‘This is my process’: You can find this Brampton health-care worker writing Juno-nominated music in her car

Health-care worker by day, but R&B recording artist by … lunchtime? Angie Akhinagba works in the rehab department at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital, but on her breaks you can find her in her car writing Juno-nominated music.

Akhinagba, also known as the R&B artist Zenesoul, is a first-time Juno nominee. She’s up for traditional R&B/soul recording of the year for her song Love and Be Loved feat. Aaron Ridge.

“I’m still shocked,” she told Metro Morning host Ismaila Alfa outside the hospital this week. “I would have never expected this, this quickly in my career.”

Akhinagba, who was born in Nigeria and raised in Brampton, gave CBC a peak at her writing nook on wheels. “I write music here or on the road as I’m driving,” she said. “Any parking lot, but this is an infamous one.

“Sometimes when I’m at work a melody comes in my head and I’ll just sing it in my voice notes … then I’ll come to my car on lunchtime and start adding the pieces together, freestyling,” she said. 

“The bass just hits properly and I have the sound around me and not just in my ears … so it just makes it beautiful and easy to write to.”

Akhinagba said she draws inspiration from her job as an occupational therapy assistant and physiotherapy assistant for her songs. 

“In rehab, we’re like therapists,” she said. “And I feel like my music is all about healing — all about sharing experiences and just allowing people to see they’re not alone in their experiences.”

Listen | Akhinagba explains the writing process:

Metro Morning7:30First-time Juno nominee Zenesoul on writing tunes in her car during her breaks as an occupational therapy assistant

Angie Akhinagba, also known as R&B artist Zenesoul, is a certified occupational therapist assistant and physiotherapist assistant. She is also a first time Juno nominee. 7:30

Akhinagba says her colleagues at the hospital are very supportive of her music career.

“They are so excited about it for me,” she said about her Juno nomination. “I actually was here when I found out. I was in one of the rehab rooms and I just started screaming.”

Sometimes Akhinagba even gives her co-workers a sneak peak at what she’s working on.

“Sometimes I hear her in the background,” said one co-worker outside the hospital. “She gives us samples here and there.”

Healthcare worker and first-time Juno nominee Zenesoul spends her lunch breaks writing music in her car. (www.zenesoul.com)

“When she sings about love it makes you want to feel that,” said another co-worker, when asked what she likes most about Akhinagba’s music.

“How soulful it is, you can really relate to it.”

Akhinagba will be performing Friday night as part of CBC Music’s JUNOfest.

The Juno awards air Sunday night at 8 p.m. on CBC Television.

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