Ottawa local OK Naledi brings a personal touch to the final night of Bluesfest

July 19th, 2022 by  |  Published in Bluesfest locals, Concerts

OK Naledi Bluesfest July 17 2022

An Intimate Setting

The coffeehouse vibes of the Barney Danson Theatre in the Canadian War Museum made a perfect setting for OK Naledi’s heartfelt, joyful, and intimate set on the final night of Bluesfest. A local to both Ottawa and Botswana, OK Naledi (AKA Kimberly Naledi Sunstrum) brought her signature Afro house sound to a packed room full of supportive fans and curious newcomers who were treated to an evening of uplifting music and surprises.

Joined by DJ del Pilar and drummer Kira Montfort, OK Naledi delivered upbeat yet deeply personal tunes exploring, among other things, personal tragedy, awkward teen crushes, and self-acceptance. The last of these themes was expressed in the powerful and infectious anthem, “Don’t,” which made for great sing-along material. Naledi brought a warm stage presence as she explained the genesis of most of the songs while sharing stories of her own life, sometimes directing her comments to her supportive father, who was seated front and centre.

N​aledi was backed by del Pilar’s steady grooves and supportive gestures, while Montfort smoldered behind the drums with mesmerizing intensity. The trio was confident and full of life, but the greatest treat of the night came when Naledi brought in a 4th member to the group. Naledi spent Bluesfest involved in the Be in the Band program that gives teens an opportunity to live out the rock and roll fantasy for a couple weeks. So, in the middle of the set, Naledi invited one of her students, 14-year-old Sally, to belt out an incredible cover of the Cranberries’ “Zombie” that brought the house down.

An Intimate Performance

OK Naledi 2 Bluesfest July 17 2022

Whether discussing the challenges of learning to play trumpet during Covid, the heartbreak of losing her mother, or struggling to remember whether she was playing guitar on the next song, N​aledi exuded an endearing vulnerability that alone would make for a great evening. The fact that the music was all fantastic helped too.

An artist who can keep a crowd moving is one thing, but to keep them smiling is something rarer still.

Check out the Spotlight Ottawa interview with OK Naledi here and a partial setlist here.

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