Grammy-nominated, Ethiopian-born singer/songwriter/producer Wayna is here to shine the light on her beloved country from a perspective that we are not used to seeing. In the video for her new reggae-tinged single “Amazing,” Wayna takes to the streets of Addis Ababa to give us a glimpse of the bustling capital that’s rich with history and serves as the resting place of Emperor Haile Selassie.
While on a three-month residency in Ethiopia, Wayna (who now lives in Washington, D.C.) decided that Addis would be the best place to visually represent everything she wanted to convey about the single. “I thought this is the perfect backdrop because the city is so gorgeous and there’s so much development, so much life pumping through the streets that I just wanted to capture it and tell the story of the people that I saw living and thriving there,” she said.
With Western culture’s rising obsession with everything African-inspired, Wayna’s Sex and the City depiction of a day in the life of a professional couple is a welcome sight of authenticity. She decided to go that route after “seeing the large amount of diaspora that was moving back to Ethiopia and bringing everything that they learned and gained including their new outlooks and Westernized ways of doing things, back to their home country and building up their home city. it seemed like it was the best of both worlds.”
And speaking of the best of both worlds, Wayna has been pretty busy lately both in Ethiopia and in North America. Since 2015, she has been on tour with the incomparable Stevie Wonder as one of his background singers during the Songs in the Key of Life Tour. “I think I’ve had moments where because he’s so generous and humble and kind, that you tend to forget that he’s Stevie Wonder," she said. "He’s so immediately disarming that whatever you walk in there feeling, it kind of melts away after a few minutes because he makes you feel that way.”
From the tour, Wayna has seen Wonder's genius firsthand, witnessing him arrange and compose pieces on the spot. “When I see him do those amazing feats of musical brilliance, it’s always an honor to just be in the presence of that. But I think the best part about it is just how he empowers everybody around him. He’s a natural born leader.”
Wayna will continue to tour with Stevie Wonder and should have more new music coming our way soon.