Seattle-based artist Naomi Wachira is a songwriter’s songwriter. With poignant lyrics, a dynamic voice, and a classic delivery, Wachira’s music is what you put on to learn, listen, and blossom.
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Born and raised in Kenya, Wachira draws inspiration from her African roots and her experiences as a mother, woman, and immigrant. The artist also has a new EP out this year, Sometimes I Worry, and American Songwriter is premiering the title track today (May 8).
Below, we caught up with Wachira to ask about the new work and what she loves most about the craft and art form she’s dedicated her life to.
American Songwriter: Recently, you were living abroad with your daughter and mother. What’s your past year or two been like?
Naomi Wachira: Like everyone else, I’m trying to find my ground again after the pandemic. My focus right now is trying to get back to doing what I love, whether that’s writing music, releasing songs, or performing at shows. While the landscape is constantly shifting, my desire remains the same.
AS: How did this song, “Sometimes I Worry,” manifest? What does the song speak to?
NW: The song speaks to the worries and insecurities I sometimes have as a parent wondering whether I’m doing everything I can to make sure that my daughter is well-prepared for the road ahead of her. Indirectly it’s also about the kind of foundation I’m building for her to ensure that she’s well-grounded and can face whatever challenges come her way.
AS: How does it fit into the new album of the same name?
NW: The new EP contains songs I’ve written about being a mother and it just expresses one of the many emotions one goes through while raising a child.
AS: How does it feel to be releasing new work? Cathartic, a relief, scary?
NW: It feels good to finally have some new music to share with people and have another chance to do what I love.
AS: You have a rich voice, and you write lovely songs that participate in a style of American folk music but also in music from other cultures that you’re close to. How do you think about your “sound,” this mixture of styles that swirl together to make a Naomi Wachira song?
NW: I feel like this has become less of a focus for me at this stage in my life. What I’m more interested in is writing music that is authentic and real. What I want to know is that I’m writing music that matters, that acts as a witness to people’s lives giving them a sense of not being alone.
AS: What do you love most about music?
NW: The fact that it’s the one language that easily translates to different cultures, religions and people groups. It’s the one gift we humans have that allows us to connect with others regardless of where we come from or who we are.
Photo by Stacy Pietsch / Courtesy Naomi Wachira