ListN Up Playlist: Odeya Nini (February 8, 2024)

ListN Up is a series of artist-curated playlists that offer an intimate sonic portrait of contemporary artists by showcasing the diverse and stylistically varied music that influences their creative practice.

Odeya Nini is a Los Angeles-based interdisciplinary vocalist and composer. Her solo vocal work extends the dimension and expression of the voice and body, creating a sonic and physical panorama of silence to noise and tenderness to grandeur. She is a member of Wild Up and the founder of Free The Voice. She also leads vocal sound meditations, workshops, and retreats exploring the transformative and healing qualities of embodying the voice.

Hello! My name is Odeya Nini, and I am an interdisciplinary vocalist and composer. I will be sharing music by friends and artists I admire. Some of the music accompanies me daily, some of these pieces belong to a time in my life where I was discovering my artistic voice, and some are songs that have brought me solace over the last few turbulent months. The human voice is central, as I find it the most compelling of instruments, but all these tracks are deeply transformative to me. I hope that you enjoy!

“Essence Universe” by Laraaji

This album has played on repeat in my home for years. I gave birth to my daughter listening to this album on repeat. It truly feels like infinite space to me. Enjoy the expansion!

“Silently Beneath the Waves” by Chris Dingman

I have gotten to know Chris over the last two years, and his spirit so full of heart. I was moved when I learned that he recorded hours of music based on his improvisations for his father while he was in hospice. His vibraphone sounds transport me again and again.

“Sankofa” by Cassandra Wilson

This song has been with me since I was a teenager and I first heard Cassandra Wilson. I was in complete awe of her range, as she sings all three voices. The concept of Sankofa and the meaning of the symbol is also very beautiful (I encourage you to learn more about it!)

“Late Green” by Theo Bleckmann and Ben Monder

Theo Bleckmann’s voice changed the way I would think about voice and improvisation forever. I was lucky enough to study with him in college after hearing this work, and now call him a friend. The pairing of Ben Monder’s incredible and versatile sound on the guitar plus Theo’s vocals yields pure magic.

“Night Birds” by Sainkho Namtchylak

This recording was introduced to me at the New School by Gerry Hemmingway, a very influential drummer and teacher. I was opening up to the free improvisation world but trying to find my voice. When I heard Sainkho’s voice, the sound of animals, nature, so unidiomatic, so embodied, I knew I could find my own voice if I only listened.

“All Related” by Nessi Gomes

The next few tracks will be a shift that speak to a voice that resonates with me these days. The lyrics of these songs speak to connection with something greater; it calls to listen deeply and calls to reflect. Considering the devastatingly painful time in the world over the last few months, especially being a Jewish woman with roots in Israel, these songs have brought me solace. Nessi Gomes is a powerful vocalist with music that is medicine, often performed in settings where people are present in a way where they are open to energetic shifts.

“All Our Departed (El Malei Rachamim)” by Daniela Gesundheit

Daniela is a beautiful singer-songwriter, cantor, whale song expert, and a dear friend of mine. In this album, Alphabet of Wrongdoing, she reimagines text from the Jewish day of atonement (Yom Kippur). These words are a prayer for the departed sung as a haunting chant. The title translates to “god full of compassion,” a much-needed reminder to hold the highest compassion for All.

“Ode” by Odeya Nini

I wanted to share my own song here. This is a Yemenite song my late grandmother taught me. As I sing this song, I feel a deep connection with my Middle Eastern ancestral roots, and to a way of vocalizing that is dynamic, visceral, and meant to ascend.

“Calling (Kol)” by Sophia Tuv

I will leave you with this song which I find so so incredibly beautiful. The Hebrew word for voice is kol, and that same sounding word (different spelling) also means “everything.” This song is a call of the voice, a call to everything, a reminder to us all. The lyrics translate to: “The Voice is calling me to return home, to the river that flows within me. Everything passes, even the fear passes, only Love remains forever.”


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