WINDHOEK – New Era sat with multi-awarding winning artist, N.I.A who this year scooped the best gospel award for the song ‘I give my life to you,’ featuring Monique English, at the Namibian Annual Music Awards (NAMAs).
N.I.A whose real name is Ian Wellington spoke compassionately for those in need during the interview.
Wellington whose music is influenced by American rapper Tupac started rapping early on in life.
N.I.A means nonchalant in action. Simply put this means that he is cool under pressure. “I don’t let much bother me. Growing up without a father, Tupac’s music had a lot of answers to the questions I had as a confused adolescent,” explained Wellington of his stage name and music influence.
Wellington spent most of his childhood globetrotting with his diplomat mother. However, he remained in the United States to continue with his studies when his mother returned to Namibia.
It is there where he strayed in life and begun to experience hardships that molded his character to who he is today, he explained.
This also drew him closer to God, he explained.
When he returned to Namibia in 2012, he dedicated his time to music.
His first album came out in 2013. He could not commit to professional music in the United States because he was in school.
“In Namibia, it is a little more relaxed,” explained Wellington who does conscious Hip Hop and gospel. Conscious Hip Hop deals with social issues, as depicted in Wellington’s music.
“I went through so much,” he said and further explained how the struggles he faced while growing up influenced his music.
As a matter of fact, this experience has humbled and taught him to not look down on anybody, regardless of their social status.
“I am very aware of how I treat people,” he said.
Societal issues also influenced his music. Compassion is literary written all over his face as he on several occasions, during our interview emphasised on the importance of humility, respecting humanity and loving people. “If you say you love somebody, you cannot do that without loving God,” he shared, explaining his Christian faith and the influence it has on his music. It is these qualities that drove him to start a charity organisation called ‘The Helping Hand,’ which ploughs back to the needy in society.
“I ask people to donate food and clothes. I do not accept cash donations and I don’t take stuff that has holes in them. The clothes have to be presentable. You cannot hurt people’s morale when they are already struggling. I always try to help because it is hard out there,” he said.
Having travelled so much has shaped his perspective on life and his music, the artist notes. This he believes has had a positive impact on his work (music) which is appreciated by his fans. Wellington describes it like this: “everybody has a struggle but every struggle is different.”
Having various experiences from the countries that he is been to is a comparative advantage he does not take lightly, as it gives him the ability to project a message (through his music) differently from those who grew up here,” he responded, when asked what makes him different from his fellow artists here. Family values are very important to Wellington, he states. This is also depicted in the songs ‘More Love’ and ‘Change’.
Explaining the motivation behind ‘More Love’, the song no doubt means a lot to him, he says.
After God, family is important to him and so, he sings of a time when his family was divided after the death of his grandmother.
‘Too many families broke up because we hold on to pride…’ is a verse from ‘Change’. Wellington explained: “Grandma was the glue that kept the family together.” He also sings of his grandmother being the glue that holds the family together in ‘More Love’.
Although the song is important to him, Wellington said he could not handpick one song as his favourite from all the songs he has produced.
This is because just like with children, you cannot pick a favourite. “They are all different and yet you love them,” he explained. He also speaks with pride of his son, Caleb Noah, who was born in 2015.
“I hope to be his role model. When my son was born I found myself in a different space,” he said, his voice did not betray the fact that he wants what is best for Noah. And this too is also evident in the song ‘Heavenly Father’ where the musician featured Ponti.
On being a multi-award winning artist, Wellington who quickly rose to stardom when he emerged on the local music scene said: “it is a big accomplishment. It is very humbling. There are so many people who have done music for so long and they never won an award.”
His message to fellow artists is that they should strive to remain humble because “we are just human”.
Humility is not only key for the industry but for life, he adds. And to succeed, artists have to give it their all, advised Wellington. “Work hard. “If you do not work hard, you will be left out, especially in our industry,” he advised. Also, remaining relevant is vital, he adds. Consequently, if an artist stays long without producing music they might lose their relevance, Wellington believes.
“I hope to be blessed enough to keep doing music,” responded Wellington, when asked where he sees himself in five years. He also expressed appreciation to his fans for the support over the years.