Bluesfest locals: OK Naledi

July 16th, 2022 by  |  Published in Bluesfest locals, Features, Interviews, News

OK Naledi - promo

OK Naledi

The Bluesfest locals series will introduce you to the talented music makers from the Ottawa area performing at this year’s RBC Bluesfest. Come on out early to Bluesfest and discover some great new music!

OK Naledi

Sunday, July 17
8pm to 9pm
Barney Danson Theatre


OK Naledi is an Afro House music project created by Queer, Motswana Canadian musician Kimberly Naledi Sunstrum.

Traditional sub-Saharan clean guitar lines, classic deep bass, movement-inspiring beats and that iconic, driving Afro House tempo – these are the pieces that define OK Naledi.

There is a lot of complexity when it comes to being a visibly Queer, biracial, womxn, artist who grew up predominantly in Botswana, but began creating music after moving to Canada – a Western demographic. This pandemic exacerbated the importance of nurturing identity and infusing it in the music of OK Naledi proudly, powerfully and consistently.

The Talent

Naledi Sunstrum – Vocals
Kira Montfort – Drums, backing vocals
DJ del Pilar – DJ, backing vocals


What was your reaction to the news you’d be a part of Bluesfest and who was the first person you told?
The first person I told was my fiancee – who is subjected to most of the exciting news events I find out about! Followed quickly behind by my Dad and my Sister. To be fair, the first creature I told was my dog Taylor who is often lounging/sleeping/snoring in my home studio where I work and spend MANY hours. I’m honestly so thrilled to be part of Bluesfest this year. After what feels like a lifetime of lockdowns and restrictions the prospect of being up on that iconic Bluesfest festival stage and part of this year’s epic lineup is just incredible.

Please describe your sound.
OK Naledi is a high energy Afro House live music performance featuring live vocals, live drums, DJ accompaniment and dancing, always dancing! OK Naledi’s music style calls to mind the vibes of South African house group Liquideep as well as Nigerian house artist Nonso Amadi. The fusion of Afro House and Kwaito with Neo Soul feels fresh and exciting.

How did you get started on your musical journey?
Music has always been a part of my life. Growing up, my parents always had music playing on the stereo and so from an early age I was exposed to a wide variety of music – from Hugh Masekela to Paul Simon, Brenda Fassi to Reba McEntire, Bob Marley to The Soweto String Quartet. I grew up mostly in Botswana where Kwaito and Afro House music was and still is the mainstream genre. Its groove and beat is addictively satisfying and makes your whole body vibrate. My first performance toe-dipping moment was singing in school musicals and variety shows – I’m pretty sure the first song I sang on a stage was Wishing You Were Somehow Here With Me from The Phantom of the Opera. From there I quickly realized that I wanted to gain more autonomy over the content I wanted to write and sing, which is what led me to learning how to play the guitar (and eventually the piano) and utilize these skills to learn how to express my thoughts and ideas in tandem with melody.

What can music fans expect from your show? Will you be playing any new music at Bluesfest and/or releasing new music ahead of your performance?
OK Naledi is a project that I started over the pandemic – like so many artists writing and creating music is a coping mechanism and tool to comprehend what’s going on in the world – and my goodness there were so many things that unfolded in the world over the past two years. I came to a palpably clear musical realization that I needed to get back in touch with my Motswana roots and heritage. So I started to write and create Afro House music – through the power of the internet I was able to work with, and learn from some incredible Afro House and Afro Beat makers in order to move in this path authentically. In short, all the music we’ll be performing at Bluesfest this year is new and I’m so excited to be sharing it. So far I’ve released 3 OK Naledi singles that you can listen to on whatever your favorite streaming platform is as well as 2 stunning music videos that were created entirely in Ottawa collaboratively with local filmmakers. Check them out on Youtube.

What artists are you hoping to catch during this year’s Bluesfest?
Without listing the entire Bluesfest lineup, some specific artists I’m excited to checkout are TLC, Bone Thugs and Harmony, Michael Franti & the Spearheads, Femi Kuti & The Positive Force, Garbage, The Beaches, Tash Sultana, Marshmallow to name a few. It’s times like these that I wish I could clone myself to catch it all!

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