Early Sign of Nia’s Uniqueness
As a teacher, you walk through the halls of suburban Chicago’s Thornwood High School and you notice the shy kid in the cafeteria. Although you know them as quiet, you see the uniqueness in them. It’s that uniqueness that later catapults them into a career of singing and traveling. This is commonly seen in films. However, this is really the start of the journey of Chicago raised Nia, a singer/songwriter with a powerful mix of hip-hop, soul, and jazz.
“I’ve always been a bit of an outcast in school. I wasn’t always the popular kid, but it turned around when one of the teachers saw the talent inside me,” Nia said. “That uniqueness helped connect me to other people.”
A Youthful Nia Embraces her Uniqueness
While many others were joining extracurricular sports activities, Nia spent joined cheerleading, drama, and choir where she gained the confidence to start expressing herself artistically. She started to mix CDs and produce her own music. She says even her rejections are translated into her music as a way to show that underdogs can rise above. “Even in middle school, the teacher let me lead the choir and we performed songs from the movie “Sister Act” with Lauryn Hill, who is one of my favorite artists. Some of those notes were hard to do, but I managed to reach them.”
Having moved to Chicago from Iowa at 8 years old, she says that she loved the city as she got involved in the arts and culture. “There are just more artsy things you can do around here. The only dislike now is the cold weather,” she said laughing. “But hey, it comes with the territory.”
Product of a Great Musical Legacy
As the granddaughter of jazz singer Lyn Hollins, Nia’s career began out of high school as she began singing and traveling with her a band someone in her church introduced her to. She toured with the band as hype girl vocalist to McLyte, and went on to perform with Roy Ayers, Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, Malik Yusef and many more. For 12 years she has been performing professionally; all of this is leading up to her upcoming EP, “Break,” planned for release this summer.
This is one of her three ideal projects. “Break” especially excites her because it shows how she transitioned from her first record in 2006. “A lot has changed since my first project. It shows my transition in writing and in performing…[and] talks about my journey, my experience, and they get to know my process and struggle. It will be 100 percent me.” Nia earlier music video, “Gymshoes”, also features actress Tiffany J. Curtis of the Emmy winning Chicago based show “The Awakening” sheds light on living a purposeless life full of only material gain and just wasting time. She also released a Christmas Project last winter.
Nia’s Passion for Arts in Chicago
Besides performing in the arts, she is passionate about the city. She has leveraged her success to help others. She has raised money for the homeless. Nia has also spoken at school assemblies about the music business and overcoming personal troubles. Nia advises those who are trying to get into music to first ask themselves why they want to do it. She says that you should do it because you love it and not just for the money. “If you’re not affecting someone in a good way, it is going to be more difficult if that’s the only reason that they’re doing it” she said.
As she prepares for the summer, Nia wants to encourage other aspiring artists to continue to follow their dreams and to keep moving. “I would like to tell them to keep going. I was faced with challenges, but I kept striving to get to where I am today. Trust who you are; I wouldn’t have been able to be able to move forward if I stopped what I was doing. You are who you are for a purpose.”
You can check out more of Nia’s music here.