Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

N.O.A performs at rooftop Live from the Library concert

Miya Tanner
Singer-songwriter Noa Belillti, also known as N.O.A., and accompanying band perform on the rooftop of the Austin Central Public Library on Sept. 26, 2023. This performance was the last of the concert series “Live from the Library.”

Freedom. That’s how singer-songwriter Noa Belillti, otherwise known as N.O.A, describes the feeling of performing live.

Framed by the Austin skyline, Belillti’s balanced vocals drive over a backdrop of strings, piano and bass before they dissipate into the thick Texas heat. Gesturing with a silver-ringed hand and tapping a barefoot heel on a layer of earth-toned carpets, she digs deep into the relaxed groove of snare rim hits, playing off to the futuristic resonance of the violin. The band performs with a collaborative texture, allowing each instrument to solo a soulful riff to the crowd of Austinites, young and old. 

Belillti and her band of individual musicians, including strings player Christina Steele, keyboard player Xavier Davis, bass player Michael Stevens and drummer Michael Longoria, gathered for a one-time, free performance at the Austin Central Public Library on Tuesday as the final installment of the Live from the Library concert series. 

“I hope that (the concert) makes them feel something,” Belillti said. “I just hope that they have some sort of feeling because I’m not intending to control anyone’s experience. I’m intending to share my own experience and share it with people that resonate with it.”

The library might seem like the last venue to host a live band equipped with a set of amps, but Baylor Johnson, the marketing program manager at the Austin Public Library, said the City of Austin wanted a “high profile concert series” to spotlight local artists and the library’s rooftop garden.

“APL has a mission of inspiring all to discover, learn, and create, and live music is a great way to inspire people to do all three,” said Johnson.

Belillti said she felt drawn to the venue as a landmark community space in the heart of Austin. Waiting to unveil her new project with collaborator Longoria, Bellilti immediately took on the opportunity to play an all-ages outdoor show.

“We had talked about maybe (playing) some of this new material live just so we could feel it out,” Belillti said. “After speaking it to the universe, this popped up, and it was the perfect opportunity to do so.” 

Belillti studied voice performance at the Butler School of Music and remembered experiencing instant gravitation to Austin the moment she stepped off the plane for a college visit. Belillti said she felt gratitude for a “diversity of teachers” but admitted feeling a pull away from classical opera and toward R&B, hip-hop and rap. Nevertheless, she said her experience at UT taught her to continue learning in new ways beyond “what we’re naturally exposed to through institutions.”

“I want Austin to know that it’s been very good to me, and in so doing, I’m intending to show my gratitude by being very good to it, by being very good to the people, and by being intentional with my work,” Belillti said. “I want to leave an impression of having a depth of integrity, for my connection to music.”

As Austin continues to develop, Belillti said she hopes the city continues to uplift its artists and creatives, especially underrepresented groups.

“Without the creative heart of Austin, a lot of (the) reasons people move here dissipate,” Belillti said. “Austin can prove that it can shy away from that responsibility, or it can show up and have integrity for the people and the culture that lives here.”

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