NANIKHA is a women’s a cappella musical ensemble known for their serious commitment to enriching African American culture and community life through the study and performance of African vocal music traditions. The group has a diverse repertoire of African, spiritual, cultural, jazz, and contemporary music, including adult and children’s songs in more than eight languages. Ensemble members have been creating harmonies together since 1982.
The name was made from the names of the ensembles’ founding members. Currently, NANIKHA includes four women. Nia Bey Al-Rasul, who helped create the ensemble, is a self-taught talent. She has been singing since the age of eight. Nadirah Barba toured with Billy Paul as a background singer, studied voice at Settlement Music School, and earned a degree in music at Community College of Philadelphia. Anita Barnes Cauthorn studied voice at Combs College of Music, has sung with Zion Baptist Senior Church and the Vine Memorial Baptist Church Chancel Choir (where she still performs), and has been a soloist for over 30 years. Taliah Munir, a songwriter and arranger as well as a singer, is a member of Al-Jaamium A Cappella Singers. She has been performing for over 20 years.
NANIKHA has shared the stage with such artists as Take Six, Sweet Honey in the Rock, The Persuasions, Sonia Sanchez, Angela Davis, Melba Moore, Roy Ayers, Khan Jamal, and Rufus Harley. A mainstay of community events locally, the ensemble also performs nationally, and internationally. An article about NANIKHA is included in the special “Women’s Music Issue” of PFP’s magazine Works in Progress (17:1).