Ruby Ninah is a talented musician with an amazing voice that has been described by the legendary Kanjii Mbugua as one of the best he’s had on his Acoustic Duets show. She is a gifted Jazz/RnB soul singer whose passion for life comes across clearly in her musical performances. Ruby realized there was something special about her voice in primary school where her classmates endlessly begged her to perform for them. She has been singing since to the delight of ever bigger audiences.
Her music style is ethereal, soulful, and full of pathos (emotion). Among her main influences and favourites are Mariah Carey, Boyz 2 Men, Swv, Frank Sinatra, Sade, Fred Hammond, P. Morton, and Yebba. She has over a decade of experience in the music industry, doing it all from performing covers to most recently writing her own music.
The early years of Ruby’s career were spent performing covers as she honed her performing skills. She hands down does the most moving cover of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song that I have ever heard. Unfortunately, that was a live performance, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Her courageous move to write and perform her own music is off to a great start. Her latest singles are Samehewa and Mpenzi wa Kwanza. She is currently working on an EP called the Road to Freedom. She’s performed with the Kanjii Mbugua, Elvis Who, Joe the Singer, and Kevin Motema. She is ambitious, with big dreams, and looks forward to many more collaborations with local and international musicians.
Here’s the amazing, sensational Ruby Ninah in her own words.
How do you describe your music style?
I would describe my music style as ethereal, soulful, and full of pathos which is to say emotion. I have been making music professionally for 11 years. I have built my career mainly doing covers of other people’s songs but lately, I’ve been building my own songs which are getting good reception. I am grateful.
11 years is a lot, it’s significant. What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome so far and what keeps you motivated in the face of that?
The biggest hurdle so far is an industry that is not too supportive of alternative music. This means it takes a lot more time, work and money out of your own pocket to make music and build a fanbase. The tides are changing though, and more and more barriers are being broken making room for alternative music.
If you could change anything in the industry, what would it be?
Gatekeepers. I would change the gatekeepers. Every industry has gatekeepers, usually the industry pioneers who then end up with disproportionate sway on the workings of the industry.
Talk to me about your creative process and the personal projects you’ve worked on that you are especially proud of.
My process is not complicated. Melodies and songs come to me in all kinds of different places and at different times. Sometimes in the shower, other times at the bus stop, sometimes when I’m walking down the stairs… everywhere really. My thing is to make sure I have my phone with me so that I can record it and work on it later.
Of all the many, many projects I’ve worked on, the most memorable would have to be coming up with jingles for different companies. Singing at different events like the launch of bitcoin by Belfrics comes pretty close as well. Another great one was a private dinner party in Rosslyn. It was just vibes on vibes on vibes.
Having people share with you how your singing has changed their perspective on a thing or two is exceptionally special. It reminds me of my purpose.
What do you think you would be doing now if you weren’t making music?
Never quite imagined not making music. Perhaps I would be a community development expert which is what I studied in school. Maybe a PR marketer as well. I am honestly brilliant at salvaging situations and making people fall in love with a product or service. Or maybe a clown because life without me in music would be super funny to even imagine.
What has this 11-year journey taught you?
I have learnt that my journey is exactly that, MY JOURNEY. I used to get so worked up seeing other people shine. I have learnt to follow my gut and stick to my lane. I used to want to alter things based on the advice of well-meaning friends especially when they’d advise me to go “commercial”. I have since learnt to trust my instinct, reminded that I follow a river and it leads me where I’m meant to be.
I did not know that I needed to trust my manufacturer (GOD) with my gift. I now no longer feel the pressure to be anything other than what I was created to be.
Who have you collaborated with so far and what was that like?
I have worked with the amazing vocalist, Joe the Singer, the brilliant keyboardist, Levie Solonka and Hendrick Kyama, an excellent producer. Collaborating is humbling because you must allow other people to express their sound within their brand. It means consciously not trying to make them sound how you want them to sound.
What’s your ultimate goal with your career?
I want to be the king’s musician. I want to impact those I am meant to impact and change the world one song at a time.
What are you currently working on? What’s next for and from Ruby Ninah?
I’m currently working on a project called Full Circle, a love story told in three songs. Two are already out on all digital streaming platforms and I will be releasing the last one soon. I’m also working on releasing two other songs off of my upcoming EP (extended play record) called The road to freedom.
Busy busy, huh? All the best with that, Ruby, and I can’t wait to hear it and even more from you.
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