Interview with singer-songwriter, Namvula 

I’m excited to share with you this very heartfelt interview with singer-songwriter, Namvula

I’ve known Namvula for over 10 years now and it’s been very inspiring to witness how she has embarked on a whole new career, with so much passion and dedication. In this interview she shares what inspired this courageous journey. It definitely encourages me to be less fearful in living my life more fully by pursuing more of the things that my heart and soul desire.

Namvula signs off her emails with a Rumi quote which always makes me pause and truly absorb it – it sort of sums up the ethos of this blog: “let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

Namvula 2

What’s your passion?

Living a life filled with creativity and well-being. And living it passionately! There are so many things that I love spending my time and energy on: my music, other people’s music, photography, love, food (eating more than cooking though!), expanding my mind… It is to infuse my life with all of these elements and feel the breadth and depth of aliveness. 

What inspired you to become a musician?

Ultimately, a desire to live my life fully. To not ever reach a stage, or an age, where I looked back and regretted not doing something my heart was calling me to do. I’ve played instruments since I was a child, written songs since I was a young teenager, but it took me years of circumnavigating around music before I could see that it was such an essential, elemental part of who I was that I needed to have the courage to make it my profession. 

Also my love of telling stories, of examining, feeling, rewriting and reinterpreting life in the medium of song. And the fact that music just feels so damn good!

What has been your greatest obstacle/challenge?

Getting over my own lack of self-confidence. Definitely my greatest obstacle – in most things – has been myself. Learning to overcome that voice that tells me “I can’t possibly do this…I can’t possibly be good enough”. Learning to trust in myself and my soul’s passions, to believe in the fruits of hard work, and to surrender enough to take those leaps of faith needed so often when it comes to creative ventures. 

Namvula Steve Sweet

How have you dealt with/overcome it?

Sometimes just doing something – without too much thought – has been the best way for me! Following the line of light, without too many questions around why I am being pulled in a certain direction. Not letting my head get in the way. And understanding – really understanding – that there are support systems all around, people who root for me, who believe in me enough to invest their time and creative energy in helping me grow and push through to the next level. 

What has your greatest achievement been?

Now that’s a tough one. I’m not sure I can single out one greatest achievement. Rather, I think my journey has been one filled with many points I can look back on and be proud of, both personally and professionally. So the list may end up being long and boring (not to me, but to you all!). But one of them: loving myself.

Where will you be in 10 years?

Physically, I have no idea…somewhere where there is more sun than there are grey skies, that’s for sure. Somewhere that inspires me through its art, its pushing of creative boundaries. Somewhere where community matters, and where people have time for people. Professionally, in a space where I am still excited by my art, still wanting to share it with the world, and where I have grown my career to a point where I have enough logistical and financial support to be able to give my creativity the space and freedom it craves.

Namvula New Album

How does Africa inspire you?

It’s stories. It’s beautiful, chaotic, pulsating, vibrant, paradoxical, life-loving, maddening self. Which is life, really. 

I’ve found it to be a bed of creative inspiration for me – so musically rich, so many (too many) sonic textures to delve into, an unending mine of rhythmic and melodic inspiration. I write very visually, so have drawn a lot from experiences I’ve had, stories I’ve witnessed, lives I’ve read about, countrysides that I have passed through or lived in, that have stuck on my skin and stayed with me. 

Anything else you’d like to share?

For years I’ve talked about, ruminated on, began digging into, and swilled the idea around my brain about writing a children’s book based on traditional Zambian folk tales, that incorporates songs and beautiful, vibrant illustrations. My generation (myself included) have not invested enough time and effort into preserving, celebrating and sharing the wealth of our cultural heritage with the world in a meaningful way – although this is shifting fast, which is wonderful. So this project is on my “right at the top of my wish / to-do list” list. Perhaps having my first child will finally be the push that I need? 

Anything we should look out for in the coming weeks/months/year?

I’m in the throes of completing my second album. In this body of work, I’ve been exploring some of the nuance of what it is to be female; over time and place, I have met or read about girls and women whose stories I found to be particularly inspiring and moving, and I’ve used these as the bedrock for this project. Look out for it’s release later this year! We’re recording the album live over 4 days next month, with the full six-piece band and some special guests.   

In the immediate present, being an independent artist with no label backing, I’m running a crowdfunding campaign to support the costs of making this record – all those nuts and bolts that have to be in place in order to get music out into the world – so do head over to the page and check it out

You can also find Namvula over on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Photos by (from top): Ottavia Castellini, Ottavia Castellini, Steve Sweet, Susan Wanjelani

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