Hailing from New Haven, Connecticut, Akua Naru’s journey to global poet began in an early upbringing in the Pentecostal church. Her powerful poetic lyricism, talent for storytelling and ability to integrate historical narratives into her music with unmatched eloquence have drawn the attention of scholars and activists around the globe. Naru admits to writing “to fulfill the void she needs filled since access to female voice has been so limited in hip-hop”. Due to a legacy of slavery and silence in which being black and women has meant exploitation, marginalization, and damaging stereotyping lasting right up to today, Naru defiantly declares her intention to “provide a body of knowledge” by centralizing black women’s experiences in her work. Akua Naru’s latest release “The Miner’s Canary” has been met with overwhelmingly positive reviews. The album, recorded live over a two year period, boasts an amazing cast of talented and accomplished features which assist in freeing its musical landscape from the single genre of hip-hop to settle between soul, blues, and jazz. She has lectured with Bakari Kitwana, Dr. Tricia Rose, and Public Enemy Pioneer Chuck D. Her new album “The Blackest Joy” will focus on maternity and African heritage.
With classic boom-bap hip-hop sounds, socially conscious rhymes, jazz-soul elements, Naru has garnered attention and accumulated rave reviews. Being associated with artist movements such as the 90’s hip-hop era and acts such as Lauryn Hill & The Roots, Naru’s musical and poetic gifts have been appreciated among hip-hop circles and are amplified within live performance. Representing strongly when performing with The DIGFLO Band, a six-piece ensemble including drums, keys, saxophone/flute, bass, guitar, and turntables, Akua Naru and her band have a reputation for captivating audiences, hyping crowds, and inspiring many. Clearly, her music and performances are a testament to the legacy of soul music and the powerful trailblazing female artist tradition on which it builds.
Akua Naru is the 2018-2019 Nasir Jones Fellow at the Hutchins Center – Harvard University.