Questions with Spoken Word Artist Naki Akrobettoe

Nov 19, 2014 • Articles, Ghana, Interviews, Music, USANo Comments

‘A Timeless Miracle‘ is the upcoming album from Spoken word artist Naki Akrobettoe. Recently, we were privileged to interview Naki about the album as well as her inspirations and influences.

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Hi Naki, thank you for taking time out to do this interview. Please introduce yourself?
Hello World! My name is Naki Akrobettoe. I’m a spoken word artist, poet, and lover of words *smile*. I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. My father is from Ghana West Africa and my mother is from West Virginia.

 

You have been performing poetry for a while now. How did you get involved in spoken word?
I always like to attest that poetry found me. I got introduced to spoken word in my adolescent years. Back in Columbus we used to have this spot called “Snaps & Taps” that was like the Mecca of poetry. That is where I attended my first workshop headed by Brother IsSaid. From that exposure there I always felt inclined to explore more about the power that comes from being in front of people and captivating their attention.

 

Your sophomore album ‘A Timeless Miracle‘ will be coming out in December. Can you tell us a little bit about the concept and inspiration for this album?
A Timeless Miracle was birthed out a space of desire. I was so thirsty to create and wasn’t necessarily clear on exactly what but I remember the night I called my friend up and told him “Hey,….I want to create a live improv album”. I felt that I had met an amazing drummer and that was the foundation of how the rest fell into place. The concept was to improv the entire recording, no rehearsal. The musicians didn’t hear my poems. Ultimately that is what happend. Honestly the intent was to create an amazing body of work that fused jazz, poetry and soul. From there I wanted every person to use my music as an inspiration to find within themselves something that is timeless and then knowing that every day we wake up that in itself is a miracle.

 

I was just listening to ‘In the Meantime’ (One of the tracks on the album). I love the addition of Jazz as a backdrop. Tell us about the track and the message you are hoping that your listeners take from the single?
Thank you for taking the time to listen. That particular poem/song is very special for me because it really embodies the journey I’m on especially in my art. I would not have the gift of exhortation if it weren’t for the Divine Most High. ‘In the Meantime’ is my way of acknowledging my growth and just giving reverence that in all that I do even in my writing I will wait on God. I listen to that song often because it really represents worship to me and is a genuine conversation with God. I’m hoping people take away a smile and a sense of knowing that our lives and communication matters Speak the matters of your heart.

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Are there any performance artists that have been influential in your style of work?
Hands down Jill Scott. She had always been frank with people that she started out as a poet. Her ability to fuse music with spoken word and singing is classic, but I would also include Floetry, Lauryn Hill, Bahamadia, Malik Yusef, Sierra Leone, and Sunni Patterson.

 

In your bio, it states that you are a ‘Granddaughter of Ghanaian royalty and an American coal miner’ Would you say that heritage and upbringing play any role in your style of work?
My heritage is very valuable in my work and presentation as well as brand. Being literally an African and an American I identify with both cultures so for me its important that people understand that and can see that. Because I didn’t grow up in Ghana I still feel like a part of me is missing but I know that in the spirit of Sankofa my continuous journey back home will give me more to write about and share with my audience. Even as of late as I close up on getting my MFA in Poetry I’m learning that naturally we as Afrikan people traditionally are story tellers and we pass our stories down orally but in the academic world poetry is about line, tone, syntax, language, rhythm, and how to use white space on the page. I am learning to fuse both together and that is the self realization of my own understanding of what poetry means to me.

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How is the general response to your work. Would you say it changes depending on the the type of crowd that you perform to?
It has been pretty consistent. People are so kind and most often approach me with generous praise. It is often said I tend to captivate the audience with my voice. I would say I studied Jill Scott well enough to know…”let the words speak for themselves”. There is a poem I speak often when I’m on stage entitled “A Poem That Healed” dedicated to my aunt who passed away from cancer and I share it not to be sad or make others sad but I share it with the intent of healing for myself and to celebrate how she encouraged me to never give up on my dreams with writing and poetry and performing.

 

A lot of youth are looking to spoken word as a creative outlet. Why do you think this is? And do you have any advice to anyone interested in embarking on a career in performance poetry?
I think its because poetry breeds a lot of compassion. We writers or at least the people I know purge through our pens. Its our way of communicating what we feel and how we see this world. It’s our anecdote to pain and everyone wants to feel good so we write to heal. Men mentors have told me Poetry won’t make you rich so if you are in it for money then you are in it for the wrong reason. However doesn’t mean it can’t be the catalyst to other opportunities to generate an income. If you want to make a career out it, be ready to get your feelings hurt. Be honest and clear about your intentions and goals and just know there are ALOT OF POETS. There is nothing new under the sun. Be original and authentic and let your character, and creativity speak for itself.

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In your opinion, what’s most significant about spoken word poetry, and how do you hope to build upon its impact in the years to come?
Great question….poetry is timeless…hence the name of my album “A Timeless Miracle”. It is so significant that because its a time capsule. It documents in details events, stories, feelings, thoughts, visions and more. That is power. It is said that there is life and death in the tongue. You set your atmosphere based on what you speak and then walk into. I firmly believe in that. I believe poetry and spoken word to be a tool of transforming this world. It is activism so my hopes are to encourage people to find their own timeless miracle and share that gift with the world. Each life matters….

 

How can readers learn more about your work?
My website is www.nakispeaks.com
I’m on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.
The album will be available digitally Dec. 16, 2014 but is currently available to pre-order now at bandcamp.

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Interview by H.Esi

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