Fiery-Haired and Angel Tongued
With Africa having been duly placed on the entertainment industry map at this year's Academy Awards, the world has been provided with irrefutable evidence that the creative talent that our continent has to offer is indeed world-class force to be reckoned with. But this is not the first time that an African entertainer's creations have been appropriately appreciated and celebrated in the international arena. "Who Painted the Moon?", the serenely pure and hauntingly beautiful debut album from Namibian born singer-songwriter Nianell, has been playlisted on scores of Adult Contemporary radio stations in the US and Canada.The album has also produced five Top 20 radio hits in South Africa (Have faith, Isn't it?, As one, Just for tonight and Who painted the moon) and the mesmerising title track has been covered by international singer Hayley Westerna on her album Pure, which has sold over 1.2 million copies so far. With the recent release of her new album Angel Tongue, it is clear that this captivating artist has a lot more intriguing music to offer Africa and the rest of the world.
Nianell was born between the urban sprawl of Windhoek and Swakopmund, in the tiny little Namibian town of Omaruru. She grew up in the capital city Windhoek, and after school, she majored in music at Pretoria Technikon earning a diploma in light music. She has also studied music through London's Trinity College. Her rich, 3 and a half octave vocal range ensured that she was awarded numerous musical accolades, including the prestigious Crescendo prize for tone setting, and she has performed in Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Latvia and France. But her rise to musical recognition has by no means been pure smooth sailing. "I've been through all the ins and outs of being a muso!", she laughs. "After I moved to Johannesburg, I found a job playing piano and singing in hotels.
It was a good experience for me because I got the chance to practice singing and playing new material that I had composed
Falling outside the boundaries of mainstream pop or rock, Nianell's music is difficult to categorise. There are elements of folk, pop, R&B, country, classical and even Celtic, all fused into her own personal and unique style that has made her one of the most exciting artists in the world of music today. "I have always had an open ear, and mind, for music from other countries, and I love composing in different styles. Music is rich, timeless,powerfully distinctive and hypnotic. When you listen to it, its like taking a trip to your inner soul." Most of her songs have a strong sense of spirituality without the paraphernalia of pop religion and this can be heard to great effect on her new album.
"Angel tongue" is a remarkable record, continuing the diverse musical journey started on "Who painted the moon" ; from the R&B/Pop inflected groove of the first single"Life" (currently playlisted on every station) through the country tinged heartache of "Running so long" and "A real strong man", to the inspirational "We'll find a way" ,it's clear to the listener that Nianell has raised the bar more than a few notches. Her songwriting has matured dramatically, incorporating stronger hooks and melodies that have underscored her growing reputation as one of the most exciting composers internationally. Likewise, vocally, she has extended both her range and delivery,as evidenced on the jaw-dropping "It's so absurd".Nianell feels " for the first time, in the recording studio, I have been able to really sing the songs in the way that I wrote them, with no boundries".Other highlights include the achingly beautiful "How many times" which explores the complexities of both love and the human psyche and the stomping blues shouter "Monday", recorded live on tour.
Absolutely everything about Nianell oozes music- from her presence, to the way her green eyes light up as she talks you through her album, to her intense descriptions of each of her songs. She writes and composes all her material and you have no choice but to believe her when she says "music has always been the thread that keeps my soul together," – you can feel it in everything she does. "I find it challenging to listen to music- I have the need to create it. I love feeling my music through an audience." She continues, "Most of my songs come to me when I'm driving or drifting off. My head is always full of melodies! In fact, I usually write melodies first and then the lyrics." Nianell has even created her own interestingly strange and captivating musical language. "Sometimes I don't add any lyrics to my melodies at all. Instead I make certain sounds– it's a special language I call Angel Tongue. I do this because I feel that sometimes lyrics limit your interpretation of a song – they tell you how you should interpret the song. Angel Tongue allows the listener the freedom to interpret the music in whichever way they like."
Nianell truly is both a uniquely talented, and a uniquely beautiful person. "I am a very spiritual and deep person. In fact some people think I'm too deep! They say, "you need to learn to just talk about the weather sometimes!" But I can't! I love people experiences - it inspires me! So I'd rather talk to people about that." Here are some more interesting facts on Nianell:
- Omaruru (the quaint Namibian town she was born in) is so small that she was the only baby in the hospital the day she was born.
- Combining her love of music with her deep connection with children (she actively supports several children's rights initiatives) she taught music at a primary school for a short while.
- Every successful artist needs a 'rock' and her husband Andrew Thompson shares her passion for music as well as a love for dogs (they have two Staffies - Dylan and Tamsyn.) Their anniversary is 27 April (Freedom Day), they chose this wedding date because Nianell believes "there is a new freedom to be found and experienced in marriage."
- She writes and composes all her own music and plays the piano and the acoustic guitar.
- A self-proclaimed passionate workaholic, she owns a registered company called Nianell Enterprises (Pty Ltd), which funded the recording and making of both Who Painted the Moon? and Angel Tongue
- She was nominated for a SAMA award in 2002 in the "Best Adult Contemporary Album – English" category
- According to Portland, USA's, Adult Contemporary Music Research Letter, 4 songs off the Who Painted the Moon? album tested at the "highly recommended level. The songs were As One, Isn't It, Who Painted the Moon, and Take Me Home.
- Five songs from "Who Painted the Moon" has been play listed on almost every radio station in South Africa and Namibia, including Highveld Stereo, Jacaranda, KFM, East Coast Radio, 5FM, RSG, Algoa, OFM, and Radio Wave, to name a few.
- Nianell's songs have been featured on the following compilations:
- Just for Tonight featured on "This Love is Unbreakable"
- As One featured on "Home Grown Volume 2"
- Have Faith featured on the "Big Brother 2"
- Have Faith featured on the "94.7 Homebru"
- At the beginning of each album, Nianell likes to include an intro "in order to get listeners in the mood, followed by an up-tempo track to lift their spirits."
- She represented her country, Namibia in Netball during 1989.
- Her favourite food is sushi, seafood,Thai food and her favourite, Caprice salad.
- Her favourite colour is burgundy
- Her favourite car is "any big 4-by-4!"
- She wants to live till she's 106!
In a world of popular music where music, artists and songs seem to blend into an never ending cycle of grey sound alikes it's refreshing to know that there are artists that still blaze new diverse musical frontiers, holding true to the spirit of artistic independence and passion for the music. With "Angel tongue" Nianell takes a bold step into the future and with her songs and talent reaches out to music lovers worldwide.
For media purposes contact:
Publicity : Penny Stein @ Pro-File
(011) 884-1613 / email email@example.com
Record Company: Benjy Mudie @ Fresh Music
(011) 467-3051 / 082-4902743 / email firstname.lastname@example.org
Bookings: Andrew Thompson 082-8527067 / email email@example.com
'Angel Tongue' is available at Gemm.