After spending the last decade in the Pacific Northwest, Mimi Naja has made her way from Portland, OR to her new Nashville home. Raised in the outskirts of Atlanta, the urban south beckoned her spirit when touring paused. As a founding member of roots-rock sweethearts Fruition, Mimi began her professional music career as one of three friends busking on the streets of Portland in 2008. As buzz grew around Fruition’s alluring three-part harmonies and community-bonding dance floor, they took their show to stages around the country. Still, the band continued to busk in between shows, and eventually met their manager on the streets of Austin during SXSW in 2013. Fast forward to early 2020, and the band had developed into a national headline act including an album release show at Denver’s Mission Ballroom, and became ongoing festival favorites at Northwest String Summit, High Sierra Music Festival, and WinterWonderGrass; with highlight appearances at Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Bonnaroo, LOCK’N and more.
Much like her aversion to being pigeon-holed to one genre, Mimi applies the same philosophy when it comes to her instruments of choice. In Fruition, (where she is one of 3 lead vocalists), Mimi is known as a mandolinist and guitar player, but while grounded at home from the pandemic, she took advantage of the opportunity to practice for hours on piano, bass, drums, and even turntables. Growing up on all things radio pop and Southern rap, she ironically found her love of bluegrass upon moving out west, and remains forever inspired by the soul sounds of Motown and Stax. With her raw and direct voice - that’s been likened to Bonnie Raitt- she’s just as likely to croon a slow acoustic ballad as a frenetic rock and roll heater.
When Covid-19 radically altered life around the globe, Mimi found another silver lining by entering a substance treatment program. She continues to take life one day at a time and has remained in recovery since April 2020. Her latest solo endeavor, an EP entitled Nothing Has Changed, shares her latest chapter. Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers says “Mimi’s record sounds so original and refreshing to me...I’m truly inspired.” The title track “Nothing Has Changed” is symbolic of the meditative nature of entering this newfound chapter of self-improvement, and the venting of frustrations of shedding old skin for the sake of growth. The EP is honest and revealing, and while the title may seem pessimistic, a deep dive into the layers unveils a call for reinvention. After taking an early listen to the new release, fellow songwriter Anna Tivel said “If honesty had a voice, it would be Mimi’s. She has this way of lighting up the vulnerable depth, a gritty spotlight on a hard-won stage where she invites us to see our shared struggles made beautiful. These songs are human, full of questioning and compassion.”
The EP, out April 2nd, is available for Pre-order with a limited edition autographed poster at her website, and the first track is available on all digital services today: http://smarturl.it/MimiNaja
Mimi and Fruition bassist Jeff Leonard produced a video for the title track that can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/b8glTIbd1aY