From choruses to closings
Many people spend their time daydreaming of becoming something different: a magician, a bullfighter, a musician. Few people have designs on chucking it all, following their bliss, and becoming a real estate agent.
El Verano resident Nomi Yah did just that. After a 25-year career in the music business, that included being awarded a gold record, she traded her bass charts and lyrics sheets for briefcase full of legalese.
In addition to becoming a real estate agent, Yah has written a book about her unusual transition. Called “Notes to Notes,” it chronicles Yah’s early days as an aspiring singer, her time spent as a working artist, a move to motherhood, and the genre switch to becoming a businessperson.
Yah worked as a singing telegram actor, changing into giant rooster or “enormous teddy bear” costumes in the back of a van. She played bass in bands and wrote songs numerous. Yah toured Europe and had a summer beach gig in Spain, played the flute in a marching band and toured the circus route with the Flying Karamozov Brothers.
She hung out with Eek-a-Mouse, and with Jello Biafra and in the early days of the punk scene in San Francisco. She had been “writing and performing lyrics without music” for a while when she heard rap music for the first time in 1982. Yah has worked with Sonoma residents Michael Lounibos and Adam Traum as co-songwriters.
The gold record -- a recording industry benchmark denoting 500,000 units sold -- was earned as a result of her writing the song “King of Kings,” popularized by Christian rock band Petra. She wrote the song when she was only 13, and the story proves that patience is a virtue.
Yah’s best friend’s mother was a serious born-again Christian. The three of them attended a “big music conference in Arcata or Eureka... on the way, I said, ‘let’s write some songs.’”
She describes “King of Kings” as “a very simple” song.
“As young girls, we sang it to the audience, and they all loved it.” she said. About six years later, the Christian rock band Petra recorded it on their album, “Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out.” The record sold very well and earned Yah a gold record as a writer.
In fact, the record by Petra was so successful that the Grammy Awards created a new category called “Christian Rock.” Yah said, “If they had done that one album before, I would have a Grammy, too.”
Despite the rare milestone of having a gold record, she wrote, “Music income trickled in from songwriting, music production and artist coaching… but the income was unreliable.”
A headfirst dive into real estate followed and has been her financial salvation. Her memoir, “Notes to Notes,” is an interesting and easy read, published by Elohe Loans, and is available at Readers’ Books and on Yah’s website, nomiyah.com.