Naomi Cowan in paradise


Naomi Cowan in paradise

Observer senior reporter

Friday, March 08, 2019

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Naomi Cowan was born into entertainment. Though the daughter of gospel singer Carlene Davis and her impresaio husband Tommy Cowan, she is not content to live off that lineage, but instead wants to build a career for herself in the music business.

On Tuesday, the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) named the singer Breakthrough Artiste of The Year at its annual Honour Awards at the Little Theatre in Kingston.

With today being International Women's Day, Cowan's advice to women, specifically young women who wish to enter the entertainment business, is to develop a strong sense of self.

“I just want to tell that woman out there to be herself. In November of last year, I appeared on Good Day New York on Fox television. When the editor reached out to me he said: 'Hey, Naomi, someone forwarded me your music and we've been looking for a non-slack Caribbean artiste to feature,' I was just blown away by the fact that just being myself is what brought me to that platform. So, if you believe you were put on this Earth for a reason, nobody else can fulfil that purpose. just continue to look at the things that make you you; you can never lose,” she told the Jamaica Observer's Splash.

Having grown up in the industry, Cowan is aware of the perception that female artistes don't get along with each other. However, she is among a new breed of performers trying to change this.

At the recent Bob Marley birthday celebrations in Kingston, Cowan was among the acts paying tribute to the reggae king. She shared the stage with her femme squad -- Lila Ike and Sevana.

“It was extremely important for me. Myself, Lila, Sevanna, and Koffee had shared the stage up at Skyline Levels in December and that was such a magical experience; I have never experienced anything like that. So, when they gave me the time at the Marley celebration I decided that I wanted to bring up some artistes and, to be honest, it was like a no-brainer,” she said. “On top of that, behind the scenes, we are also supportive of each other. It is up to us to break any stigma about the difficulties of being a female, and I have come to realise that we just have to show the unity.”

Her mother remains a central force in her life. Cowan shared that she encourages her to be a stronger writer.

“She always says, 'don't stop writing, make sure you are writing your own stuff, because that is your pension'. She's always encouraging me to do that and to push my voice beyond what I think it can do. Maybe because I have her voice so she knows what it is capable of. But definitely the writing; she knows that I do write, and a lot of times she will hear me with a song and ask, 'whose song is that?' and I have to tell her that I wrote it. She just never, ever wants me to be just a singer, she always has encouraged me to a songwriter,” said Cowan.

Last year was fruitful for the twenty-something artiste. She had two songs on radio — a cover of The Jamaicans' (her father's former group) Things You Say You Love and Paradise Plum. She also performed on several high-profile events, including Reggae Sumfest.

Paradise Plum, produced by Teflon Zinc Fence, was released in May. Featured on a revamped Queen of The Minstrels rhythm, the song topped The Foundation Radio Network (New York) Reggae Chart for several weeks.

“My focus this year is just to be putting out a lot of new music, and a wide variety. I am in studio constantly working on stuff. So an award like this is great and really serves as a motivation for me to keep working, because at the end of the day awards are amazing, and they make you feel good, but your job is really to be a musician,” Cowan said.

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