Gospel music has always been a crucial part of the Black community and culture. During tough times, people use it as a tool to uplift and inspire. During the good times, people use it as a tool to celebrate and rejoice.
So, it only made sense that we’d ask Naomi Raine, one of the most talented gospel singers in the game right now, to headline the upcoming Root 100 Celebration at the Apollo Theater on December 8, 2022.
Raine’s ambition to be an entertainer is, literally, in her blood. Born in New York City to Lawrence and Marissa Felder, both of Raine’s parents were great gospel singers in their own right, and passed that gift down to their daughter. Even her grandfather performed in Broadway musicals like A Chorus Line for years. But, despite growing up around music, Raine never felt any pressure to pursue a career in music; it was just something she naturally fell in love with.
“I just have always been around it [music]” said Raine. “I sang my first concert when I was two, sang a solo and it was because I wanted to. My brother grew up around the same thing and he didn’t want to; it’s not something he desired.”
When Raine decided it was her time to pursue a career in music, she wanted to explore things on her own and strayed away from taking too much advice from her family. “My parents let me forge my own path, go at it alone,” said Raine. “That sounds bad, but they just let me discover where I should go next. Where they give me advice is more on the spiritual side. They pray for me, they make sure I’m covered spiritually, and they also give me advice on how to balance work, family and home life.”
Raine believes that her relationship with music heavily influences and affects her relationship with God. It helps her grow in her faith, she says. “The music helps me talk to God, it helps me hear from him, it helps me vent and it helps me show people what my conversations with him are like,” said Raine. “This is my tool of catharsis, it’s how I heal and feel. For me, each song is a journey.”
Having penned each song on her 2022 album, Journey, Raine used the music as a way for listeners to get a peek into her personal life and in her spiritual journey. Even so, she won’t take full credit for what she’s produced. “Each song has come about differently,” Raine explained. “These songs have helped me understand God better. Some of them I felt like he wrote. I don’t even know how I get credit for it. I just sat there, opened up and literally let it download from heaven.”
One particular track, “World on Fire,” is one of the songs that best reflects the environment in which Black people are living in today. During the pandemic, when social justice awareness was at an all-time high, Raine used that time to reflect, and found that the point of her music was to not just heal those who identify as Christian, but also those who may need to hear from God and know that He’s present. Naomi learned that her ministry is inclusive—and those in attendance at the Apollo Thursday night will experience this first-hand.
“I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know if I’ll ever get to perform at the Apollo.’ But as you’re asking me this question, I’m like, ‘oh my god, I’m actually getting to sing at the Apollo!’ It’s just a major blessing,” said Raine.
She continued, “Wherever God wants to put me that’s where I want to be. But I’m so aware of the fact that there’s legacy and history at certain places. I’m so grateful to be a part of the Apollo Theater’s legacy and step on the stage where so many Black entertainers have gotten a breakthrough.”
If Raine’s voice and message are something you would like to hear, make sure to come to see her live at the Apollo Theater on December 8 when we will celebrate The Root 100 honorees!