We had the good fortune of connecting with Naimah Muhammad and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Naimah, how does your business help the community?
Music has always played an important role in voicing the present, imagining the future, and remembering the past. Some of my favorite musicians are those who’ve had a lasting impact on society, and I feel a responsibility to create music that is relevant and positive. Most recently, while in the COVID-19 lockdown this fall/winter, I had the opportunity to connect with two other female songwriters on Zoom – two women I’d never met before, but shared a similar interest in creating no matter what. Together we wrote a song called “Born To Be A Fighter” inspired by the need for our own reminder to keep pushing despite the present challenges, but also to take a moment to give back this message to every listener in need of a lift. During Black History Month I released the song alongside a campaign highlighting fearless and inspiration Black women throughout time – including whom some might call “lesser known names”. To push things further, I spent long nights staying up working on a lyric video in honor of Women’s History Month highlighting some of the fearless, trailblazing women whose accomplishments have led the way for change, and who have become an integral thread in our culture and society. The video ranges across backgrounds, affiliations, industries, ages, ages, and time. These are women who were truly “born to be a fighter” and are a reminder to each of us that we play an important role, and also have to take the time to honor those before us. In just 2 days the video surpassed 2.5k views, and is already being implemented in schools along with the question “how many of these women can you name?” I love that. I think every woman and girl will be able to see someone like them in the lyric video – which is rare. My work is, and will always be, more than just for me – I hope every bit of time I spend creating and putting energy out in the world will be of benefit and last longer than I will.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Reusing my previous answer from the previous Voyage LA piece:
Music has been a part of my life literally since the beginning. I remember playing my toy guitar at four years old until the strings popped off (and even then, continued to play it until I was forced to throw it away); I remember playing Donna Lewis’ “I Love You Always Forever” on my cassette-player to and from kindergarten; I remember making my mom and any guests she had over sit in the living room and listen to me sing “My Heart Will Go On”; I remember listening to Elliott Smith’s “Between the Bars” in 8th grade and deciding in that moment that I wanted to be a songwriter no matter what. I’ve stuck to it ever since.
The pivotal moment that propelled me from music as a hobby to a career was in 2013, after just graduating from USC, when Billboard’s editorial director at the time, Bill Werde, selected the song I had just released, Wolf and I, in a twitter contest online. Honestly, I didn’t even know this contest was going on at the time, but I have a friend to thank for being in the loop and sharing my song with him. After that came the press, performances, songwriting, and recording opportunities. And, with a team of only me and my mom, it was a quick learning curve on how to be your own everything.
It was just enough of a push to get me going on the path I’m building upon today. After some time away from LA to pursue music on the east coast—where, among many highlights, my songwriting team wrote a winning song in the 2016 International Songwriting Competition, and I was an invited guest at President Obama’s Iftar dinner at the White House due to my community outreach and leadership as a musician—I’m back in Los Angeles, where I’ve been based for the last two years. In addition to working with developing artists, I work with songwriting/production teams virtually while in the pandemic, and it’s opened up incredible opportunities for new connections and new material.
The journey has been the result of me and my mom pushing forward as a two-woman team trying to make this happen in my life. Along the way I’ve built relationships, mentors, and learned from everyone I’ve come into contact with. I’m grateful to see the work and consistency pay off to illuminate opportunities everyday, no matter how small or how big.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh! Where to begin?! I love food – like LOVE food, so let’s see: Sugarfish and Blue Ribbon Sushi at the Grove are my favorites for sushi; Village Pizzeria on Larchmont for the best NY-style pizza I look forward to; Osteria La Bucca (they are amazing, and the staff is like family!) and Jon & Vinny’s for Italian, and L’antica Pizzeria da Michele for Italian dining at the restaurant for a cute date. Also, super yummy smoothies at the Punch Bowl in Los Feliz. For activities, you can never go wrong with a hike or a trip to Malibu, but honestly I’m looking forward to the day Universal Studios opens up again – that place on a weekday when the lines are short never gets old.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Abby Posner: firstname.lastname@example.org