Everyday Icon: The Soulful Musician

We sat down with singer/songwriter Naia Kete to hear about her musical upbringing, career trajectory and the importance of being a confident artist.
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We sat down with singer/songwriter Naia Kete to hear about her musical upbringing, career trajectory and the importance of being a confident artist.
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Sometimes we come cross a musician whose sound—to put it pimply—hits a nerve. Such is the case with singer/songwriter Naia Kete. We originally heard about her work from a mutual friend and quickly realized we recognized her soulful sound from NBC’s The Voice.

Now a member of the band, SayReal, Naia and her band mates are on a mission to spread messages of love, peace and purpose. We caught up with Naia to learn more about her music-filled upbringing, how she’s transitioned from a solo artist to a member of a band and the little things she does to stay grounded while she’s on the road.

We know that you were essentially born into a very musically inclined family. Can you tell us a bit about your upbringing and how being around music has shaped not only your sound, but also how you move through the business side of being a musician?

Growing up where music was all around me was incredibly fulfilling. I was lucky to not only have the support of my family and their belief in my being an artist, but was also able to collaborate with them from a creative standpoint and from a business standpoint.

I think being around music so much when I was young gave me a real sense of confidence in being an artist and musician. Not everybody is that lucky to know who they are at such a young age and I was. When it comes to the business side of things it's really allowed me to seek out professionals in the industry who believe in it being about more than just CD sales and singles. It's about honoring each individual member of the band and the message they want to convey through the songs they play. This has allowed me to cultivate lasting business relationships with people who are in it long-term, which is so important as an independent artist.

You’ve also been writing music for years and have worked with some pretty big names in the music industry. Where do you find the inspiration for the songs you write?

Everywhere. It depends on the day, the mood, what I'm doing, what moves me, what inspires me and what makes me feel any type of emotion—whether I am feeling happy, sad, in love or defiant. There is a song for every feeling and every experience. I'm inspired by the world around me, the people in my life and the stories I hear and read about.

Originally a solo artist, you recently came together with a group of fellow musicians to form your band SayReal. What has that journey been like for you?

It's been a crazy ride. I've been working with my brother in this industry since we were both kids. I also worked with my boyfriend of seven years on and off a lot on my solo project. It's been an interesting experience coming together—looking at one another and our friend Chris Lightfoot (also now in the group) and realizing that hey, we’re a band!

It was humbling to realize that we were stronger together than we were apart and that my name was not going to be one we would be performing under anymore. It's also a real blessing to have the support of these guys—in the music, always, and now on the business end of things. It’s been game changing.

In terms of working with others, what’s your ultimate dream collaboration?

Oh man, that's a tough one. There are so many incredible artists who inspire me and have influenced my music and my songwriting. I do have to say though I have always dreamed of working with Damien Marley and Steve Marley. That whole family is obviously a really great fit with what I do, but I have always been blown away by those two brothers in particular—not just their songwriting and flow but their production style as well.

Here at Clementine Daily we hold the simple things pretty close to our hearts. What are a few of the little, everyday things that keep you grounded—whether you’re on the road or in the studio in LA?

I have a notebook that I use to draw and doodle. It's a nice way to stay creative without having to think so hard—like I do when I write music. Movement and exercise is important to me as well. I love doing yoga and deep breathing as a way to keep calm and centered. I also love a good chat with a girlfriend. There's nothing like a little girl talk when you're on the road with a bunch of boys to make you feel like yourself again!

Speaking of being on the road: what are five items you keep with you to make you feel at home while traveling?

My journal, my jewelry, a good book (even if I don't have time to read it I still bring one), my headscarves and some portable recording equipment so that I can always lay down an idea if I need to.

Lastly, we’re curious what you and SayReal have planned for the future. Any exciting projects you can share with us?

Without giving away too much, I can tell you that we are writing and recording some brand new music that will be released in January and will be booking some shows and going on the road once again to promote the new stuff! Really excited to share it with you all.

Thanks, Naia!

p.s. If you’d like to learn more about Naia’s music career, you can listen to her recent interview on the Creating Your Own Path podcast.