Biography: Nadia Harris McAnuff.
With a voice that effortlessly transcends Roots Reggae and Jazz, music that brings in Soul and Funk, and lyrical poeticism that stirs the mind and soul – ‘unique’ is a word perhaps best reserved for Nadia Harris McAnuff; an artist whose craft has gone from strength-to-strength in recent years.
This talented individual has been a firm fixture on the Roots Reggae landscape for around two decades. Following in the footsteps of her legendary father Winston while forging her own unique path away from his reputation, McAnuff’s presence in the Roots Reggae community has been building for many years.
Her artistic and cultural experience has been partly shaped by her spiritual one. She has been singing for as long as she can remember, but specifically believes this was from the age of two. Nyabinghi (the spiritual music of the Bobo Shanti Order of Rastafari) was an enduring influence on her from a young age; you can see it now with, for example, the use of drums in her performances:
McAnuff says of her early influences:
“My mom lived on Bobo Hill when I was a child, so drumming and singing was always in the air. But no one taught me how to sing and I was not trained – I simply taught myself which, enhanced this blessing innately given to I by Jah”.
McAnuff honed her craft further when she was older – in and around south Florida, working with producers like Eric Paredes. In the mid-2000s, from here she and Paredes co-founded and are members of Agape feat. Nadia Harris – a fusion collective which hones-in on Soul and Funk; genres that McAnuff also loves.
Agape feat. Nadia Harris’s reputation for live performances precedes it – seeing the band take to the stage throughout Florida, Toronto, New York, Detroit and Rio de Janeiro. The band has collaborated with Francois K, King Britt, Louie Vega, Brazilian Girls, Bugz In The Attic, Thievery Corporation’s Federico Aubele, Seu-Jorge, Jazz artists Medesky, Martin & Wood – and even performed live with Grammy nominated Talib Kweli.
McAnuff co-founded Agape out of her passion for music and culture – something which is an intrinsic part of her being. She says:
“You know there is a saying that goes like this, when your parents forsake you, the Lord shall pick you up. I have had a really rough life, and I have experienced some things that has shaken my trust in humanity.
Music picks me up on all levels: spiritually, and physically. It keeps my organs happy and in tune – not only with nature but the planets above as well. Mentally it soothes my depression, calms my anxiety which leads me to a place where I can be myself without apology”.
Moreover, she already has an extensive solo back catalogue of music under her belt. From the haunting Home Away From Home, to the classic Thompson Sound-imprinted Word Of I Mouth via the moving Words of Wisdom. In April 2022, she released the single Ithiopia – a collaboration with her father Winston. Of course, this is not the first time they have worked together.
McAnuff provided percussion on her father’s band Inna De Yard’s eponymous 2019 album plus backing vocals on the record’s track, Malcom X.
She says of her craft:
“I consider my music to be a breath of fresh air laced with nostalgic melodies and dipped in Roots and Culture on a global level. I’m influenced by my father, Winston McAnuff, Nambo Robinson, Linval Thompson Bob Marley, Nina Simone and Joy White – just to name a few”.
Her most recent full release was an eponymous EP with highly-regarded band The Ligerians – and it was very well-received by critics and fans alike. Journalist Steve Topple, writer for both Pauzeradio and Reggaeville, said of the track Lock Down:
“McAnuff’s performance is perfectly pitched. Her signature style, drawing influences from both Roots and Jazz, is at full power here. She’s taken the rhythmic sensibilities of singjay and merged them with the delivery of Jazz – meaning that her vocal is fluid and constantly moving, but with a smoky and effortless air which is highly engaging as a listener. McAnuff runs up and down her register with ease; there’s particular singjay-style attention to rhythmic detail on the verses and on the choruses she employs a delicate yet haunting delivery”.
Then, her live performances are also a thing of beauty. McAnuff has the grace and fluidity of a Soul singer: her smooth, balanced physical interpretation of the music seamlessly marrying with what she is singing and the compositions that accompany it. She has a natural rapport with the audience and is an engaging and enigmatic performer. McAnuff played Rebel Salute in 2016 to great acclaim, and continues to be an enduring live artist, sure to please the crowd:
But central to McAnuff’s worldview with her artistry is what her music can achieve. She says:
“My wish is that it inspires people to remember who they are, and to be the change they seek to find from within first. They will take from it what they may. But this is my heart’s desire”.
Nadia Harris McAnuff is the consummate Roots Reggae artist. She is remarkable in terms of combining the classic sensibilities of the genres that have influenced her, all while remaining fresh and relevant. McAnuff is an artist who will continue to grow – and the world will surely be watching.
Nadia Harris McAnuff Biography written by Mr Topple from Pauzeradio PR Services (21st July 2022).