After the 2014 release of This Is My Hand and a 2015 tour, My Brightest Diamond (aka Shara Worden), 44, returned home to Detroit, changed her legal name to Shara Nova and embarked on a rebirth that shaped her fifth album, A Million and One. “I’m the one-off queen,” says Nova of her infrequent releases. “It’s less clear when cycles begin and end.” The artist shares key moments that led to her return.
“I got a divorce — it wasn’t dramatic. I got married super, super young. The process started with This Is My Hand, but [it was official] when I got home. [I then explored] this idea of, ‘What does it mean to feel like there’s a death and a rebirth?’ A lot of people resent this idea of Detroit having a rebirth, but there’s a big shift.”
“Going back to my parents’ name [after the divorce] didn’t feel right. A friend of mine was looking through a book on space and saw the word ‘nova’ and said, ‘What about that?’ I didn’t realize that the Latin meaning is ‘new,’ and ‘Shara’ is a verb of ‘singing’ in Hebrew. I like that the name meant ‘new song.’ So I made it official.”
“I began looking back on my relationship with Detroit radio as a teenager. In the early ’80s, there was this obvious relationship between punk and soul and psychedelic funk in Detroit, so I leaned into that. The White Stripes were a big influence. I stripped away the bells and whistles of my past work and got to a more raw space.”
“By chance, I met the producer The Twilite Tone [Kanye West, Gorillaz], and he turned the music on its head. I wrote ‘A Million Pearls’ in response to meeting him. I realized I was this pearl sinking down to the bottom of the ocean, but that all the other pearls down there are also quirky, that I’m not alone in this desire to be special.”