Navasha Daya- Arts Educator and Cultural Arts Activist
SpotlightSpotlight interviews advocates, community leaders and policymakers who have dedicated their careers to improving our communities, our nation and the world.
Navasha Daya is a singer, songwriter, producer, and spiritual and cultural arts activist, who from childhood was inspired and encouraged to use her voice and talents for upliftment and change. Steadfast in her dedication to the upliftment of the community, she along with Fanon Hill and youth mentees Rashard Willliams and Cherdaya Allen, co-founded the Baltimore City Youth Resiliency Institute, now the Youth Resiliency Institute (YRI).
A Baltimore transplant by way of Cleveland, Ohio, as an arts educator and cultural arts activist, Navasha has taught voice and music to elementary, middle, and highschool school age youth for over 12 years, integrating character development, multiculturalism, and musicianship skills in her classes. Navasha Daya is a professional performing and recording artist who has over the past 15 years been one of the foremothers of the underground/ indie soul music movement. For the past decade, Navasha served as lead vocalist, songwriter and co-founder of the highly acclaimed soul – jazz band,
4LPs, international tours and thousands of performances later, Navasha released her debut solo project in 2012.
Who inspired you to do the work you are doing?
I was inspired to do the work I am doing by the values instilled in me by my parents. They always reminded me to leave things better than I found it and to be compassionate. They also instilled in me the importance of culture and spirituality and the positive impact that it has on one’s own self – development and confidence. That foundation is the framework for my service today.
What is the biggest challenge facing the United States and how would you fix it?
The biggest challenge facing the United States is the lack of equity in positions of power within organizations that make decisions about children of color. The Youth Resiliency Institute provides platforms for children, youth, and young adults to discuss the inequity in Baltimore and the United States. And we provide them with opportunities to meet with other youth leaders in Baltimore and around the United States while also positioning them to address this issues in their own communities.
Where can we find out more about your work?
Check out www.youthresiliencyinstitute.org to learn more.
What advice do you have for young people interested in your field?
Dedicate yourself to your own personal growth- mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Find mentors to assist you in your goals and self- development. Always stay connected with what is happening in the various communities and governmental agencies in your city while also maintaining a healthy worldview.
How do you find balance with a career as demanding as yours?
I make time in my life for stillness. I will turn off my phone and just fellowship with Spirit. Although my husband and I work together within The Youth Resiliency Institute, I also make sure we schedule consistent “quality time” where we unwind and relax.
What is your favorite book?
I have many books that I love, but one of my favorite books is “Tapping the Power Within” by Iyanla Vanzant.
What do you when you are not saving the world?
That is so sweet. I don’t personally feel that I am “saving the world”, but when I am not serving children and youth through The Youth Resiliency Institute, I am on tour performing as an independent soul artist, or providing holistic wellness services to clients at my private practice.
What are your comfort foods?
Cabbage with Turnip Greens, Pinto Beans and Rice, Vegan Cornbread, Peach Cobbler or Vegan strawberry shortcake.
Who is your favorite musician?
As a professional musician, there are so many musicians that I have learned from and admire, but one of my favorite musicians is Stevie Wonder.I really enjoy his songwriting and his voice, and he seems to live a life full of joy.