Woman of the Week: Terra Naomi

The first time I heard Terra Naomi’s stunning soprano voice, I felt like I’d been transported back to a time in history where the biggest stars of the show were the songs themselves. The audience’s noisy chatter quieted at once as she took the stage. It was immediately obvious that she was a masterful singer, and her songs – raw, intimate, and intense – had that magical way of revealing her personal journey, while also speaking to a much larger universal understanding of what it means to be human.

 

As a music lover and a beginner singer and songwriter myself, I was mesmerized by Terra’s haunting performance and ability to connect so authentically with the audience. I thought, “Wow… this woman is our generation’s Joni Mitchell.”

 

Terra’s passion for developing other musicians made it possible for me to become one of two students she mentors. In our songwriting sessions, I got to experience what a skilled, patient, and encouraging teacher she is who truly understands the complex language of music, and learned of the journey she’s traveled to become the exceptional woman she is- which is a Tale of Ordinary Magic in itself.

 

En route to a yoga retreat in June 2006, reading an article about Youtube in Rolling Stone Magazine, Terra thought, “It would be really great if the founders of YouTube highlighted my music on the home page of YouTube.”

 

Lo and behold, several hours later, while pitching her tent atop a New Mexico mountain, Terra received a text from her friend that her MySpace page was blowing up. Turns out, a video she’d posted for “Say It’s Possible” (inspired by the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”) was featured on the home page of a little site called, YouTube.

 

Terra’s YouTube feature garnered millions of new fans; she inked a deal with Universal Publishing and Island Records, and performed at “Live Earth” (Wembley Stadium). She went on to complete North American, European, South African and Indian tours, and performed with Martha Wainwright, Sara Bareilles, and Natasha Bedingfield and placed her music in dozens of films and television shows.

 

Following industry exec advice, she allowed the producer to mold her organic voice and songs into a more mainstream pop album, which did not resonate with the fans who first discovered her. The authentic beauty of her stripped down sound was eclipsed by the “production” of pop music.

 

So just as Terra’s career was poised to take off, she learned life doesn’t happen exactly how we want it to; it unfolds for us so we can grow and expand our consciousness, and ultimately come into better understanding of ourselves.

 

And while her foray into pop music added some extra bumps to an already curvy road, the twists and turns allowed her to know the depth of her strength, the meaning of artistic integrity, and most importantly, there is no voice, opinion, or advice more important than your own inner wisdom.

 

The outcome- a soon to be released album of the most soulful and intricate songs she’s ever written. Yes, the girl who could sing before she could talk discovered there is no limit, when you find the courage to simply be yourself. Now that’s WOW!

 

 

terra_press_photo_fall_2012_rev_4Name: Terra Naomi

Occupation: Singer & Songwriter

Hometown: Upstate New York

Current city of residence: Venice, CA

Contact email: terranaomi@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

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Ordinary Magic: If you were at a cocktail party and were asked to explain what you do in three sentences or less, what would you say?

Terra Naomi: My career involves singing and writing songs, recording music for albums, films and TV shows, and playing shows for audiences in various parts of the world. I also spend a lot of time practicing Kundalini yoga and meditation, pursuing optimal spiritual/physical health, encouraging myself to be stronger in all ways, with activities like Crossfit, and helping the people I love with their own goals, through teaching, mentoring, and cooking for them (I only cook for my brother and our friend Bill – but you can ask me about that another time)!

 

Ordinary Magic: What inspired you to head in that direction?

Terra Naomi: Singing and songwriting was always part of my life, from the time I was a very young child. I don’t remember asking myself what I wanted to do, career-wise – I simply always knew that I was and would be a singer and a songwriter. The other stuff…..that mess of amazing passions…life circumstances led me to those things; a genuine curiosity and interest in constantly learning and growing and becoming the most true version of myself.

 

Ordinary Magic: What are you most proud of?

Terra Naomi: Certain career highlights, like the time I was invited by Al Gore to play Live Earth at Wembley Stadium. I was the only unknown artist on the bill, and the other artists _MG_9835awere people like Madonna, The Foo Fighters, Metallica, Black Eyed Peas…or when I played the first-ever concert of Western music in Kashmir…I’ve experienced some incredible moments. But I’m more proud for refusing to give up on myself during the challenging times. Resilience and grit. Those are the things I’m most proud of, and most grateful for.

 

Ordinary Magic: What has the biggest turning point been in your life so far?

Terra Naomi: It was this period of the last few years. I walked away from a major label record and publishing deal, and moved back to LA from London. A few months later, my family experienced a massive financial crisis, and my father experienced a resulting health crisis. Every bit of security I thought I had in the physical world suddenly disappeared – career, financial, family — and I had to learn where real security comes from. I was faced with two options – to crumble, or to grow. I chose to grow.

 

Ordinary Magic: What is your greatest passion?

Terra Naomi: Connecting with people through the language of music and song.

 

Ordinary Magic: What words of wisdom would you give your twenty-year old self?Terra Naomi photo (by Chelsey Croucher)

Terra Naomi: Oh man – my twenty-year old self was such a mess!!! First I would have encouraged her to get off drugs hahaha but that happened later. 😉 I don’t even know what I would say…it’s impossible to truly understand things until we experience them directly. I could tell her about the value of every moment, but I don’t think she would have understood. I could tell her to ditch the self-hatred and criticism, the constant competitiveness and comparing herself to others, the jealousy and neediness…. Wow. There are so many things. I was definitely not ready for the truth at twenty.  So maybe I would just tell my twenty-year old self that in a few years life would be very different, so try to be fully present in the experience of life, at that time. (And she would have told me to get lost.)

 

Ordinary Magic: What was the last book you read?

Terra Naomi: I want to say something that makes me sound cool, but it was a book on the Paleo diet…

 

Ordinary Magic: What is your definition of happiness?

Terra Naomi: A feeling of joy and excitement in my heart that is not linked to any external circumstances, events, or achievements.

 

Ordinary Magic: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Terra Naomi: To stop taking life so seriously.

 

Ordinary Magic: If you could be anywhere in the world right now doing anything, what would it be?

Terra Naomi: I’m happy to be here, answering your questions. I would also like to be on a stage, in a beautiful theater, playing my music for a warm, attentive audience, anywhere in the world.

 

Ordinary Magic: What do you have gratitude for in this moment?

Terra Naomi: Here’s a quick list, without thinking:Terra Naomi Hotel Cafe Feb 8

  •  My family
  •  My friends
  •  My dog, Elliott
  •  Resilience
  •  Gratitude (yes, gratitude for the ability to feel grateful — I don’t take it for granted cos I wasn’t always this way!)
  •  Willingness
  •  My voice
  •  My songwriting ability
  •  Work ethic and tenacity
  • Compassion for myself and others
  • The ocean
  • Shelter, food, basic needs met
  • The support of my family, friends, and fans
  • Crossfit
  • Adaptability

 

Tons of other things, too, but that’s what came to mind, in this moment.

 

Ordinary Magic: Do you have a Life Motto?

Terra Naomi: No. But today I was thinking about the huge difference between surviving and living. I want to live. So maybe that’s my new motto.

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