Naida Lynn croons her original composition “Wise Words” amid playful guitar strings. If she wanted to, she could probably sing the track in French, Creole, or even Spanish. Her tongue can spin words in five languages, after all. Her multilingual abilities mirror her multi-style abilities when it comes to music. One minute you can pick up India Irie influence in Naida Lynn’s voice, and the next minute you can sniff Whitney Houston in her notes, and in the next song you can detect a Patti Austin-deepness.
K. St. Fort: Tell us about yourself.
I am the happiest person I know! I love life, I love who I am, and I find joy in helping other people experience that reality too. Born and raised in South Florida, I am a first generation Haitian-American who speaks 5 languages. In the humblest sense, I have way too many talents and passions to choose just one. Because of that, much of my time is spent living fully, thinking deeply, and pursuing all of the beauties in life as they come! A few words that describe me best include: passionate, adventurous, sensitive, and thoughtful. I sing. I write. I teach. I fly—all of which are ways that I am able to spread the message of hope, purpose, and freedom that I know intimately. I am a Christian. In fact, I am utterly, emphatically, and incandescently in love with Jesus. He is the source of my joy and is the reason I have the drive to make a difference in this world.
I’ve come to a place in life where I finally believe that I am enough. For years I lived the lie that I had to act like someone else to be accepted. I put my best foot forward always in an attempt to hide my insecurities. But the day I decided to show up to my own life, accept every part of me, and live vulnerably–is the day I discovered the real me.
I am a hot mess, yet I am lovely. I am down to earth yet super-fashionable. I am often confident and often insecure. I am ever growing into a better person however, once a month, I am not the nicest person to be around! [Laughter] I am me. I am Naida. And whether people like it or not, I will live nothing less than unapologetically me!
K. St. Fort: Did you know that your name means “Water Nymph”?
Yes! I actually did! [grins] I discovered that some time ago, and thought it was so fitting to my personality! According to Greek Mythology, those water nymphs used to guard various bodies of water, served as mother figures to young ones, and would marry kings in their days. I like to think that I’m secretly royalty and will marry a king! [Laughter] Not to mention that I’ve always been fascinated with the depths of water and mentoring others like a matriarch.
K. St. Fort: Speaking of water…how do you keep your head above water in this business…in the sense of keeping yourself level-headed?
What a great question! Honestly, it’s reminding myself daily about who I am, what I stand for, and what is right for me to be doing at any given moment. The only time when I am overwhelmed and ‘drowning’ in this business is when I’m distracted. It’s so easy to compare yourself to other people and to begin to look down on yourself. I decided some time ago that I’d do my best to keep my focus while appreciating what others are doing. As amazing and ‘ahead of me’ as they may seem, that’s their journey! I have my own walk that will look different, smell different, and sound different. But as long as I’m true to me, I’ll be a’okay! [Smile]
Thinking like that keeps me grounded!
K. St. Fort: So, I read that you wrote a song about pumpkin soup, chile.
Yes! Soup joumou. [grins]I am Haitian to the core! And as you may know, we celebrate Haiti’s independence at New Year’s time. Soup Joumo—or pumpkin soup) is our traditional cuisine that we eat! It’s something we all look forward to each year. As the time to have it approached last December, I couldn’t help but get excited. The song kind of came to me soon after so I posted a video of it![Laughter]. A lot of people got a kick out of it, which is awesome! [smiles]
K. St. Fort: Have your parents been your biggest champions when it comes to your being involved in the music industry?
Hmm…Yes and no. My journey with music is interesting in that I tend to think my passion for it came before my talent! The reason I share that in this context is because both of my parents later admitted that they are pleasantly surprised at how much I’ve come around because of how much I sucked when I was younger! [Laughter]
You see, I’ve always loved singing! But that doesn’t mean I always knew how![Laughter] I now realize that it’s probably because I didn’t understand my voice and the fact that it is naturally alto/deep. So when my high-pitch singing, soprano sister would sing, I would mimic her, trying to force the sounds out to be just like her! It wasn’t very pretty! [Laughter] But I just kept singing! People would tell me I sounded bad and to stop but I didn’t want to!
Eventually when I was in my teens, I began to get a little better. Then at 16 years old, someone invited me to sing at their church event. When my mother got wind that I’d be singing in public, she emphatically tried to stop me because she didn’t want me to embarrass myself! [Laughter] She said, “Naida, there are some people who sing in public. But then there are others who sing privately among family because our voices aren’t the best. I am like that and so are you. Please don’t do this to yourself.” Gotta love my momma. [Grins] I decided to go anyway, as there was one mentor who believed in my singing, (albeit, by faith).
The rest is history! I kept singing, kept getting better, and began to harness my own voice. Later, my dad (and mom) expressed their new found faith that anyone can master anything because of how I did! My dad later bought me my first guitar and now the both of them are some of my biggest fans!
K. St. Fort: Musically-speaking, who do you admire?
Yay! Thank you for asking this question! I’m so excited because I love talking about the people who inspire me and who I admire! The main ones are Tori Kelly, a band by the name of Johnnyswim, and another band named For King and Country. What I love about each of them is their transparency, the way they’ve broken molds, and the way they each live unapologetic, quality lives of inspiration, purpose, and fun! They’ve definitely influenced me.
Regarding those who have influenced me musically, I actually struggle to pinpoint it. Growing up, I was exposed mostly to Haitian Hymnals, popular boy bands, CCM, and other known pop singers. Outside of the Backstreet Boys, I never really took a deep liking to any particular person such that their styles predominantly leaked into mine. Because of that, a lot of my music is diverse—one minute incorporating the swing-sway rhythms of the islands and the next, popping like a 90’s rock song.
However, if I absolutely had to say one person who stood out amongst the hodgepodge of music I consumed, it would be a little known artist by the name of Warren Barfield. It wasn’t till about a year ago that I stumbled upon his music and realized that a good portion of my songs resembled his style. I was really into his music in my early 20’s, which is around the time when much of my songwriting began to take shape. So, there you go!
[Photography Credit: Timed Beauty by Sally, Oscar Torres and Behind the Face Photography]
This concludes Part 1 of the interview with Naida Lynn. Be sure to look out for Part 2. Meanwhile…
CLICK HERE to buy her music on iTunes.