How Naomi Sharon went from theatre kid to Drake protégée

100%: We quizzed the Rotterdam-based singer-songwriter about Sting, Real Housewives and healing from heartbreak.

Naomi Sharon is feeling refreshed. To start the year off right, the Dutch-Caribbean musician has just chopped all her hair off. I’m really happy,” she says, Zooming in from her home in Rotterdam, her American Akita barking in the background. It seems dumb, but when you do something drastic to your appearance, it’s like, OK, new era.”

This isn’t the only switch-up for Sharon this year. She’s just dropped her new single, Nothing Sweeter, an acoustic-guitar-led, stripped-back track mapping the vulnerability of being open to new love. When you meet someone and you finally kiss each other, you’re mesmerised by it,” she continues. It’s like finding hope in love after heartbreak or difficulty trusting people. That’s what this song is about.”

Sharon actually made Nothing Sweeter at the same time as most of the songs on Obsidian, her captivating, soulful debut album representing a very intense moment” in her life, which dropped in 2023. It treads similar thematic territory, like heartbreak and acceptance; sonically, though, Sharon has kept things comparatively simple. It’s just me and a guitar,” she says. I thought it could have a moment on the album, but it felt stronger on its own.”

It’s little wonder why Sharon’s silky smooth vocals, reminiscent of Sade’s unmistakable lower register, caught Drake’s eye back in 2019. In that same year, he DM’d Sharon on Instagram and asked her to send over some music. As of 2023, she’s the first female signee to his label, OVO Sound, which he launched in 2012.

Born and raised in Rotterdam, Sharon grew up listening to Steve Wonder and Sting – her all-time favourite artist – before starting her career in musical theatre. She starred in productions of The Lion King and Dream Girls, before re-evaluating what was actually important to her. It was so safe and comfortable. After three years of The Lion King, I was like, no more!” says Sharon. I didn’t know who I was as an individual. It was time to do me, to find my voice again.”

Over the last few months, I feel like I’ve really regained my power,” she continues. When I listen to music, I do it because I need to, like some kind of medicine. I want to provide that for people. I hope it motivates them to make good decisions for themselves.”

10% What kind of emotions and experiences influence your work?

The other day on TikTok, someone was like, Are you traumatised, making music like this?” Yeah! I’m a traumatised queen! Well, I’m a very sensitive person. So when it comes to feeling sad, I’m not afraid to feel it. But I don’t want to make songs that are like, I can’t live without this person”. I can feel the pain, but I need a bit of hope. No disrespect to Adele.

20% What’s a piece of advice that changed your life?

We’re all projecting. Sometimes, when you do something and people comment on it, it’s based on experiences, fear or things they carry with them and project onto you. Stay true to your own compass.

30% If you were cooking to impress someone, what would you make?

I’m really into these Asian bowls at the moment – kind of like poke but with stuff like beef teriyaki.

40% You rule the world for a day. What goes down?

I would do a big reset. No more weapons, more evenly distributed power. Go back to basics.

50% Best hangover cure?

To make yourself a healthy breakfast and watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. My favourite is Adrian.

60% Who’s your favourite?

Adrian, I think. Kyle too.

70% Love, like, hate?

I love people who love unconditionally and are considerate. I like Bali. I hate dishonesty and when people don’t take responsibility for that. Everyone lies, but you have to own it.

80% What’s your favourite song of all time?

Fragile by Sting.

90% What’s a bad habit you wish you could kick?

Talking down on myself.

100% What can artists do to help save the world?

Start with themselves. Practise what you preach – we don’t all have to be activists. It’s important that you do things from a pure heart.

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