Not too many artists are multitalented. Is it really possible to be a terrific singer, skillful rhymer, clever songwriter, and stage performance guru? Toss in not being a bad dancer, and you have one unbeatable package: Naomi Achu.
Hailing from the beautiful hilly town of Bamenda, Cameroon, Naomi is the last of six children in a Christian family. Her Baforchu father is a now-retired diplomat to the Cameroonian Embassy in London, and her Awing mother is an educator of primary and secondary school children.
Naomi’s career started very early. She wrote her first song when she was nine, and she sang gospel songs a cappella as a high school student at Saker Baptist College in Limbe, Cameroon. Naomi became music prefect shortly after moving to Baptist High School in Buea, meaning that she was responsible for leading the school choir. Eventually Naomi began singing back-up vocals for recording artists at M1 Studio in Buea. It was through this gig that she landed another one: as the automated voice for MTN Cameroon.
During this time, Naomi continued to hone her songwriting skills. Moving from Cameroon to the United States, Naomi crafted her first record in 2009: a four-track EP called No Boundaries. Showcasing her singing and rapping skills, No Boundaries immensely raised her profile. Naomi soon found herself swamped with offers from artists from all over the world requesting a contribution to their tracks.
It only got better from there. In 2011 Naomi released her follow-up, Positive Energy. A 12-track album Naomi released under the Tribal Invazion label she founded, Positive Energy received rave reviews from listeners for its diverse sound and topics. It was anchored by “Alhadji,” a breakthrough hit that concerns deceiving naive men of wealth. Supported by its choral refrain–”I go take your money go!”–”Alhadji” quickly became Naomi’s signature song. It was so successful that it was later played in the eighth season of Big Brother Africa. Also, “Alhadji” scored Naomi a Best Blues/Pop award nomination by the World Music & Independent Film Festival, and its video held the number one spot on Afrotainment Channel’s Top 10 program for several weeks.
Positive Energy has other notable songs. There’s “Cadavere,” which is about a relationship gone bad. There’s “Skin Tight Jeans,” which is a tribute to looking great in the club. And there’s “Suffer Don Finish,” a massive, unrelenting jam African-style with hyped-up ad-libs from Congolese maestro Awilo Longomba.
With Positive Energy, more people took notice of Naomi Achu. In addition to substantial airplay on international radio and television stations, she opened for high-profile African acts like Fally Ipupa from DR Congo and Timaya from Nigeria. Naomi closed out the year with a Best Female Artist award at the Cameroon Urban Music Awards and a spot on the Top 10 Most Beautiful Cameroonian Celebrities 2011 list at TheRichest.org.
The next year, Naomi reached an important landmark. On July 28, 2012, she won the Best Female Artist award at the Cameroon Entertainment Awards, the first of its kind for her homeland.
With a third album on the way in 2014, Naomi has continued to sharpen her skill set, demonstrating growth with each song release she uses to whet her fans’ appetite. “Wa Fun Mi Shuga,” a sensually kinetic song produced by Cheffy, reveals Naomi’s continued linguistic expansion to Yoruba. And “It’s My Life,” a rumbling jam from acclaimed Nigerian producer Samklef and engineered by Walta Blackson, presents the Cameroonian star with an edge, blasting away enemies of progress with her daggers of wit.
Naomi draws inspiration from artists from a vast array of genres. They include Angelique Kidjo, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson, Mary Mary, Makoma, Mary J. Blige, Kirk Franklin, Lauryn Hill, and Erykah Badu. With a massive amount of talent and drive that is rarely matched, the best is yet to come for the self-styled “Queen of Bamenda.”