Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nuru Magram: The Most Fashion Forward African Artiste!

       Tanzania boasts of clear blue waters and white sands as well as more wildlife than any country in the world. But perhaps, one thing this East African nation is equally proud of is its’ cultural ambassador in the person of Nuru Magram.  This 25 year old singer and fashionista who currently calls Stockholm, Sweden her home is evoking invaluable inspiration and motivation to Tanzanian youth. From a young age, Ms. Nuru was always infatuated with all aspects of entertainment and the arts. Her love for fashion started as an interest that developed into a passion. This Bongo Soul singer whose two hits ‘Msela’ and ‘Walimwengu’ made her a household name in the last few years is working on a forthcoming album in her native Swahili language. She also has been involved in a number of charitable activities in aid of development projects in her birth country such as the Mama Lokii Trust of Arusha. Here is a recent interview conducted with Ms. Nuru during  which she spoke  about her musical influences, fashion style, music promotion in Africa and general outlook on life.

Tell us a little about yourself. What is your background? Education? Where you grew up?
 I rarely talk about my family. That notwithstanding, I will let your readers know that I come from a family with boys and I’m the only girl. I was raised by my mother who is my role model, and off course my aunt who also had a very big influence on me. I was born in Tanzania but left at a young age but I never forgot my roots and I still speak Swahili to this day. I have studied music and arts, hotel and tourism, teaching and psychology.

When did you first start singing?
I started singing at a very young age. I began professionally at the age of 16 and got signed to Stockholm Records and I am still doing it till today because I love my craft.
Who are your musical influences?
Ella Fitzgerald she is a jazz singer who taught me how to use and see my voice as an instrument. Michael Jackson for his love of music and respect for being an entertainer and musician who never wanted to disappoint his audience. I also admire Whitney Houston, Brandy, R. Kelly, Miriam Makeba, Lucky Dube, Bob Marley, Remmy Ongala, Professor Jay and myself offcoz.

Do you write songs yourself? And if so, how often and what inspires your lyrics?
My English songs and because I was so inexperienced and young I didn’t write so much mostly melody and stuff but for my Swahili album. I was ready to write so I wrote the material myself and is base on things that I experienced in my life so they are like a mini story of my life.

How would you describe your own music?
My own music is a mix of cocktails meaning that I’ve been inspired of all kinds of music so I really can’t label my music not just yet..

Are you signed to any record label?  Have you been approached by one?
No. I am not at the moment. I think it’s the best way for me because I’m a free agent and can do whatever I want. I used to be signed at a label so I know the pros and the cons of being in that situation.

In 2009, under the pseudonym Danuma, you released a number of singles including ‘Summertime’ and ‘Look At Your Man’ produced by Cool James and Janne Ericsson. What has been the public’s response thus far and do you plan on recording more dance tracks in the future?
Ooh, you took me way back! Well I’m not going to be doing anything under that name simply because all I did under that name Stockholm Records which is now EMI is something that I did back then. I now work under the name NURU and I will do more music known as NURU instead of DANUMA. The response was great both in Sweden and Abroad so am grateful. I got to tour with Cool James and Black Teacher and learnt a lot during this process.

Aside your first love music, many of us who have been following your career know you dabble in the fashion world too? Tell us a little bit about your style? Are modeling full-time?
Hahahaah!! Well the modeling thing is not something I’ve done too much of. The interesting thing is that people want me in it but I don’t want to because I’m too short. Besides being a model is hard work!  I love fashion because it’s art and I get that in a much deeper level and my style is very laid back where the word comfortable is the key. I always tell women know your body and dress after it and you will never go wrong and I think Halle Berry is a great example of that.

Photo Credit: Enrique Jaguar

Do you have a fashion icon? Who is your favorite designer?
It’s very hard to just to come up with one name because I have many in mind. I love fashion so I’m gonna have to skip this one. However, I have few people that I think were born to dress well and include Halle Berry, Victoria Beckham, Jackie Onassis, Coco Chanel, Mbilia Belle and my own mother.

What is your biggest fashion obsession?
BAGS, ACCESSORIES AND SHOES.., A girl can never have enough shoes hahahhahaahh.

Coming back to your music, what has been some of the challenges you have faced getting publicity or airplay for your music outside Tanzania?
To tell you the truth the music industry in the West and Africa is very different. Luckily I have experienced both. When it comes to my English material I really didn’t have any problem because the record company does all that and you as an artist do the promos and interviews whether it’s TV or radio so pretty much flow as it suppose to be. With my Swahili project, I have  the Internet as the best tool to promote my songs and music in general, and it has worked thank God!! I have released three singles in Tanzania and I’m grateful that they’ve done really well.

Would you contribute your success as an artist to luck, inspiration, or hard work?
HARD WORK PERIOD! People don’t understand how hard you have to work in this industry and if you use the easy way out it always come back to haunt you. A mix of good people, writers, musicians, producers, support from radio, TV and your own determination and you will make it.

What do you think it is about music that inspires hope and provides a sense of comfort during difficult times?
Music is a universal language that speaks to us all. Music gives comfort, brings happiness and even cured people. To me music is medicine to heartache, disease and even a lost spirit. Music has its own force which is hard to explain and I think that music is one of the greatest gifts that God ever gave to any human being.

Is there anything you would like to tell your listeners, that you want to really stick in their minds, about you and your music?
 I want people to know that I am music lover and that they should experience NURU live because that’s how you get the best of me and my music.

What is next? Are you working on any live performances, CD’s or writing new material …and how can readers hear more of your music?
I’m just finishing up my album my Swahili album which is going to be called WALIMWENGU, and I can’t wait for it to come out. I recently released a new track called ‘Wewe’ with a music video to follow shortly. Don’t forget to catch up with me on FACEBOOK and join me on my fan page and off course on my blog

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