Most of the Zim sound that is making rounds on national radio and our playlist is the type that just makes you jump and dance your problems away. This is true for the two trending genres of hip hop and Zim dancehall which are doing quite a stunning job of keeping us on our feet. Sometimes you just want to relax and have some soothing music that will touch the right spots of your heart. This is what NIA is here for, the princess of Afro Soul whose mission is to tickle your soul on her journey to fulfilling her purpose through music. We caught up with her and had a brief chat about heritage, music and future plans.
Having 3 syllables for a stage name is very unique and usually comes with a lot of hard work and accolades, how did you come up with yours?
Laughs in hard work and accolades. My stage name came up unexpectedly, I happen to be named after my aunt whose name is Nyasha, she stays abroad and one time she was telling us how people cannot pronounce her name and she has resorted to using her second name. We laughed about how Nya is pronounced as Nia me being curious about random things decide to check the meaning. To my surprise I found out that Nia means Purpose in Swahili and I fell in love with the meaning. My prayer is to be everything God created me to be and I believe music is part of my purpose in life. The name fit perfectly with whom I am and the fact that I always want to make music with a purpose.
Many artists change their stage names along the journey; do you see yourself subscribing to this trend in the future or its Nia forever?
I would like to stick to Nia, I don’t think any other name would describe me better.
Your sound can be categorised over broad range from jazz to rnb or even contemporary. What genre do you think your music falls under?
My sound is definitely inspired by a whole lot of genres to be honest. I feel my sound falls under Contemporary Afro Soul.
What’s your process from song writing to actually performing it?
My song writing process starts with a melody and then the lyrics to fit in that particular melody depending on my mood, emotion or what has inspired me in that particular period of my life. My songs come from the struggle of trying to sort out my emotions and at the same time the emotions I observe, societal norms and words unspoken. We all go through similar emotions and struggles the purpose is to heal, grow, learn and let go.
After I have written a song the next step is to play it and get used to it, then I can perform it.
How many instruments can you play and which ones would you love to learn? (Have you started learning them?)
I can play the guitar and a little of the mbira and bass. I have started learning these instruments I am mostly comfortable playing the guitar. I would love to continue learning these instruments and perfect my skills, I really love the sound. I would add the piano to the list.
You’ve been a backing vocalist and also do your own songs at shows, what’s your relationship with the stage and how do you prepare yourself for the audience?
I enjoy being on stage, when backing it is less pressure and a whole lot of fun. When performing my own songs it is a lot of pressure and most fulfilling, it makes my heart smile to share a part of who I am, tell my story and express myself. It is an amazing feeling however fear is always present and I get nervous. I prepare myself by making sure I am actually prepared for the show that means I’ve had enough time to rehearse, praying is one thing that really helps calm me down, drinking warm water helps my vocals before a show and after that I am good to go.
When it comes to my afro, ever since I learnt how to manage my hair I got really comfortable and I appreciated it more and it has been my favorite crown. My love for head wraps comes from my love of color and African print. I am African and hope people see that when they look at me and what better way to show that through the crowns I wear. As a creative I believe it is part of my purpose to teach others that being African is a beautiful thing and I am proud, that is how I express myself.
You have this fire song you are working on and only need a verse and a producer, who do you call and why?
Locally for a verse I would call Dr Oliver Mutukudzi,I mean who wouldn’t want to sing with a legend. For a producer I would call Reverb7, I have always wanted to work with him, I love house music. Internationally I would call Masego for a verse and production because he is insanely talented in every way.
Prudence Katomene, Zama Jobe, Lauryn Hill, Masego
What changes would you like to see in the music industry?
I would like to see more business ethics in the music industry. It does not cost a thing to be honest, respectful, considerate and appreciative especially when it comes to women in the industry.
What is the plan for 2019?
To make more music and be consistent.