Namarah is a singer/songwriter hailing from Philadelphia.” Her music is a hodgepodge of soul, RnB, gospel, and more. Noting the hard to define qualities of her music, Namarah has called her style “Manna”.
Namarah’s latest single, the haunting “Deia” is a beautiful call for peace in one’s soul. Namarah has also founded the Deia Tribe, a collective of Christian artists whose goal is to “…shift the perspective on God, (and) ourselves…”.
Today we speak with Namarah about what being a Christian artist means to her, the conception of the new single, and what her songwriting process looks like.
When did music become a central part of your life, did you grow up in a musical household?
Music has been a way of experiencing and expressing my entire life. Honestly, at first, I thought everyone made music as a kid. My parents were always singing, playing music, or engaged with the arts in some way.
I think around such an atmosphere, I learned that music was more than just a form of entertainment – it was a tool for storytelling, worship, therapy, and inspiration. Music teaches lessons, can give warnings, and articulate emotions and ideas that words alone cannot do.
As I grew up, singing and writing songs became my means to process the world around and within me.
How long have you been singing for?
I guess the easy answer is as soon as I could form sentences, haha.
In an industry where genres are becoming increasingly obsolete where do you find yourself fitting into the modern music landscape?
It’s a wonderful time to be an independent artist. Right now, we are in a space where artists who choose music as their medium have been screaming for liberation. Like painters, I feel as though sound is a means of expression and should not be dictated by a supply-demand structure when it comes to artistry.
As an artist, I see my work showing up in a variety of spaces – the thread is that my music is meant to inspire conversation within yourself and the community around you. That conversation could look like a dance, a prayer, a protest, or a visual work, but at the end of the day, I am happy to engage with land in the way it embraces me for my authenticity.
Christian artists from across the musical spectrum have been able to make a splash in the mainstream scene over the last couple of years, Lecrae’s BET cypher comes to mind. What place do you think Christian artists should be in in relation to the mainstream?
Is it better to tone down the “God stuff” to reach more people with a positive message, or lean into the Christian message with the hopes that those who do hear it are more deeply affected?
I think it’s wrong to shy away from any action that minimizes an aspect of who you are and your story. My faith is intertwined into the fabric of my life, view, morals and spirit. To downplay that? Nah, I can’t because it then hides the process of my own becoming. My songs came from dreams, prayers, and journal entries.
Everything I have ever created has had some connection to God and what I have learned on the journey. I think what we get caught in when it comes to being a Christian and an artist, is the conversation that God cannot be intertwined with the everyday ongoings of the human experience.
The bible is a compilation of stories – experiencing God, expressing God’s goodness, and how we as humans engage with that why should I give up that tradition. Sure, it’s not a worship song… or a “gospel” style or whatever… but do you ever ask a “spiritual” artist to downplay their background in their music?
I’m not asking for permission to be anything other than who I am. I think the better question is, when will the world see there are plenty of artists who do exactly what I am doing already. To be mainstream is to make undeniably DOPE music… or it should be. So I’ll be focusing my energy on that alone.
You’ve said that your music is Manna, a reference to the substance that kept the Israelites alive during their time in the wilderness. What do you mean by that?
I love to practice my agency as an artist. And if you need more than one genre to describe my artistry, I guess I feel like it’s not really a good fit – only a hodgepodge of what is already known.
If you search the meaning, you will find a few answers but ultimately it is something you receive from God to sustain you. And I love it because it is a HUGE umbrella to play under. What sustains me today may not be what I need tomorrow.
My music shifts like that so do my creativity, so anything I create is from that space where it is something I can use today to process and experience life.
Your latest single “Deia” has this haunting and searching quality to it, it’s desperate and beautiful. Was it born of some specific instance in which you found yourself looking for answers?
Deia is such a special song… It took me a year to write but only two hours to complete. I was living in upstate NY at the time and I had begun learning to play kalimba, the instrument you hear in the song, in that particular moment … I was in a really dark place. I was angry at myself and I felt like I was abandoned by God. It was 2 am in December when I began to fool around with the melody you hear; just as a hum, almost like a lullaby.
Something told me that I needed to record it and so I did. And I honestly forgot about it. Life went on and I had begun my own journey of healing from relational trauma, I moved back to new jersey and lived with my family for some time.
Fast forward to the exact time and year, I woke up from a dream/memory – I was back in my upstate apartment playing my kalimba, and instead of humming the tune, in my dream, I was singing full on words. I immediately wrote every line to the page.
That’s what you hear in the song. Nothing was changed. It was a real God moment for me. I felt that everything I was doing, even the parts that I cried and sometimes still mourn today, was being witnessed, in the presence of God – that I was never alone and could always find that presence.
The perspective of the narrator of this song is unique, are we to understand that the narrator is God? Or is it one’s soul/conscience? Or something else entirely?
It’s definitely not me singing as the voice, I believe that it’s God’s love letter to me and everyone that the Lord is there and we just need to be made aware of God’s presence within and around us.
The Deia Tribe is a collective of Christian artists that you brought together, how did you come up with the idea for Deia Tribe?
Deia is an anagram for the word idea. All we want to do is to shift the perspective we have on God, ourselves, and the world. I just knew I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.
Is there a specific goal that you aim to achieve with the Deia Tribe?
Deia Tribe’s mission is to inspire, empower and support artists who wish to do the same – which is to express God and God’s heart through our humanity in the many forms we are.
Your songwriting is steeped in the spiritual and often biblical, what does your songwriting process look like?
OOF. Well depending on the day, it could be a notepad entry on my phone, a post-it on my desk, or a lesson I’m learning in time. It’s very fluid and organic, I try not to make it a math problem. But there are days when I feel that there is an art that needs to be made. and I show up asking God what he wants to say and then I ask myself if I have anything to share.
What role does your music play in your own spiritual journey?
Healing. I am always looking back to my past in a somewhat obsessive way… overthinking the tough conversations, worrying if what I’ve done before is the best that will ever be… I do a lot of work reminding myself of the journey of becoming is all about the journey itself and living in the present.
When I listen to my music, it reminds me to be grateful for the lessons and I am also aware of the added meanings to what a song says to me in my current timeline. How I sing and perform a song then vs now will be different because I have more to share and it somehow confirms what has already been sung. My music still heals me and I love getting stronger, better, and more at peace with who I am and how God created me.
Artists often talk about how they feel they are writing affirmations to a younger version of themselves or speaking encouragement to some meek piece of their spirit, do you find that true for yourself as an artist?
Absolutely. It’s a form of prophecy, to speak out what you want to see, so it has the chance to grow into what you imagine and hopes for it to be. That’s all I ever hope to do as an artist and as a human.