Her name is pronounced ‘Neeve’ and in Irish mythology her namesake is the daughter of the sea god. “She was in her own right the Queen of the land of eternal youth. Who doesn’t like the sound of that?” asks Niamh Evans, smiling.
At just 15, the young singer and songwriter has signed with the Channel Media record label in Sri Lanka. Niamh’s breakthrough could have been timed better – she and her family are in the process of moving to Nairobi in Kenya where she will attend school.
She will be missed on the local scene though where the sight of her sitting on stool and cradling her guitar is a familiar one.
While Niamh is most comfortable on the guitar, she is also a somewhat “reluctant pianist.” Having been born and brought up in Colombo, she was trained by Sureka Amerasinghe, through whom she received an early introduction to jazz and more recently she studied under the guidance of Denham Pereira, Director of music ‘Voice of Praise’ choir, St Andrew’s Church as well as Maxie Rosario of the Musicmatters school.
She began singing at an early age and was performing in musical shows by the time she turned 8. The family joke is that she picked it up in utero. “My mum has this theory: she only had one music CD to listen to while she was pregnant and that was Ella Fitzgerald. We joke that listening to Ella, for nine months in the womb taught me how to sing.” Ella remains one of her favourite musicians but she’s also grown to love the likes of Billie Holiday, Adele, Amy Winehouse and Ed Sheeran.
She’s been working on her own music as well.
“I’m still in the experimental stage of writing my own music and so far I’m jealously guarding those words because I’m not sure they’re good enough,” she confesses. She thinks she just might have more growing up to do. “What I find most challenging about writing music is to find the right lyrics that are meaningful and memorable without being trivial. It seems the best lyrics come from life experience and I’m sure as I experience more of the joys and sorrows of life, the lyrics will begin to write themselves.” For now, she’s thriving on all the positive feedback she’s been getting, which has encouraged her to play more music.
As her date of departure loomed, Niamh knew that leaving the island and her life here behind was going to be hard. She’ll miss all the wonderful friends she’s made here and of course the food – it’s hard to find a substitute for a spicy Sri Lankan chicken curry. “It’s very sad that I’m leaving Sri Lanka after 15 years, but it’s also very exciting that I will spend the next 3 years in Nairobi, Kenya. I think musically this could be very exciting and I would love my music to be influenced by the rhythms and colour of African music,” she says.
In the meantime, you can check her out by searching for Niamh Evans on Youtube. What’s certain is we haven’t heard the last of her – she says she’s already looking forward to returning to Sri Lanka to play a few concerts here.
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