About

When Naima Adedapo walks into a room, you know it. There is a sweetness and a youthful energy, not to mention a unique beauty that makes up all the attraction that seems to follow the Chicago native.  She exudes the determination of a woman on a mission. This might explain the past couple of years of her roll-up-your-sleeves journey into the discovery of one’s own personal artistry that a little show called American Idol ignited in 2011 after she garnered national attention as one of the top 11 finalists on Season 10.

At an early age, Naima, named after a ballad composed by John Coltrane in 1959, knew that performing and expressing herself through music and dance was her calling.  Being the daughter of renowned Milwaukee area Jazz vocalist Adekola Adedapo, and the great-granddaughter of actress Gladys Williams who shared the stage with Sidney Portier, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis in the 1940s, there was no way for Naima not to be bitten by the entertainment bug. Growing up in Chicago, at age 10 Naima moved to Milwaukee with her mom and younger brother after their parents’ separation. She spent her childhood around the music scene in and out of Jazz clubs with her mom all the while being influenced at a young age by the music of the Temptations, Aretha Franklin, the Motown era, Michael Jackson and later India Arie.

Finishing high school in the top of her class and graduating with honors with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance she made it a point to excel in what ever she did. She has been involved in the Milwaukee Public Theater as a dancer, teacher and actress appearing in a number of theatrical performances including the lead in For Colored Girls, West Side Story and Crowns among others. Since the age of 13 she has taught dance to youth for a variety of community outreach centers and schools all over Milwaukee.  Before auditioning for American Idol Naima was a maintenance worker on the Summerfest grounds in Milwaukee dealing with the not-so-pleasant duties of emptying trash and cleaning toilets.  “I got a job there to be around the music and be in the midst of my passion. I watched all these artists on the big stages and wanted so badly to one day have that opportunity,” she said. I am proud now to say that I have played Summerfest a number of times since working as a grounds keeper there. During my time on stage I just simply look out at the crowd and realize that we all really do have the power to turn our lives around.”

After coming off Idol, performing a 47-city tour in the US, Philippines and Canada, appearing on a number of TV shows including Jay Leno, Regis & Kelly, Entertainment Tonight, Good Morning America and the Today Show and experiencing a whirlwind of many firsts in the entertainment industry with the new found exposure to contracts, recordings, TV production, red-carpets, media, public appearances and a level of instant recognition that only a show like Idol can bring, Naima went straight into a record deal. Things were moving fast with the record company to avoid losing the momentum of the Idol exposure and the first songs she had ever written were going on a CD.

It was during these songwriting/recording sessions that she realized there was a lot she didn’t know about herself as an artist and about the entertainment industry. There was an uneasiness she felt in the middle of this process that couldn’t be explained. It was during this time that she met Nashville music executive, Cindy Owen with Given Entertainment, at one of Given business partner Jim Kacmarcik’s Milwaukee charity events. The two exchanged numbers and became fast friends. “Cindy began asking me casual questions that often times I couldn’t really answer. I played her some of the music that was to go on my record and it was what she said then that opened my eyes the most, ‘Where is your voice? You are a singer’ and I couldn’t stop thinking about that.”

In need of guidance and a manager, Naima soon asked Cindy if she would assume the role. Seeing so much more in the talent and abilities than what Naima even realized, with the encouragement of her new manager to broaden her scope of music beyond the borders of reggae and urban, which since her teens was the extent of what she had been immersed in, Naima began the journey of the most artistically transforming time in her life. “I wanted Naima to forget about chasing a post American Idol window of time that was quickly closing and focus on developing into the artist she was meant to be. I didn’t care how long that would take. I knew it was in her and I knew she was going to blow herself and everyone else away when she started coming into her own.” Naima spent the next year out of the spotlight and completely concentrating on the music and vocal coaching. Juggling a career and family life, Naima frequently made the trek between Milwaukee and Nashville where she immersed herself in music genres and artists that she had yet to be exposed to while writing and honing her sound with some of the industry’s finest. “People have this huge misconception of Nashville. No, I am not doing a country record” she laughs. “Nashville has one of the most diverse, eclectic music scenes I have ever experienced. There is a sense of community here among all the creators of music and they really encourage and applaud one another’s successes.” This is one of the reasons she made Nashville a permanent home in the summer of 2015 for her and her two daughters, ages 6 and 8.

Wanting to make music with a message, Naima began pulling inspiration from some of her own life experiences in the hard lessons and struggles she’s been through as well as the empowerment in the realization of what she had within her to come out on the other side. “It all started coming together for me personally and artistically. It was enlightening. I felt like my soul was being fed for the first time and I was performing and writing songs that represented what I was about. It started flowing naturally. This new music is part of the fabric of who I am.” Naima said. The results of those revelations have spawned such tunes as the crowd-favorites, “Beautifully Made” that talks about loving who you are and how you were made, as well as, “Diary of a City Girl,” written with renowned singer/ songwriter Phil Vassar that echoes a young girl’s love of being raised in a big city.

Naima’s sound has a pop vibe with soul sensibilities mixed with a powerful, smoky, soulful vocal delivery that is uniquely her own. She herself has been surprised at the power and range in her voice that has developed over a short time as well as her abilities as a songwriter.  “There is so much depth to Naima as an artist and as a woman. She is hungry, she is a quick study and she is committed to giving it all to be the best that she can be.” Cindy added. “She is a model artist and she is blooming like a flower.”  Her live show is no different. Naima is an entertainer whose vibrant love of people and connecting with them from the stage shines through with the fun, energetic performance of a seasoned pro.

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