Spotlight Sessions with Chinwe Anumba (COAH Music)

Think Alex Isley with a mix of Solange Knowles, a touch of Erykah Badu and sprinkling of Lauryn Hill and you have COAH. An up and rising musical talent, Chinwe is another creative spark to watch out for. Chinwe and I met back in October 2016 through an Instagram story funnily enough! After sparking off conversation in the DMs, we scribbled a date in our diaries to meet up at our local Nandos near University and hit off since then. I highly recommend that you check out her craft - talent in it's finest. (my personal fave is Buttercup!)

Here's the Spotlight on Chinwe Anumba...

1 | Tell me a bit about yourself: your background, education, age etc.

My name is Chinwe, but as an artist I go by the name COAH (my initials are C.O.A and the H is because I’m an even number kinda girl). I was born in Newcastle but I moved to Sheffield when I was 4, so I pretty much spent most of my life there. I went to an all girls school all my life, all the way from reception to sixth form. I know there’s a lot of preconceptions about all girls private schools but it was actually very chilled. Now I’m studying Pharmacy at King’s College London. 

2 | On your Soundcloud bio, you describe yourself as a guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer and poet. How have you been able to develop those avenues and how long has it taken you?

I started playing classical piano when I was 6 so you’d think I’d be amazing by now, but I’m really not because I never practiced - my parents forced me to have lessons because neither of them ever played an instrument. So this was really my introduction to music and where I learned how to read music. Later on they let me stop having piano lessons and I switched to guitar which I loved so much more.

I started writing songs when I was 8, writing originals and doing my own renditions of popular songs in the charts at the time (I remember I did one fire remix of Me And You by Cassie). It’s funny because I wrote songs pretty often but I didn’t even enjoy singing that much. I started singing in our church choir when I was about 11, only because my friends did, but I this is where I learned how to sing and started enjoying it more.

As for producing, I used to make tracks on my Sony Ericsson back in the day and I really thought they were pure fire. Then I remember my Dad got an iPad and I discovered GarageBand, so I started playing around with that and from there just continued. I really have no idea what I’m doing technically but for me it’s a case of trying to draw out what I hear in my head.

I see poetry as lyrics without a melody, so it never felt that foreign to me. I have a real appreciation for poetry, it’s such a freeing and cathartic process. For me personally, I think it has helped me so much with my writing - a lot of my recent songs are based on poems I’ve written, either conceptually or using words and phrases from it. Plus, I think the more you write, the better you get at articulating your thoughts and feelings, which is so key.

As you can see, a lot of the things I’m doing now, I started doing by accident and with no real intention and yet those early days established such a strong foundation for me. Many people would probably call it coincidence but things lined up tooo perfectly, I have to believe it was God orchestrated. Either way, I try to maintain a student mentality and commit to improving in all those areas.

3 | Complete the sentence: Music and creativity is important to me because…

It has given me purpose.

4 | Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

That’s a good question, I wish I knew the answer to that! I don’t even have any concrete plans to be honest. There are definitely some things I would like to do in the near future: release a couple of albums, do some headline shows, some festivals, perform in other countries is a biggie!! But, I don’t have many time-scales on those things. I tend to take it year by year because my brain can’t handle much - I don’t even know what I’m doing next weekend.

5 | Top tips for anyone hoping to get into the music space?

My advice would be to think of yourself as a product and find your unique selling point. What is that one thing that sets you apart from others in your field? Listening to other people’s feedback can help you find out what this is if you don’t know. Note down the common positive things people say about you when you perform. Focus on that thing. So for me, I don’t have a big voice, my voice is very soft - I can’t really belt and sing big songs, so for a long time that made me feel insecure in certain situations. But whenever I would perform, people would comment on my tone, so I chose to focus on showcasing that aspect. So if I did a gig with someone with a big voice, I don’t feel like I have to compete with them, I’m focused on what I’m good at, if that makes sense. This is so key because there are so many people trying to make it in the music industry; you have to know what sets you apart so comparison won’t cripple you in your journey.

I would also stress that character is super important. Be somebody that people want to work with. Treat everyone you meet with respect and love. Make genuine connections with people. Lots of people in the creative world have an agenda, only concerned about what they can get out of others, so being a genuine and friendly person is a breath of fresh air. It’s all about who you know so position yourself around people who are doing what you want to be doing and learn from and collaborate with them. Also, encourage other creatives. I’m definitely a believer that those who build up others will be built up themselves!

Off the back of that, I would say create a good reputation for yourself. Be humble and professional in every setting you find yourself in - word honestly spreads like wildfire, I can’t stress this enough. You wanna make sure people can only say good things when your name is brought up. 

Lastly I would say look after yourself!! As a creative you are in charge of your progress - it’s on you to motivate yourself and work on your craft. Make time for to develop your gift but also make time to make sure you’re okay. I know for me, I do the least musically when I’m not taking care of myself or monitoring my thought processes. Try not to get caught up in focusing on how far you have to go and remind yourself how far you’ve come. Assess what steps you took to get to where you are, then you can work out how to move to the next level.

Fire Question Round

 TV show or movie you refuse to watch?
Game of Thrones

What’s the best single day on the calendar?

Last track you listened to?
Losing - H.E.R

Two things that have impressed you this week
1. I’m impressed at the amount of water I drink a day now that I have a brand spanking new water bottle

2. Eliza Doolittle is making music again and it’s actually really good - she can really sing.

Title of the current chapter of your life?
You Thought You Were Busy Before?

Want to continue following the Spotlight on Chinwe?
COAH Spotify
COAH Soundcloud
COAH Facebook
Chinwe's Instagram
Chinwe's Twitter

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