Makinde Adedapo and Naima Adedapo

Recorded December 26, 2019 Archived December 26, 2019 40:33 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: chi003217


Makinde Adedapo (37) talks to his sister Naima Adedapo (35) about her experience growing up in Maywood, IL and experience as a contestant on American Idol.

Subject Log / Time Code

Naima recalls growing up with two Orisha priests as parents.
Makinde recalls his parents spiritual role in the community.
Makinde remembers his mom as a jazz singer and a storyteller at school.
Naima talks about her first memories and how they have influenced her.
Naima remembers being pushed into a solo as high school as particularly formative.
Naima recall her performing life after college and auditioning for American Idol.
Naimal talks about her life post-American Idol.
Makinde remembers watching his sister on American Idol. Makinde asks Naima what kind of direction has that taken her in.
Naima talks about being a mom.


  • Makinde Adedapo
  • Naima Adedapo

Recording Locations

Chicago Cultural Center

Venue / Recording Kit



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00:00 Yeah, that is for me is whether I got the whole day.

00:10 My name is Naima. Adedapo. I am 35 years old. Today's date is Thursday December 26th, 2019. We are in Downtown Chicago, Illinois. I'm here with my brother and McKean de adedapo and let's go and I am I am 38 and on this upcoming Sunday. Today's date is 12 26, 2019 or December 26th. 2018. Are we on downtown Chicago Chicago Cultural Center?

00:50 And I am interviewing my sister, my younger sister Naima adedapo. So good afternoon, of course just came back from the festive Christmas in Milwaukee that is a annual or deal, which is worse for you you now you have to drive up from Nashville. We do all that and we always have to come immediately to Chicago for Dad's birthday and then my birthday so yeah, it's got to be pretty hectic ball like schools bouncing around a lot of miles, you know, but so worth it in the long run, you know, it's family. That's what we do here. You can come up with Mom and Dad and soul I think from me with this is kind of developed into more. So when I started out I started out I just really want to see you know, what what types of experiences that we hadn't really just share direct.

01:50 With each other or you know what things you know it like it is now and we all talk Inside Man. I never really knew that. I never really knew that's kind of what was going on with you type of thing, but now it seems kind of morph into something else so that the primary question I've been asking everybody is what just from your you know, natural memory. What do you remember like? What are some of the most formidable memories about growing up in a house of to orisha prayer for all the good stuff reminders for me? How as a young person? I was really really doing what my parents told me to do for the most part. And when I think I actually told the story of how me and you used to leave the house and African clothes and then like have a second set of clothes and in life.

02:50 Backpack and we would drive off in a bush before we got to school and then forget or not forget to come home in the right set of clothes and stuff like that. Just kind of what are some of the interesting things you remember about growing up in a man. Well, I think some of the the biggest most impactful things as far as I go. I was simply like the bin bags right the chanting the singing the spirit, right? That was cash that just kind of

03:23 Was in the room when we would have been being bathed in the sense of community and grounding, right? I think that for me it lays some of those foundational blocks that allow me through the rest of my life to be able to just kind of ground down and go back to those even if what was on top of that Foundation start to crumble a little bit. Always go back to the wipe that stuff away come back the foundation and then rebuild and so but even though I mean always say I said it, you know with a game by both of their 70th birthdays that it built character man. We had to really go through a lot like again we were in you know the Yaga and bye-bye. It was a little different but it was still

04:23 Upper echelon, you know that the you know, it was coming out with the African clawed. Why would African names with African clothes that you know, I'm so immediately became targets immediately. I like all we can clean the African booty scratchers in that. You don't feel like he worth it Hargis for what would have been bullying but I think maybe because of our our Spirits are energy. We just begin to like make jokes back or we would joke on ourselves before they even got an opportunity to do it or whatever the case is, right and so a bill that built that kind of yes cool if you think this or that but I'm me and I'm going to do that regardless, you know, even if maybe we would you know home and cried at the quarter round.

05:23 Yeah, I'll just like I met my ex are probably connected directly to my anchor know. I'm angry. I'm really upset that this is a dangerous place. You got your friends out and playing in it and an adult runs out of your basement in the middle. If they just ran out of your basement. I was just leaving that happen. I for real try to figure a way to say how it didn't come from our basement has little small little wood.

06:23 My backyard

06:30 Call me again like those kinds of things again. Just lay these kind of these blocks you building blocks to build from and in the long run played a huge role in our being able to relate anybody you write like so we didn't grow up their traditional are in a traditional Christian setting or in the church or anything like that. We're definitely exposed to it here and there but what if I think what it allow for us to do is just brought in our perspective as human beings rights that does not just America. There's not just this one thing that you know that there is a world beyond what we know and we can like access set through our ancestors. We can access it through studying right just the awareness of it, right? So we used to be trying to talk to grown people right that are 23.

07:30 I have never even heard of these faces in Africa that have never even heard of this kind of culture or you know, like what you know, so so it set us up by saying for this ability to go into a space that is maybe a little bit foreign to us, but with an open mind, right so I can I can go sit in a church service all day long and receive a good word, right? I can go to a Buddhist temple and you know still receive that that kind of spirit. I think it just for us or for me at least for sure. I'm allowed me to have a broader perspective of the world has offered worldview. You make us a little context of our parents were both of our parents were initiated into Yoruba culture Yeah Yeah Yeahs on 77 and Baba and 84 Honda Civic. All right.

08:30 That's pretty early. I did not know it but he's respectively how we refer to Mom. Bye. Bye. How are you refer to Dad and they were you know, very active and well, I can't a well-known they became well known but at the time they were, you know known I'm in the community so our house became the temple and became the the spot there was the jungle temple in Chicago. So anybody who is looking very arboriculture oryx or involving Yoruba culture. We're naturally connected to our parents in some way. So we used to have this every time I thought it was for Sunday, maybe one Sunday a month and it was definitely a reoccurring one while it was 34 where they would pick one of the deity's write the orisha and we would saying dance do all kind of you know,

09:30 Ceremonies and stuff like that with the community. So you act like this interesting to hear you talk about how I set up the foundation for character-building because a part of that process. I remember as a kid is waking up at 9:00 in the morning on this Saturday coming in the house cuz we knew Shrine day was going to be tonight then having to do, you know time to write true but it also turn my room into the kids play area. So anybody who brought kids automatically had access to our room at Toys are selfie. This is nonnegotiable. They're coming. They're going to use your stuff like nobody does that nobody does that? No other people do that? But yeah, I agree with you. I think that's certainly helped shape some of that openness about how we all approach people. I think all of us are so broken if he was crazy story ever told by last night, which I'm not going to tell here but that's just ridiculous this degree of just all people deserve.

10:30 You know the time of day if I have it and if they so ask for it for me. So now I've shifted into it clearly liking to the this yoga around right as a yoga instructor, but a lot of that for me is just the space of what this this.

10:51 Yikes. Sorry a lot of that for me. Is this this face? I like this Namaste write this this the Inner Light Within Me sees the Inner Light Within you right? There's this this space of non judgement right? There is a space that is like look, you're no better than me, but I'm no better than you and we're human beings and we can meet on this level on the owner. Very basic connectivity level any of us, you know what I mean doesn't matter if you speak it entirely different language by smile at you you under for the non-verbal is there are spirits or energy can't connect. You know, and so that's a very I think that's a huge part of what yeah. Yeah, you know, it course it is led to things like you don't do people living with us every other weekend.

11:51 How to say yes, but but no it it did again it just allow for that space. Oh, well, okay is another human being so how do I connect with you? How do I figure out where you fit in our world really basic fundamental human appreciation a connection connectivity a little bit. So like both of our parents. Our mother was a jazz. Is it still a jazz singer? That was very active jazz singing man and storytelling. She said do storytelling at our school. I don't know if you were available for Beto.

12:49 Are there to be the dad as though I never got to be brave after school and she would do the storytelling to the whole school and we always knew that was whatever and they all lose our parents, but then she would always start pulling for characters from the audience and play the role and Auntie would always at where is Martine de where's my side once I was sick way in the balcony one time and I was like nah, I'm good seventy-five of the people that I work. They are raising their hands. They want to do come on everybody get my side. Like that's just what she always put us on to that degree the both of us now, you know, I'm going through full professional music and Stage Korean have our whole lot nearby was obviously stage director a theater director and theater Professor. So how

13:49 You know when you know you were on American Idol in 2011 made it to finals did the whole national tour thing. Got to really can't see what a real music career is. You know what I'm saying and living so like how much I don't know. How much is maybe that's the wrong question but just described were, you know can't talk about how that how that experience was then versus when it's you when now it's on you and you're the only what I got to start with just kind of really basic thing that one of my first memories. If not, my first memory is yeah used to tie us on her back right curious African stop my first if my first is Nino in that in that may be one of the first right memories was having my head against her back and listening to her voice vibrate through her back, right even when she was talking or whatever.

14:49 Will do that when we were on our you know rehearsal. So, this is Earl. This is like 2 years, but I remember it so much as I could because he used to vibrate my body, right? He survived my entire like chest and so it was always present right hurt her voice that music bug whether she was singing chance or jazz song or whatever. We you know, grew up and sometimes falling asleep in the night clubs at Shell at way. She couldn't find a babysitter. I'm falling asleep the jazz music in the most out of me. And so it has been ever-present in my life like our lives right? So it's not something that for me was like there was this moment that you know all this is this is it it's always been present now, I think that the way that it kind of shifted for me was when I moved up to

15:49 Milwaukee there were all mine. There are so many experiences but ye was singer, you know what I'm saying it so I was like nah, I'm the I'm going to be the dancer cuz you know, and I remember her making me do an audition for Milwaukee Public theater and I'm telling you I cried during the thing. I was I was not happy and I cry the whole time or whatever, but she made me do it and I was like, okay and then out then I thought even more against that you know, and it wasn't until I went to high school until I mean, I was in Lincoln Middle School the Arts did all of that. I wasn't on the step team today at you know, it was in the choir and I'll try but never really had.

16:40 I taken on this singing thing the singing voice right and so I went when I went to high school actually found my voice my singing voice in the gospelaires, which was a gospel choir one of the only ways to be able to sing at St. Joan antida High School. I was forced then actually to do a solo director was like no. No, you don't understand your voice like just you're going to do the subway surfers prepare for it. I would say it is but that's I think that's why I was resisting it so much but then when I sing my first solo I was like all this is like, whoa, like no. No, this is a thing like I can feel this like, it's something that it it just, you know, it didn't feel like me.

17:40 Even if I felt like just some kind of other source moving through me and I'm like a hole there's that this isn't and then that Euphoria after After experiencing something like that. You're like, wait a minute. How do I do that again? And then I had I had a time which also was a moment for me and I was like, okay can be more impactful than just me just be performing. There was a young lady I saved on it's either that she was crazy. She was considering suicide. Yeah, and we I was singing at the concert something like that like America the Beautiful, I mean all of all songs, you know, but but Rodger had just died right. So I was like in a emotional state Baxter. It was just like this energy or whatever. And so when I sang I'm come out it was it was everything I had because one I was trying to

18:40 Go back two years from like just having found that out and but afterwards this young lady wrote me a letter long letter. I still have it. That was like, I don't know what it was but your voice saved my life. I was going I was literally that night going to take like she was done and then I was like man, okay, maybe it's more impactful than just just me. You don't want to bathe or what exactly are the are the feeling I get from me right back. Okay. Well, how do I begin to connect to other people through this and then y'all password for performing I went to school for dancing really grounded down to the dance thing cuz I still was a little reluctant but I went into Houston portrait that's where I could sing and I was finding out of temptation's way to sing and doing musicals. I was Anita in West Side Story and all that kind of

19:39 So I was still doing what I love but it wasn't just the Focus right then but then I moved on from from college right graduated from uw-milwaukee. Yeah, but anyhow

20:10 After that after the performance the college performance life was over. I was like, yeah, but that was the college performance. Like that was the things we kind of had to do or you know, what you audition for it was great. But where is your space? Like what what are you doing? Like and teaching is always was one of the things that helped because it is as a way to perform I was performing with healthy African dance company owns performance fuel hip hop dance company was touring around was doing you know, I was doing I was performing but it was more on a dance level than anything and then actually, you know, what's really funny is I saw audition for American Idol three times, right? First time. It was Susan henzy, which I love her to this day. She is still one of my favorite shoes like a second mom to me. I think she was like you need to go audition for this American Idol thing. Whatever it is. It's as competition. It was his very first season and I went and I got like into this.

21:10 It's in his room cuz you know, they have radio personalities first come to whatever and I went into this room and I sang motherless child. I was just right but it what it was was something I had done in a performance or any play and we are the drum right or whatever and saw it wasn't pop. It wasn't something that you can say. Oh, there's here's an artist or something. It was me. Just trying to think it show you a kiss me know and then so immediately was like nah it this is not it then the second time around I went with I shall be with him and in Chicago, but I was pregnant I was at least six months pregnant. I think at that point enough to be showing right and and they put me through to the next round.

22:10 And unfortunately, they were like now too shabby in that moment or whatever but they put me through to the next round and then there were like I learned in hindsight from The Producers the next year. Well, let me back up so they put me through in the next and then they cut me right and then the third time I went back and read like no we remember you from last year, but we didn't we didn't put you through because you were friend until we know what this is. We know what kind of work this type we know what kind of having a newborn you know with that. Hate to find out when it's going to be seriously. So so it was funny because later on we no long lines. I'm learning that they remembered me. They actually they were like, no, you know and when you came back we like bam, there it is where she's back with, you know, and so grueling kind of process the 20,000 people and you know and

23:10 It's it's it's not we all kind of know this at the points. Not one day of audition. If it is a process constant and you know, you go back and they shut is a shave it down to three hundred and you go back and they shave it down to a hundred something you go back and then you didn't then you make Hollywood week and you know, it was a lot but in that I'll say I learned a lot of lessons in Show Business write this in the end production American Idol is not a space. I think we know honestly to be honest. It's not nothing to space to develop as an artist K, right? It is more it is a great place for somebody who knows who they are as an artist on the reggae band thing. I was like I was doing the pots why I was like, but I'm not from Jamaica. So maybe this is not the right thing, but I love it because it was me trying to figure out.

24:10 Myself as a human human but also as an artist and so as I went on to the the show, it was just more of a I guess I should do that. Let me do this and then was like, oh, what can I do to stand out more like who how many people have actually done Reggae on the other how many people have. You know or whatever and stuff and how can I put some African dance on to the thing with me? There was one point where I really wanted to I think Strange Fruit right at this point. I would love to pay tribute to my ancestors. But when I got into the personal space they had the the the version that a different version of strange fruit and so I wasn't able to sing it because I think that honestly, I think that that would have been one of those moments because if you look back there

24:55 There were times where I really wanted to sing a ballad but I had become known as that Bounty, you know fun or whatever away from it, but I wanted to sing in India Arie song every things that that were meaningful to me that I think that the lyricism inside of it was important for like exposure to America right now. Just like this is about me hear something that if you haven't heard it before maybe you should check out right so that's the whole space for that. But but after that was where I sent after American Idol after the tour right I got a record deal and it it was they wanted to Market me as an urban artist, which is a very small box honestly, you know,

25:55 And I could do that all day like, you know, you could be the next Lauryn Hill or whatever because they felt like I reminded them of her tone and like I could I could wrap I could do it. You know, I can do several things or whatever the case is in and they wanted me to like be in that box but I didn't really want to be in that box. And so I actually met my former manager Cindy Owen and started to like just be like, okay things are not transparent enough for me and in my mind she was she had this transparency about her that I was like, okay, this this is I like this I like so here's me this girl from the hood that like, you know, whatever that asked this little Southern lady from Nashville to management because I like appreciated her transparency, you know.

26:55 Noshi sushi at work with Reba McEntire for years and Lance bad. I mean all kinds of experience in the industry, you know, and so but there was a certain amount of Integrity there that I that I appreciate it. And so anyway that brought me into Nashville and to starting to write to write for my own thing so they bought me I was bought out of the record deal and then started to write for my Epp in Nashville. That is what I feel like some more of the most transformative of like artist finding in myself happened because it wasn't like in LA they had to a CD they like his is beating, you know, I mean, nothing go ahead and rock something to write something to it. And then it's more about the production right and Nashville, you know, you sit in a room with two two song writers or one or what?

27:55 And you is organic. It comes right from the guitar like you. None of me. Everything is like an inorganic process the melodies come from you the, you know, everything just kind of

28:08 Come together organically as hell that was like what I wanted and then I started to become immersed in the country music like I wanted to learn more about it and you know know the artist and just like get dive in and then I'm like, oh my gosh, the way these stories are being told by sewing resonated with me probably simply because of that background, right? So I'm like these the way they're started crying. I'm sitting up crying listening to of a freaking Patsy Cline song or whatever, you know, it's like things that I would never as a girl that you know, kind of grew up in Chicago on Milwaukee in the hood. I never thought I would be saying I love country music with my next question was going to like, you know, some funny stuff about some I always thought you were a much better dancer than singer.

29:08 He started singing in that hole. The way you described it. I v. I agree. I was like it is full companies on I was just way Pro true that the time for me. I'm in college still weak and you end up graduating the same time, you know, I started three years before but you but I was I was just like you I was starting to DJ on the Poetry scene and I was kind of getting involved in my own kind of Journey and just like you said dad was always awesome and you know, you should get in the theater and I was like, no man y'all was broken like there's no part of getting in the damn near $300,000 your job.

30:08 But but no, I mean it was definitely that type of experience for me to where was like you I don't actually want to follow in your footsteps that way now I was like, I'll get in the DJ and you know what I'm saying making some beats which is a little bit more my area anyway, and then I can make music for theater and I can make music for these things. Like I had identified a way to be a part of the Arts world that I like but in a way that I could be rich or at least not broke and then Sound Engineering was like the only thing that I could see is a career that would lend me both opportunities right that I can work with artists and I can still make some money cuz you can work on soundtrack, right? So anyway, so did I say in point? I remember watching that. Have you come going out of dancing and singing and I even remember the auditions that you know, you going through these auditions and me thinking like, why would she want to go do that? But I also remember

31:00 There was so when you finally did make the show and I like the TV show part, right? You know that BK toys My First Year teaching in Chicago and I had a I was in the hood for real with a group of freshman class at 120 students who you know, fresh out the gate. I got to try and establish a rapport with and figure out how we going to get through this and it with a curriculum that had no real is like a skeleton curriculum. Like it was no actual curriculum. We're kind of making it up on the Fly and kid will give you the business when you ain't really got your stuff together. So in any case when you got on it it almost immediately took some of the pressure that any normal first-year teacher and in that kind of environment would have had to do because immediately. I remember the first week of voting I came to school

32:00 Good morning. And one of my favorite students out. I she could jobs. Are you still my homegirl? She was she had gone to the copy machine earlier before like we opened doors for students and copied a picture of a vote for Naima poster that somebody made and she was passing them out to everybody in the hallway as they walk down hallway. So by the time I got in all were wearing boat Naima posters on their back like up and down the joint and then they so you know, that was a it was a that was a tremendous experience to not only watch use somebody I've watched you grow up and growing up with no all of the background stuff and all that know the similarities and familiarity is of our experience and they experience right but then to be also at the same time going on that is my sister on the national TV that everybody can see and everybody's going to know this right of my life.

33:00 In my opinion but one of the things to is related to that is so I want to know now me now, you've got two daughters and you you know, you're not exactly on the I'm going to be a singer for the rest of my life path. Like you still do that. That's a part of what you doing for the rest of them. It's the same thing like it serves its purpose for what it is. Right? Like I don't I don't need to be in the Limelight right? I don't need to be but that's what I love about songwriting. Right? So like I said when I went to Nashville, I found more of myself because you know, you can be 90 years old and be a songwriter doesn't right. You don't you don't have to be and your music is still connecting with people. So it's already about Connection in the long run. That's all. I don't think that perform.

34:00 Bring an Arts is 4 is that kind of connection? And so I can go and I can sing. I still have opportunities all the time to to sing in different places. I chose to refocus my energy a little bit to start rounding down and building myself up as a human being and that was kind of the the yoga Room yoga process to Healing from childhood trauma types of you know things that I think once you are able to go through or grow from you're actually able to harness who you are a little bit even just a little bit more as an artist as a songwriter as a a mother as a you don't know what you got two daughters now have artistic expressions and interest. How much is speak a little bit of what you feel is similar and maybe different

35:00 Between what it was like for you and Mom at their age and then now how you feel as a mom are the parallels are a little scary. You know what I mean like that because the other thing is that the artist life is a grind life, right? So we figure out things that we can do that still allow us to be art as he gets out. It will make the money just don't pay the bills, but I still don't think so for me watching that process with ye was like literally do I was I was tripping the other day because I was like, I teacher, you know, Storyteller driver she was performing, you know, the five jobs, you don't grind life. If you know same thing same thing, right? I'm like I'm driving for like Lyft and Uber just to be able to let you know make

36:00 That I can fall right that I can't sing or whatever the case is. So, you know still still teaching still right? I was just yoga instead of like children at Lloyd Street Elementary school, you know, but for me, I think it's just about like instilling in the Lonnie and I'll be all over which are the absolute love of my life the ones that made me drive even further like beast mode like, you know, I have to be a better person for them will be a better person. Will You Don't Own Me they gave me that push that drive. I think that for them is our for me it's important that they see that I'm not giving up on certain things right that I'm not I am I have to do what I have to do to provide for them. And and that is that is also like a very is left very humbling and wonderful experience as well write it creates that character that grind right we we like, how do you do it every like, I don't know but

37:00 I'll try to see if I did it. But yeah, it's it's just creating got space for them which I had watching. Yeah, I go out. Okay. She still doing what she's doing. She still going to do it, you know the man and like having letting them know who they are like as not only want to be an architect an artist. I'll be all that she wants to be a singer a little bit but you know, she's got other things that she can explore because they have the options. They had that same grounded them down and gave them the same block that we were giving you have options. You can be whatever you choose, you know, you love are stupid maybe think about architect, you know, because I'm still a form of art still creativity by whatever the case isn't so I don't know bottom line is like I have had a phenomenal experience in live. I've got I got two freaking perform with Beyonce. I got to sing background for Stevie Wonder You don't like or sing on the stage of Stevie Wonder?

38:00 Especially the red carpet is really nice things that a lot of people don't get really don't can't say that they got to do it and in those experiences, I found is like similar like that you mention a so a lot of artists that I was listening to I get to work with directly on a 4-day or but the other part about that experience. Is it is it is it helps to almost reground just didn't realize he's also just people man like they just happen to be really good singers or they have a really good song regular people that you know, these people that impacted your life that it just it just comes full circle and I think ultimately just gratitude for our parents laying those those foundational blocks for us to be able to bounce from the

39:00 Ramen to create our own trees with no doubt, you know, this is we have a we have a theme amongst the siblings are five of us. We are the starting five Andre fashion ourselves after the 1996 and 98 Chicago Championship documentary coming out June 2020 reasons. You just thank you so much. We can do more and more of this. I just saw Rodman walk in the building. So are we going to get him prepped? And then we got coach will now coach Kerr. Yeah. Thank you so much. I really love you big brother.