Magana Ngazia Always Hears the Music

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NYU first-year Magana Ngaiza just dropped her debut single “Keep It Going.”

By Avani Jurakhan, Staff Writer

Magana Ngaiza, an NYU first-year from Kenya, just dropped the newest single on your feels playlist. Like its title suggests, the soulful, house-infused “Keep It Going” is bound to keep you playing it on repeat.

An acting student in the Tisch School of the Arts, Ngaiza is shaking the world of rhythm and blues while simultaneously pursuing theatre. Whether it was making music or learning lines, Ngaiza’s childhood was shaped by music, encouraged and influenced by her father.

“He’s always singing, so since I was three, I started singing and then writing music,” Ngaiza told WSN. “He listened to afro-beats like Fela Kuti, and even old-school hip-hop, like A Tribe Called Quest and Slick Rick.”

From small concerts to musicals, Ngaiza immersed herself in the world of performance when her family moved to Virginia. Regardless of her formal training in piano and voice, she applied to NYU for acting over singing because the former had played a more prominent role in her life. She was quickly engulfed by the New York music scene, realizing that her art needed more room to breathe than it had been given before. Thus, her debut single “Keep It Going” was born.

“This song is about being in a relationship with somebody and knowing that they’re probably not going to be good for you,” Ngaiza said. “Even when you know someone has a reputation for being a dog, but you still get into a relationship with them.”

She predominantly writes about the love and thrill of life that young people experience. Though recently Ngaiza found her style gravitating toward vibes similar to SZA and Lauryn Hill, her music continues to provide solace for her.

“Music is life … I know that’s so cliche,” Ngaiza said. “Music is literally a microcosm for life, whether it’s the experiences I’ve been through or my friends have been through, that’s what inspires me … wherever you go, you always hear music.”

The hardest part of making music, in her opinion, is building up the courage to blow past self-doubt and put art out into the world.

“Experiment and be free and just be confident because in the end of the day I’m making this music for me and i’m just sharing it in case someone else likes it,” Ngaiza said. “It doesn’t really phase me if someone doesn’t like it.”

Ngaiza is currently enjoying the support and encouragement of her friends in response to her first song. Her ideal career balances the love she has for both. When I asked what fans can expect in the future, she said to just “stay tuned.”

Check out “Keep It Going” here.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 2 print edition. Email Avani Jurakhan at [email protected]