After nearly falling off the Namibian radar since making a short re-appearance at the Namibia Annual Music Awards in 2015, the Omaruru-born and Windhoek-bred Nianell speaks to us about her latest projects, family and her home in South Africa.
At 45, the mother of three girls says she has no plans of retiring anytime soon. If anything, she plans to work harder. “I love what I do and I’ll die doing it,” she says.
Nianell is not just an award-winning performance artist. She is now an author, a motivational speaker and a certified instructor of theta healing – a meditative technique that focuses on thought and prayer. On top of that, she is a single mother to her triplet daughters – Kaeley, Jade and Tayden – who turned nine this year.
Born Sonia Aletta Nell, Nianell stormed to stardom with her track ‘Who Painted the Moon’. The track – and the album – went on to dominate international airwaves, more so when New Zealander singer and songwriter Hayley Dee Westenra did a cover version of the track. The track sold over two million copies worldwide.
Speaking to New Era Weekend from her home in Johannesburg, where she lives with her daughters, Nianell reveals that she is currently working on a new album, ‘Beautiful Escape’, which is due for release in March next year.
In addition to the new album, Nianell is also writing her second book while she is involved in giving life-coaching sessions.
“I am busy writing my second book and launching a new website soon with exciting information on how to maintain a balance in your life mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually,” says Nianell, who, according to records, was part of the 1998 Namibian netball national team.
The book would be a follow up to her first published best-selling motivational book titled ‘Knowing who I am’, which was also translated in Afrikaans with the title: ‘Om Te Weet Wie Ek Is’.
The question is, how did she make it this far? Well, Nianell, says that her journey to stardom took sacrifice and hard work.
“I had to travel… I came to study music in South Africa and then I worked very hard to establish myself. I own all my products and I recorded my own music,” she says.
Interestingly for a southern African singer, Nianell includes elements of Folk, Pop, R&B, Country, Classic and Celtic music in her song-writing, and accompanies herself on piano and acoustic guitar. The contrast in her work is obvious when comparing her debut album ‘Who Painted the Moon’ and the subsequent album ‘Angel Tongue’ – in the songs such as ‘We’ll Find A Way’ (2004). She would go on to tantalise the audience with consistent avalanche of award-winning albums ‘Life’s Gift’ (2006), ‘I Know I’m Lucky’ (2008), the sprawling ‘Sand & Water’ (2010), ‘My Heart’ (2012) and her latest ‘Just Be’ (2014). Nianell has performed with world-renowned singers such as Andrea Bocelli, Christina Aguilera, Diana Ross and Shakira.
Nianell says she believes that with hard work money is inevitable and explains that it is what one believes about money that would create their money reality.
“Money is just paper…it can be made anywhere,” she replies, when asked where she feels she is more successful because she chose to launch her career and establish herself in South Africa, opposed to having launched herself and based her business in Namibia.
But she does keep an eye on the Namibian music industry. “I believe the music industry, Namibia, is growing and I am very happy about that. I performed at the NAMAs last year and the talent was amazing,” she says.
Part of her hectic workload involves giving courses on a meditative technique that focuses on thought and prayer, called The ThetaHealing. The technique is always taught to be used in conjunction with conventional medicine.
According to the Thetahealing wesbite, the technique teaches how to put to use one’s own natural intuition, relying upon unconditional love of Creator of All That Is to do the actual “work”.
“We believe by changing your brain wave cycle to include the “Theta” state, you can actually watch the Creator Of All That Is create instantaneous physical and emotional wellbeing. We have learned that through the ThetaHealing Technique intuitive abilities can be used to bring about spontaneous physical and emotional wellbeing. Our philosophy is to live, train, and coach others how to achieve a better life through the pure essence of love.”
Nianell is one of the qualified instructors to give classes and courses in Thetahealing Master and Certificate of Science.
Asked if she has aspirations of settling in Namibia, Nianell, responded with an elusive smile and a “maybe”, before saying that she visits her country of birth as often as she can.
“…Usually I travel in and out with shows. And, I make a plan to visit once a year because my father and sister live there. It’s just so lovely to go home once in a while,” says Nianell.