Caribbean-Dutch singer Naomi Sharon wants you to know that you deserve better


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Caribbean-Dutch singer Naomi Sharon wants you to know that you deserve better

Caribbean-Dutch singer Naomi Sharon dropped her debut album ‘Obsidian’ in October 2023, a project that shares evocative details of her heartbreak through track-to-track montages of bittersweet nostalgia. She hopes the stories shared in the songs can help others navigate through their own heartbreak, and that now, post release, she can leave her relationship sorrows behind to manifest the love she deserves.

While her first full-length project, ‘Obsidian’ is far from Sharon’s first release: her singles ‘Breeze’ and ‘Deeper’ have captured the imagination of many musical tastemakers, from Apple Radio host Ebro Darden to Drake. The hip-hop super star even signed her to OVO Sound as a result, making her the label’s first woman signee.

Following her A COLORS SHOW performance of ‘Nothing Sweeter’, we spoke with Caribbean-Dutch singer Naomi Sharon about embracing her journey towards healing, writing songs that echo real life experiences, and how signing with OVO Sound ensured her creative integrity.

Hi Naomi, how’s your day going? You just posted on Instagram about cutting your hair. How are you feeling?

I feel relieved. I’ve never had it so short. I believe hair can hold a lot of energy. I feel like I’m entering a new phase in my life, and I think that is also connected with ‘Obsidian’ being done and out in the world. That in itself was a big relief. By letting go of the emotions I left in those songs, I feel like I can finally move on. Often, when I’m entering a new phase in my life, I go for a drastic new look.

What’s your earliest musical memory?

When I was four-years-old I watched my cousin perform at a talent show. I managed to sneak away from my mom and dad to climb up onto the stage and started to perform right in front of my cousin. It’s so odd, I don’t remember leaving my parents’ side. One second I was watching the show, and the next I was center stage. I was always drawn to music and performing.

You went on to perform in stage productions, what drew you to theater? 

I took musical theater as an elective in high school, and then I went to theater school because I fell in love with performing. While I was working on ‘Dream Girls’ and ‘The Lion King’, touring the Netherlands for over two years, I learned so much discipline and skills that helped me grow as an artist. I didn’t have the ambition to continue with theater, I knew I didn’t plan to become a theater star, but I knew I liked the thrill of performing.

What prompted you to pursue a solo career?

During ‘The Lion King’ I began missing my individuality after playing the role 8 times a week for two years. I would use the time in my dressing room to look up beats and imagine the style of music I could create. Then, because of the intensity of ‘The Lion King’ production, I had to have vocal surgery. During my recovery I had to re-find my voice. That’s when I recorded my first song, ‘The Moon’.

How did you feel after releasing ‘The Moon’?

Within the first few weeks of releasing it, I received an email from someone at Apple Music saying that they’d discovered the song. This led to Ebro Darden featuring me as a ‘new artist’ on Apple Radio. After having that experience I knew I had to push forward.

You went on to release two more tracks. They caught the attention of Drake, who sent you an Instagram DM asking to check out your music.

Exactly. It was a very surreal moment.

We have to mention that you’re OVO Sound’s first woman signee.

It’s so special for me to be that woman. I remember watching Drake’s interview with RapRadar where he said he was looking for a female artist to sign, never thinking I would be who he’d discover. To this day, I’m so grateful.

“I used ‘Obsidian’ as a diary, the songs echo what I was dealing with in my own life.”

What aspects of OVO felt like a good fit for you? What drew you towards the label?

I like that they’re a boutique label. There’s an intimacy to the team, yet they also manage to have a major impact in the industry. This is not only because they have Drake as their former CEO—it’s also due to the work of Noah James Shebib (aka 40) and Oliver El-Khatib. The three of them had this amazing idea for a label that was different; one that doesn’t limit its artists. It’s always been so important for me to remain true to my voice and my ideas.

You often hear stories of artists signing to major labels and losing their creative integrity. At OVO they’ve changed that narrative with the way they facilitate their artists. We’re like family.

Could you share some of the best advice the OVO team has given you? 

Before I began creating my album, I sat down with Drake. He said that he liked my sound, but wondered what I could do with an uptempo beat. He believes it’s important for songs to enter clubs, since there’s a huge audience there. He’s also a huge believer in trying new things, so he was advising me to step outside of my comfort zone. I took his advice seriously, and was challenged by it. I asked myself, ‘how can I attract an uptempo audience into my world while staying authentic to my style?’ That’s what I did with ‘Obsidian’.

The project is uptempo, yet your lyrics and storytelling still pull focus.

Thank you for saying that. For me it’s the biggest compliment when people comment on my lyrics because storytelling is so important to me.

A lot of people compare me to Sade. I get it, and it’s a huge compliment, but in many ways it’s a disservice to both of our writing to continuously draw this parallel. Sade is timeless, and deserves to receive her flowers on her own for the legend that she is.

Who are some of you biggest musical inspirations?

Whenever I get asked about my inspirations I always talk about Sting because of his writing. I was always drawn to him lyrically. It’s a dream of mine to collaborate with Sting, his melodies have always inspired me.

What’s your favorite Sting song?

‘Fragile’ is my favorite. I was listening to it recently and decided to check if he had any co-writers for the track. I discovered he was the sole writer, which immediately made me a bigger fan. I really believe he’s a genius.

“Healing can be very dark at times. You may feel like there isn’t an end to what you’re feeling, but there certainly is.”

On ‘Obsidian’ you address themes including healing, the resilience of love, and rebirth after heartbreak. What made you want to discuss these topics on your debut album?

I only make songs that are personal and honest. During that time, I used ‘Obsidian’ as a diary. The songs echo what I was dealing with in my own life.

How did the release of those emotions help towards your personal healing?

I’m still healing. With every month the pain gets easier to deal with. When I look back, I respect the fact that I have survived some of my most depressing moments—moments I’ve had to push through to get to where I am today.

Healing is so huge. I didn’t want the whole album to be about heartbreak and sadness. I wanted to shine a light on hope so people know that they also deserve better.

Can you tell us about the song you performed for COLORS?

‘Nothing Sweeter’ was written by Liz Rodrigues and James Bryan while I was recording ‘Obsidian’. The track didn’t quite fit the album, and I knew it needed its own moment. Since it’s such a vulnerable song, I wanted to find a special place to perform it live.

I wanted to add an uplifting song to ‘Obsidian’, but at the time I couldn’t wrap my head around something positive. Liz encouraged me to see the heartbreak as a lesson, and to be open to creating songs about love again; to manifest the love I want. That’s what ‘Nothing Sweeter’ is.

Is there a particular lyric from the song that resonates with you?

The opening line, ‘you flow through me, moving me’. I improvised this melody in the studio with the guitarist performing alongside me. It feels very personal.

If you could send one message to our listeners, what would it be?

Healing can be very dark at times. You may feel like there isn’t an end to what you’re feeling, but there certainly is. Whenever you are going through the darkest parts, know the end is near.

Naomi Sharon is a Caribbean-Dutch artist whose A COLORS SHOW was released on 29th January 2024. You can watch the full performance on our YouTube channel.

Text: Katerina Lytras
Photography: Brandon Bowen and Megan Courtis (second portrait and object images)


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