We met her, face-to-face on February 9, 2010. The night before, I had gone to bed an hour earlier, to offset any symptoms of sleep deprivation that might result from a midweek night on the town. As a result, I awoke early the next day, with enough time to pick out two outfits - for work and after work.
It was extraordinary, how quickly that work day began and ended; perhaps because of the atypical ending I anticipated. Not that I live a humdrum life, it's just that during the week, I'm always working, at the office, on the commute, at home with our kitindamimba [last born] and his homework, on my writing, and on my reading list.
After a quick work-out at the gym, I showered and changed into the jeans and sweater my charming husband had remembered to bring. The evening began with a pleasant dinner at Lobby at Twelve. I chose the grilled skirt steak with creamy potato gratin, green beans and beef jus; he had sautéed Atlantic salmon with herb risotto, asparagus and sundried tomatoes. I enjoyed my dinner. He didn’t; maybe because I’d ordered a bottle of the house Cabernet to go with our meal. He should have had white wine with the salmon, but he hardly drinks alcohol.
We skipped dessert at the restaurant fully aware that we’d be indulging in the deliciously soulfully rich treat that is Nneka; a final course that was at best gratifying, at worst, tantalizing.
At Vinyl Atlanta the petite Nigerian-German singer, songwriter, stepped onto the stage, dressed in a sweatshirt with the words “Africa Is The Future” emblazoned on its front and back. She began each tune with a brief introduction, explaining that her thick accent may be difficult to understand. Her songs, from her U.S. debut album, Concrete Jungle, speak of the corruption and poverty that she has witnessed in Nigeria; they also celebrate love, spirituality, and human dignity in the face of injustice.
The selection included “Kangpe”, “Focus”, “God of Mercy”, “Suffri” “Heartbeat”, my favorites. She gave us all, two hundred or more in that intimate setting, enough inspiration to keep us going in her afro-beat, hip-hop, reggae, contemporary way of making African music.
Here's her late night U.S. TV debut:
After the show, we joined the long line of folks waiting to buy her CD. We popped it in the car on the ride home and enjoyed our very own encore performance; and a very happy ending, to a wonderful evening.