Lamya: 'Learning From Falling'
Much-Traveled Singer Turns Out a Wide-Ranging Solo Album
Listen to Neda Ulaby's report.
June 29, 2002 --
Lamya is the latest protégé of record executive Clive Davis, placing her in the company of Whitney Houston, Carlos Santana and Patti Smith -- not to mention this year's Grammy sensation, Alicia Keys. Her first solo CD, Learning From Falling, is due in stores July 30. It's already generating some of the biggest advance sales of the summer.
Lamya, 28, was born in Mombasa, Kenya, but grew up in England and Oman. As a teenager, she studied anthropology at the American University in Cairo, Egypt.
She tells NPR's Neda Ulaby that there's no place now where she feels a sense of home. Davis says this is evident in her music, describing her as a "songwriter with definite different influences, genealogy coming from Oman and growing up in England."
Her songs make use of a remarkable five-octave range. One critic marveled that Lamya can "soar one moment and drop to a whisper the next."
Davis, the industry legend now with J Records, discovered Lamya in New York, where she arrived with thoughts of being a rock star -- and encountered people who thought she was telling them she was from "Omaha."
Trained as an opera singer, she also plays piano, cello, guitar and trombone. She gravitated toward rock and roll in the early 1990s and, in her words, "tried to be Madonna." Her vocals can be heard on albums by Duran Duran and Soul II Soul.
Her name was inspired in part by the Keats poem "Lamia" and her work and life remain rooted in the classical. She's an avowed insomniac who reads Ovid and Catullus in Latin to relax, and composes poems that can reach 40 pages in length. She wrote all the lyrics and music for her debut album.
Previous public radio coverage
Lamya sings live for NPR member station KCRW on May 7, 2002
Lamya's home page.
Keats' poem Lamia.