Ladybrille® Blogazine


Monday, March 30, 2009

Wayna, Ethiopia’s Grammy Nominated Artist

Most entrepreneurs will tell you it is not easy running a business. You have to set up shop, hire employees, handle all the administrative paperwork and if you are like Ethiopia's Grammy Nominated Wayna, you also have to build, refine and fine tune your music skills which keeps fans coming back for more. So, it is particularly sweet, especially for a small business entrepreneur, when you are recognized for all of your hard work on a national and global platform. LADYBRILLE is delighted to introduce Ethiopia’s Grammy Nominated Wayna to you in our signature indepth interview. In this Part I interview, Wayna discusses her experience as an immigrant and leaving her job as a writer for the Clinton Administration to pursue music. Wayna so you were born in Ethiopia.
Yes. I was born in Ethiopia and then I immigrated to the States with my mom when I was a toddler. [laughs] Toddler? That doesn’t really count!
[Laughs] [continues] Depending on who you talk to, they would say, “are you kidding me? She is as American as they get.” [laughs] But you have said on so many [platforms] that you were deeply entrenched in Ethiopian culture. Can you explain a little more about that?
There are a couple of things. [W]hen we first came here [D.C.], there were not a lot of Ethiopians. Now, there are Ethiopians everywhere. [W]hen we first came, it was like a group under a hundred of Ethiopian citizens so we really had to stick together to preserve our sense of community. It was a different time and people were less tolerant of other cultures. Being an immigrant, we were more of the novelty. I think that coupled with the type of woman that my mom is. There are people who come here and kind of absorb parts of American culture that they want to integrate into their personalities.Then there are some who are close to their upbringing and their values. My mom was definitely the latter.

If you met her and spoke with her today, you won’t believe she has lived in the United States for 30 plus years. She is very much the same person she was when she first came here. So, those two things created a bubble for me where I felt like I was living in Ethiopia in America. I am very familiar with the DC area and yes indeed DC is dominated with Ethiopians. [Laughs] From under a 100 to total domination, Adam’s Morgan, the associations, conferences and soccer tournaments. I think you guys did a great job preserving the culture.
[gives a hearty laughter] So, how did this young woman who was working as a writer for the Clinton Administration transition into music and why music?
It was always at the heart of what I like. Anytime I heard music, performance on television, I was completely captivated. More strange is that I would venture into a professional world and try to live that world. I feel like I was pretending in that world. That was different for me than being an artist. Being an artist was always what I loved to do and did most naturally.

My culture also played a role in that my mom had given up so much to bring me here so I could get an education. Like many African [parents who have migrated here], her hope was I could go to school, have a stable job, become a lawyer. That whole dream was something I felt obligated to pursue and so that is why I studied English and started working in politics. But, I found out pretty quickly that I was not happy and no matter how proud I made her, I wasn’t happy. At some point, I needed to take the risk and at that point she had enough confidence that I could find my way and would be taken care of. It was a tough mental and emotional leap for me. Trying to find your calling is a scary thing. It is! So you have this stability and you chose to go into a more unstable environment. Did you have savings set aside you could draw on as you tried to establish yourself?
I started initially working part time. I was a consultant. Then I started working with producers, trying to produce my CD. But I was a little naïve in terms of how much it would take to produce an independent project. I also went through a period where I was going through an independent label that collapsed. Instead of relying on them to fund the project, I had to come up with it myself. I had to go back to work [for] a year to save enough money to fund the project so I could release it on my own. That must have taught you a lot as a business woman and artist.
Absolutely. [I] really wanted to be an artist but there were other muscles I had to learn to flex in order to be an artist. For whatever reason, my path was more complicated and I think God wanted me to learn different aspects of the business, even the production side that I would not have voluntarily taken on. For whatever reason, it has been my journey. But with that character development that you learned, I would think it spilled and applies to your work. So, how would define yourself as an artist?
Oh my God! [pauses] I am a story teller. I am most inspired by telling the stories of people whose voices are not normally heard and relating it to other communities that otherwise do not feel connected to them. On a deeper level, that is sort of where I am as a writer and artistically. [I]t is the thing that is most enjoyable and rewarding for me to do.



Theme images by Jason Morrow. Powered by Blogger.

© 2007-2017 Ladybrille® Blogazine, All Rights Reserved.

Designed by ScreenWritersArena