One thing that I’m always critical about and always looking out for from an artiste is how they sound outside of the studio. There are a few gems/singers out there that can replicate the same sound from the track in the studio to when they are performing live. I believe these gems should be treasured because…… dis anuh no play ting!
Naomi Cowan is indeed a gem.
Photo by: Nickii Kane
Why do you sing?
Naomi: I sing for people. As I have experimented with different talents that I have, I’ve realized that my core intention is to reach people in a positive way, tell stories, connect with them and hopefully, give them the freedom to tell their own stories. I sing because of what it does in the hearts of other people. I think music is so powerful and it is a tool that we can use for good so, that’s why I sing.
You are known in some parts for your work as a TV host/producer. How has the transition to the music industry been for you?
The transition has been quite interesting, multi-layered. Not only have I been transitioning into music from television but I have also been transitioning from countries. I was living in Toronto around this time last year. On the inside of the music industry, what I have been picking up, is that a lot of people are observing and watching me. Not in a bad way but different artistes have come up to me and say, “I wah see wah you a come wid” Seeing that I’m the child of my parents (laughs) people are interested to see if I’m going to be exactly like my Mom, what kind of vibe I’m coming with etc.
Another big part of the transition is the fact that as a TV host and producer, for the most part, unless you have your own show your job as host is to tell someone else’s story or the story of a brand but as a singer, you’re using your voice. You’re not speaking on behalf of anyone. So, the transition has been pretty cool.
Speaking of your parents (Carlene Davis & Tommy Cowan) Does it ever get overbearing or annoying that people often times make reference to them before they get to you as an artiste?
When I was very young it used to be annoying, which is probably one of the reasons why I didn’t do music from earlier. I would be like, “I’m my own person. Stop asking me to sing in public! I don’t know you from anywhere” (laughs) I used to be a bit sassy about this whole thing. Now, I don’t have a problem with it. At the end of the day, the work that they have done is impressive. What they have done for the industry is phenomenal. So, for me, to be prefaced by that is a honour. Not only because of their reputation but who I know they are and what people see them as. Some people see them as royalty, legends even. To be prefaced by that is a huge responsibility but more than anything, it is a honour.
Cool cool. They are stalwarts in the business indeed. Alright, back to the music. When did songwriting come about for you?
Ooooo that’s kinda tough because I grew up being in the studio and always pitching in on some of my Mom’s stuff but it was about in 2011 when I started to go into the practice and the discipline of it. Then couple years after I picked up the guitar and taught myself how to play, so I could sing, play and write on my own time.
I was first introduced to your music when you made an appearance on Smile Jamaica (popular early morning TV show) From the first note! I was really impressed and didn’t care about your last name lol. What was that experience like for you?
Oh wow! yeah that was cool, especially being on a live television show. It’s familiar territory for me but it was unfamiliar in a sense because I was singing. It was a blessing to be able to perform when Emprezz was hosting. I’ve known her for quite sometime. I was an intern back in the days with her in television. I loved it! Smile Jamaica is a great opportunity to be able to connect with all of Jamaica and I got some positive feedback. Next time though, I want to perform with musicians.
I have also seen you perform live and it is evident that you have been working on your craft for a while. Talk to me about your vocal training (if any) and how important live performance is for you.
Let me tell you, I love performing live. I have always been a performer. When I was younger, if I knew that my parents were having over guests, I would call my neighbours and be like, “We gonna put on a show! We going to do dance, drama and singing. I’m going to collect $100 from every person” So that everybody could buy a patty the next day. So yeah, I was a little hustler from those days (laughs) Performing has just been my thing. I have done every extra-curricular you can think of, drama, singing, football, track and field, gymnastics…..everything!
Thank you for noticing that I have been working on the craft. I feel like live performances is where all the pieces come together and you get to connect with people. As I said, I sing because of people, because I love people. (exhales) It just gives me warm fuzzy feelings when I can perform with a band and there is good sound and lighting and all of that coming together. My vocal training has been mostly led by listening a lot. I have listened to so many different vocalist while growing up. Of course, with my Mom being my first influence. To be honest, singing at church has helped me as well because every Sunday I used to go up there and sing different type of songs and every week I would discover new parts of my voice. I haven’t worked with a coach professionally on a consistent basis but I will see specialists from time to time. Honestly, a lot of it has just been me practicing.
Your first single is ‘Things You Say You Love’ featuring Mark Pelli (from pop-reggae band, MAGIC!). How did you get to link up with Mark for this track?
Mark is a Toronto native that lives in LA (Los Angeles) I have a friend in Toronto who is kinda integrated into the music industry, he is the one who introduced me to Mark.
Watch the official music video below:
Put your playlist on shuffle and give me the first five selections let’s see what you got.
- Matt Corby – Made of Stone
- Naomi Cowan – Paradise Plum
- Kid Cudi – Pursuit of Happiness
- Lorna Bennett – Stop Look Listen
- Far East Riddim (produced by King Jammys)
Apart from music, you are also passionate about giving back. Tell us about some of the projects that you have been involved with.
Over the years I’ve always made an effort to invest into the lives of others, to be the voice for them. The Mary’s Child Home for Teen Moms is a place where I invested lots of time doing motivational sessions on the weekends and taking the girls out to different events. This was steadily between 2012-2014. I even created my own little non-profit organization ‘NCouraged’ to foster that. When I moved back to Toronto, I was able to get donations through Food for the Poor sent to the home.
In Toronto. I co-founded ‘Studio Bud’ an initiative where we run creative workshops with youth to help build their creative confidence. One of my proudest moments in Toronto was helping to co-ordinate ‘Love Toronto’ where we fed over 200 homeless people and over 100 people volunteered, It was MAGICAL.
In closing, what message would you like to leave with the people?
Be everything that you are.
That’s where we end our chat with Naomi. Wild ride right? Be sure to look out for her follow up single, Paradise Plum (produced by Teflon ZincFence) on May 4th!
Photo by: Nathan Patrick Photography