Nelly’s Echo, a band that prides itself on telling stories with melodies, will perform a professional Cat Cab on March 17 in the Fred Meyer Lounge.
Frontman singer-songwriter Nelson Emokpae uses a blend of soulful styles to bind stories together melodically.
Emokpae said that music is a valuable medium for storytelling because of the emotional power it holds for listeners.
“The beautiful thing about melody is that it makes it easier to put the stress of life into words,” Emokpae said. “The message has a deeper connection because of the melody behind it.”
Emokpae said the name for his band was inspired by audience reactions to the musical stories he performed.
“Music is a two-way street,” he said. “Nelly’s Echo stands for Nelly, who is a performer, and his audience, who make an echo as a response to the performance.”
Emokpae said that his sound, a mix of blues, reggae, jazz, and soul, has evolved over time, but that the base of his identity as a musician has remained the same since his early years in Nigeria.
“In Nigeria, as a kid, I was always walking around humming tunes and playing beats on the table,” Emokpae said. “I still hear the same melodies and beats in my head today.”
Emokpae said that he grew up singing in choirs and church events but that he was a physical therapist until his musical career turned into a full-time pursuit last spring, when he toured 60 colleges in six months.
Emokpae said that he enjoys performing for college students because of their impressionability.
“The cool thing about college students is that they haven’t made up their minds about life yet,” he said. “They’re still open to new ideas, so if I can spread the positive messages of hope, love and peace, then I’ve done my job.”
Emokpae released his first E.P. in 2007, “Live, Love and Laugh,” which Emokpae said was a learning experience.
“It allowed me to learn where I stood in the music world, but I made a lot of mistakes that I rectified in the second album,” he said.
Emokpae said that his second album, “Secrets of a Happy Life,” stemmed mostly from his journal entries.
“I’ve always written in journals because I can refer back to them and follow the train of thought I had about an emotion or experience I was having,” he said.
Emokpae explained that strong feelings drive his music.
“After a powerful reaction to something, I think of a melody, and then try to tie words to that melody,” he said.
Emokpae said he plans to release a new album titled “Victoria’s Secret.” It will be centered on the struggles women face in today’s culture.
“Victoria’s Secret tells a woman that she has to dress a certain way, act a certain way and interact with people a certain way,” Emokpae said. “This album deals with these pressures from a woman’s perspective.”
He said that his former relationships and female friends contributed to the ideas and experiences that shaped the songs.
“Life is too short for the rubbish we dish out and take,” Emokpae said. “One way to help soften the blow is to make good music as a soundtrack to life. That’s what I hope to do.”
Joanna Peterson/Culture editor
Joanna Peterson can be reached at email@example.com.