on ever 50 radio stations worldwide. She also was invited to perform in front of major record labels last year in Hollywood, CA at the VH1 Save the Music Jam.

When Naja is not hard at work in the music studio or composing music, she keeps her creative and entertaining talents strong by hosting talent shows on campus at her community college and co-hosting comedy shows two nights a week in her hometown of Tacoma.

She also helps organize fund raisers, talent shows, guest speaker appearances, book discussions, social and political debates on campus and she is also a young single mother with a 5 year old daughter.

In the near future, Naja's plans are of an infinite nature. She just completed her last quarter of community college June 2005 and walked away with an Associate's Degree in Arts & Science. From there, she will transfer to Florida State University to nurture her passions for music, literary arts, photography, and film production. Being in Florida will aslo give her the opportunity to finish her debut album set to drop at the end of this summer 2005.

Naja: "I plan to use the media in the same way mainstream uses the media to transmit messages and influence culture. If that means I have to write