Featured Artist Interview: Nola Ade
Nola Ade is a young, vibrant free spirit with love, lightheartedness and soul in her bones. Her Nigerian blood and natural adaptation of aboriginal customs set her far apart from most contemporary R&B singers of our time, while her sunny disposition lights the path to a new approach to the genre.
CC: Can you tell us about your Nigerian roots and how that has affected your musical style?
Nola: Well I’m first generation Nigerian-American. Growing up I listened to a lot of Nigerian, Yoruba gospel. I listen to a lot of Fela Kuti. Right now I’m listening to a lot of modern Afrobeat. Fela is traditional Afrobeat. He’s kind of awesome, but honestly I feel like all types of music have influenced me and who I am. Because I’m Nigerian I think that helps with the upbeat nature of my music. I know that they (Nigerians) do a lot with drums and just happy, upbeat, gospel stuff. I think that’s really what’s helped shape the type of music that I do; my music is very upbeat.
CC: Your Cover of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” (written by Willie Nelson) really seems to be catching a lot of attention. What draws you to the country, honky-tonk nature of this genre?
Nola: First of all I listen to lyrics above all. So, regardless of where [the music] comes from, what type of music [the lyrics] are put to, if the lyrics identify with who I am then I’ll like it. In general I literally identify with every type of music; even on my EP...there’s one song that people call “Honky tonk”, but it still has remnants of R&B and jazz because of my vocal influence.
CC: But what actually draws you to Country specifically?
Nola: If I like the song, I like the song. It could be the lyrics, it could be the song, it could be any part of it. If it’s catchy, you can catch me singing it.
CC: Your upcoming EP is called The Love Dance What is The Love Dance?
Nola: When I decided to call this The Love Dance, it was actually...well I wrote every song individually, but I found that my songs had a trend. There was a “Love” trend within each and every song. Some of the songs were happy, some of the songs were a bit melancholy, but not in a bad way. They have a sweet side to them; It’s not necessarily terrible way down in the dumps, angry type of music. But the common thread I noticed was that they all had to do with love; not just the ups and downs of love, the happy parts of love, the sad parts of love, everything. So I decided to call it The Love Dance because [it makes me] think of love, the intricacies of love, how it can be a dance, and how it can have you up one day and down the next. So that’s what this EP is about. It’s literally a story, especially with the order I want to put it in. It’s a love story.
CC: Your approach to R&B is a fresh, innovative one. It somewhat seems that the R&B/Soul genre has been under this invisible blanket of darkness, disguised as depth, and I personally didn't realize this until you brought attention to it; I commend you for that! Why do you feel that this kind of darkness is so prominent in the culture of R&B? From where do you feel this darkness stems?
Nola: I don’t know. There’s so much hate in the world and people are sad, but I feel like I've come from a very happy background (well, not necessarily happy, but I've been inspired). It’s just a different background; it was always like an “everything’s gonna be okay” type of thing. The vision that I have for me and my family and the entire world; that’s just what I wanted to display in my music. I didn't want to necessarily do what everyone else was doing. I wanted to stay true to who I am as a person, and I’m generally a happy person.
CC: Yes, I can definitely see that about you! I was considering asking you what inspired you and what gave you the courage to want to change the approach to the genre, but it’s seems you’re just like, “No more sadness!”
Nola: Well sadness is a part of life, and a part of being human, I understand that. Even on my EP you’ll be able to see that yeah, I get sad too; however you can have a half full glass or a glass that’s half empty and things will get better regardless. That’s just what I want to put into my music.
CC: Agreed! Are there any upcoming happenings you’d like to share with us?
Nola: I'm performing on February 22nd at The Chicago Auto Show in The Lexus Listening Lounge.