Navasha Daya: Rebirthed Above Ground

Photos courtesy of Aisha Butler of Jazzy Studios

Navasha Daya is reborn in every sense of the word. That’s why this local songstress chose to title her newest creation–her first solo album–Rebirthed Above Ground. “Your expression as an artist is dictated by where you are in your development. I’ve developed in a new way,” says Daya. “I feel liberated, being free of controlling energy that stifled my creative growth and confidence as a woman.”

For those unfamiliar with Daya, it is important to know her roots and musical background in order to understand the significance behind these words. Formerly the lead singer and co-founder of the legendary Baltimore soul-meets-funk group Fertile Ground, Daya parted ways with the band several years ago. “[There were] creative differences,” she explains. The tough decision to split from the group was made more challenging by her divorce from Fertile Ground’s James Collins. Needless to say, Daya has come a long way in the past few years. Her rebirth is a burst of creative expression alongside a personal and spiritual triumph. And that energy simply pours out through her music.

Photos courtesy of Aisha Butler of Jazzy Studios

Originally from Cleveland, Daya’s Rebirthed oozes funk akin to the stylings of fellow Ohio natives and funk legends The Ohio Players. Jazz, soul and rock ‘n roll influences from Daya’s childhood shine through, as well, fusing into a sound that is unique to the singer’s story. “That deep, deep genetic influence of my grandfather singing the blues, my dad singing bluesy-gospels at home…[my music] is a fusion of all those sounds,” explains Daya.

In a notable shift from her Fertile Ground days, Daya has fully embraced her skills as a songwriter and producer; she wrote, produced and arranged the entire album herself. Rebirthed was also recorded with total live instrumentation–a stark contrast from Fertile Ground’s methods. But, Daya explains, these changes are “an extension and a natural progression [from Fertile Ground].” While she certainly contributed to songs in the past, including writing the group’s hit single “Peace and Love,” this is the first time Daya has truly explored her capabilities as a musician, producer and businesswoman. “Although I like what I did before, I like what I’m singing now,” remarks Daya.

So far, public response has been phenomenal. “People didn’t really know I was a producer or a songwriter…People thought I was just a front-woman, so fans are getting a taste of that,” says Daya. The singer’s enthusiasm is evident when speaking about performing her new material. She describes a “spark” in the room, felt by both herself and her listeners. It’s obvious that—for the first time—Daya is fueling her deepest, purest passion into her songs. She is reborn as a musician and as a woman. “There’s a lot of power in being a woman, no matter what your orientation is,” explains Daya. “[Music] is a very sexist industry. A lot of men underestimate women in our musical ability and in our ability to do business…People should not dictate what you do as an artist.”

In addition to her blossoming solo career, Navasha Daya is doing tremendous things in the Baltimore region—her mainstay since her days as a student at Morgan State University. Her work mainly focuses on the next generation of creative minds: Baltimore’s youth. Through the Baltimore City Youth Resiliency Institute, a non-profit organization founded by Daya and her husband, Fanon Hill,  she works diligently with local children and families to build a stronger Baltimore City by means of “a creative arts-based Rites of Passage cultural process.” In addition, Daya works with children as a private voice coach and, formerly, as a music teacher.

One of her newer projects, the Youth Arts Harvest Festival, kicked off last summer without a hitch. This music festival brought together dozens of youth ages six to 23 in “an international jam.” For Daya, bringing together people from all walks of life, races, ages and orientations through the power of music is what evolving is all about—and Baltimore is the perfect stage. “There’s a really nice, bubbling arts scene,” says Daya. “There’s a vibrant assortment of different genres here.”

Photos courtesy of Aisha Butler of JazzyStudios

Whether it’s appearing at one of a number of Baltimore’s free festivals, performing at a local venue or working on new material for her faithful fan base, be sure to keep an eye on Navasha Daya and her musical journey. You never know where she might take you next.

Click here to listen or purchase to Rebirthed Above Ground!

For the latest on upcoming performances, be sure to visit Daya’s Facebook or Twitter pages for more information.