If you’re a fan of neo-soul queens Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill, you’ll love Wayna, an Ethiopia-born singer nominated for a Grammy award (Best Urban/Alternative Performance) for “Lovin’ U (Music)” from her sophomore record “Higher Ground” (available at Amazon.com).

Wayna’s name (short for Waynab) means “the wine of God or communion,” and her music’s positive vibe will bring soul seekers together.  The singer’s path to Sunday’s 51st Grammy Awards ceremony, however, had an unlikely detour.  After graduating from the University of Maryland at College Park, where she studied English and speech communications, Wayna landed a plumb job as a writer in the White House for the Clinton administration.

Via telephone, Wayna described President Clinton as “gracious and humble.”

The natural beauty always knew, however, that music was her calling.  The record store she passed every day on her way to the White House was a constant reminder.

“I knew from the time I was young that I wanted to be an artist,” she said.  “When I left [my writer job], I never looked back.”

I chatted with the lovely singer prior to the Grammy awards.  Hot Mama Daily readers, meet Wayna (www.myspace.com/waynamusic).

Hot Mama Daily: Where were you when you found out about your Grammy nomination?

Wayna: I was in South Africa for a wedding in a remote area of Capetown, so I wasn’t able to watch TV.  The day after her wedding my friend and I went online and [then] celebrated in the lobby in a nice hotel.

HMD: Did you ever think you’d receive a Grammy nomination?

Wayna: I’m an underdog.  The fact I’m [nominated] with artists who have major labels, it’s a miracle.  It’s proof that if you [hope] for the best, God can make anything happen.

HMD: “Lovin’ U (Music)” is a cover of a Minnie Riperton song.  Are you a fan of her music?

Wayna: [Minnie] shaped my sound and my writing.  I love the purity in her voice and her lyrical content.

HMD:  The song “Billy Club” stands out.  What inspired that song?

Wayna: With “Billy Club,” I’ve heard so many stories from my friends. I also had a bad experience with local police.  I was listening to Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” and wanted to make a modern day statement [but] against police brutality. 

HMD: You’re such a natural beauty.  What are your favorite products?

Wayna: I recently discovered a completely raw honey skin cream that takes away scars.  I also love all of Carol’s Daughter products.  But the best way to stay healthy is to  eat lots of fruits and veggies and drink plenty of water.

HMD: What are your favorite places to shop?

Wayna: Pink November is a shop in DC that sells vintage and designer clothes.  I usually shop with a budget in mind, but every now and then I see something and have to have it. Mustard Seed in Bethesda, Maryland is [another] vintage shop that’s eclectic and affordably priced.

HMD: What do you miss most about Ethiopia?

Wayna: I think it’s the pace of life.  People are connected in a more meaningful way.  There’s a real quality of life there.

Photo credit: The Bloom Effect/Wayna