Nivea is coming on like a storm. She doesn’t act like a diva, but that doesn’t mean she won’t be one.
How are you?
I’m great, you?
Fantastic. I know the record label has you really busy. Can you ever get used to it?
Maybe. (Laughs) I don’t really have a choice.
I saw you got a Grammy nomination.
Isn’t that crazy? (Laughs) I still can’t believe it.
When did you find out when it was announced?
I found out that morning. My manager called me and was like ‘guess what? I was ‘right’ and I was like ‘shut up’ and almost hung up on him. I couldn’t believe it.
Could you have expected that things would go like this?
Not at all, especially not so soon. Because at the time when the album was released it wasn’t doing anything, but now its booming. We were working on the next album and then it all started. I didn’t know where it came from, but I’m not complaining.
How did you get so many artists to work on tracks with you?
I have been doing this for a while. Before I signed with Jive I had a twenty something song demo and included “Don’t Mess With My Man”. I’m twenty now and recorded that song when I was seventeen. So I was introduced to producers and artists before I was signed. So I begged them to work with me.
How long was the demo floating around before you got signed?
Not for a few months.
When did you get signed?
I started in the industry when I was fifteen. So all through high school and I graduated then two months after I graduated I was signed.
Did you tell your friends?
No, they didn’t know. I didn’t want to tell them. (Laughs) I went to four different high schools. When I was in twelfth grade I was going back and forth to New York. But we worked it out so I didn’t miss anything and kept up my grades.
Did you keep it from your friends so they…
…Didn’t treat me differently.
When you were writing tracks, were you doing it on your own?
I was starting the process of recording when I was fifteen. I started to learn pretty early from professionals. Then I’d incorporate that into my own writing and singing style. It was a great, long learning experience. That’s what allowed me to put out such a great demo. I co-wrote five of the songs on the album. I have tons of more songs that fans won’t hear until the future.
A lot of people want to be singers or think they are singers, how did you find a manager?
My older sister, I have two older sisters, and her boyfriend knew someone. It’s been going since that very day.
Did you watch American Idol?
I’ve been watching it lately. It’s so funny. I was in the gym and I was laughing so hard. (Laughs) I was crying. I didn’t watch the first season. I never had time. (Laughs) It’s good.
Some of those people seem tone deaf.
Exactly. I think that show about entertaining.
Do you think singing is a gift or a skill?
Both. First and foremost it has to be a gift. It’s a God given thing. I think some come out of the womb singing like me. I’d love to get trained because you can never be too good.
Do you see songwriting as a gift or skill?
Both. I think some people write melodies as easy as taking a breath. Some have strategies. Even with a natural gift you can be skillful at it.
Have the new songs you’ve been working on lately been different?
Definitely. It’s a lot different. I think everyone grows and I’ve gotten better at writing, singing and performing. Its different topics and always write about things close to me. I want people to hear my songs and think that I’m keeping it real, its always realistic.
I hear that women’s voice change even until their thirties…
…Yeah it gets deeper and thicker. My voice has been changing.
What about performing. Did you perform early?
It was completely new. I never participated in talent shows. I was too shy growing up. I just grew into it.
What was the first time you were onstage and what were you thinking?
I was thinking ‘oh my God, oh my God, oh my God’ the whole time. (Laughs)
Was being shy something you had to overcome?
It took me about a year and a half.
It’s funny because I hear it a lot that an artist was or is shy.
It was bad because I’d have to hide my face and turn my back. It wasn’t happening.
You pick the best profession for being shy.
I know right. But my manager used to put me in front of my mom and family and make me sing. So I’d be crying and rolling around saying ‘I can’t do it’. But I broke out of it.
When you were working with artists who were singers were you learning?
You know it. We would be working on one song and I wouldn’t want to finish it. I wanted to come back the next day to keep working on it so I could soak up as much as I could. I wanted to be ahead of the game. It helped. (Laughs)
What do you dream about now?
Doing things I believe I have talent in. I think everyone is multi-talented but we have some things we are better at. I wanted to be a photographer. I love writing, I love to dance and I want to act.
+ charlie craine