Hailing from New Haven, Connecticut (USA), Akua Naru's journey to global poet began in an early upbringing in the Pentecostal church. The oldest of three, Naru began attending church with her grandmother as an infant. Steeped in gospel music, it was there, that a young Naru was introduced to a world of black female leaders, from pastor to choir director- who were steeped in African American musical and oratorical traditions. Encouragement from her family to recite scriptures before the church congregation during holidays quickly, however, soon took an unexpected direction when an Uncle, just 3 years her senior, began sneaking hip hop records into the house in defiance of the family ban on secular music. Already enamored with literature and poetry, Naru found in hip hop a power to describe her experiences with unmatched eloquence, so much so that she and her Uncle immediately began performing as a duo at backyard parties around the neighborhood. Her Uncle, an aspiring producer, would supply the beats for a then 9 year old Akua Naru on the microphone.
Growing up in New Haven, a racially divided city, battling gentrification, rising unemployment and violent crime---one particular experience, in which a teenaged Naru saw a woman brutally beaten to the point of near death, left a lasting imprint on her developing consciousness. This incident, among others, would initiate a path of critical inquiry regarding the urban social condition, and the vulnerability of black women, which, along with an interest in history and a commitment to activism, would shape her music and her writings..