Struggling to find what new artist to fall in love with? Fear not, our contributor Kess Leung is here with the latest and greatest musical recommendations of each week. In this edition, Kess highlights Nigerian R&B singer Dami Oniru.
Hailing from Lagos, Nigeria, Dami Oniru is an R&B/Soul singer with a smooth, velvety voice. Heavily influenced by artists such as Brandy, Usher and Keyshia, her journey with music started from childhood, when she owned a collection of over 300 CDs and was a member of her primary school’s choir. A talented singer-songwriter, Dami put out her first record Iyawo in 2016, and since then has continually released more tracks, both individually and in collaboration with other artists. While she did take a break from music in 2017 to finish her university degree, Dami returned with her long-awaited debut EP Bri’s Lounge in 2019, and has since resumed an active career.
The catchy tune and the singer’s warm vocals make for a song that is fun and pleasant on the ears.
Dami’s first single ‘Iyawo’ quickly transitions from acoustic melodies into a pop tune, accompanied by an addictive beat. The catchy tune and the singer’s warm vocals make for a song that is fun and pleasant on the ears. While it might not have been the most impactful debut song, it did showcase her voice and artistic potential. Later in 2016, Dami dropped a collaborative track with fellow Nigerian singer/rapper Chuza, titled ‘Mind Them’. Fusing Dami’s sweet yet powerful singing with Chuza’s laid-back rapping and a tribal beat, the track showcases Dami’s versatile approach to musical styles.
The following year, Dami released two singles, ‘Fallin’ and ‘Come Home’, as well as an additional 3 tracks for an EP titled Cliché. The melodious piano keys that follow the addictive trap beat in ‘Fallin’ bring Dami’s soothing voice to the forefront of the song, with the singer yearning for a muse in its lyrics. Though sounding romantic at first, the song is actually a spiritual and delicate poem about Dami dealing with the loss of her grandfather by turning to faith, and beautifully exposes her artistic vulnerabilities. Though initiating with a similarly peaceful piano melody, ‘Come Home’ is devoid of any additional instrumentation. The minimalism of the vocal-piano combination help emphasize Dami’s powerful vocals. “Thought we would make it past the moonlight, come rain or sun we’ll still be standing but no” is just one example of the song’s powerful lyrics, expressing Dami’s longing for her lost lover.
Cliché was able to display Dami’s musical versatility, as well as her ability to collaborate with other artists, notably in the beautiful harmonies she shares with fellow Nigerian singer Jinmi Abduls throughout these songs.
Both singles feature a solemn overtone, but are distinctly different in their delivery of their emotional messages. With that being said, Cliché was able to display Dami’s musical versatility, as well as her ability to collaborate with other artists, notably in the beautiful harmonies she shares with fellow Nigerian singer Jinmi Abduls throughout these songs.
As good as her initial tracks were, it was her return 2019 EP Bri’s Lounge that set Dami apart from the rest. The project features producer and singer Remy Baggins, who contributes on supporting vocals and lyrics. Inspired by her love and passion for R&B, Soul and pop, the album is a divergence from the hugely popular Afrobeats style propagated by many Nigerian artists. By exploring unique and creative sounds that infuse multiple genres together, the EP has been on a constant repeat for me and many other fans since it was dropped.
This comforting blanket of vocal layers touches the listener’s soul, body and mind.
One of the project’s stand-out tracks is ‘Alive’, an addictive guitar and percussion-driven track that shifts in tempo throughout. The sensuality of ‘See’ seamlessly blends Dami’s breathy voice with Remy’s husky vocals, forming a catchy and compelling musical fusion. The album’s last track, ‘Higher’, my favourite on the EP, is a stripped-down piece that showcases Dami’s intoxicating voice, as well as her ingenious ability to harmonize strong lead vocals with soothing ad-libs in an atmospheric manner. This comforting blanket of vocal layers touches the listener’s soul, body and mind. While the other songs on the album are of also of high quality, these three stand out to me me, especially ‘Higher’, which has since become a required daily listen.
Dami Oniru has been continuously delivering quality music for over four years, and I am sure that just like the lyrics in ‘Higher’, she is “here to stay”. An exciting young R&B act, her music is touching and personal: you don’t just listen to it, you feel it. Be sure to listen to more of her releases because she is dropping some new songs very soon.
Featured image courtesy of Paul Hudson via Flickr.
Article image courtesy of @damioniru_ via Instagram.
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