To most, the tantalising uniqueness of Nikita begins with the sound of her voice that drives the hips into a swirling frenzy and creates a heat that makes the body drip of sweat. However, the beautiful sensation graced our ears, not with her borderless musical talents, but with the phenomenal story of an artist. As she continues her family’s life-long tradition of serenading the ears of thousands, Nikita has proven to us that dreams, no matter how profound, are nothing more than a challenge waiting to be accepted.
How did this all start?
My first stage performance was at my pre-school graduation. Then I sang through church and NIFCA, danced with Dancin’ Africa, Pinelands Creative Workshop and Ellerslie Folk Chorale. I always knew I wanted to be a performer. I have to sing, I have to dance and that started my pursuit in being the next big thing
When did that big opportunity come for you?
I studied Tourism and Travel at BCC and I got a really good job at Scotiabank around 2007. I would sing at all the staff parties and my colleagues immediately knew that was my dream. My team was like, “We genuinely feel that you belong on stage” and for them to recognise that was a huge eye opener for me. I then went in the office and was like “Guys, I love you. I can see a future here but it’s not my dream. I can’t quit on music because it has never quit on me. Every time I open my mouth I have this amazing ability to sing and that is a blessing.”
You see these amazing performances at the Grammy’s and other Award shows and little me from Barbados [wondered] “How can I do that?” I couldn’t see it happening until Rihanna got signed. Then it was like; ‘Woah! I could be next!’ which started a long, journey of auditions and showcases. Of course the industry is different now. What happened to Rihanna will never happen again. You can get signed from Barbados but how it happened will never happen again.
What genres do you identify with?
I wanted to sing like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. After a while, I became the ‘Ballad Queen’. Any time you needed a ballad sung- call Nikita. Then I did a Pop RnB track called ‘Rising’ that people liked.
[But] when you think about it, it’s like an artist from Texas trying to be a Soca singer. I was in Barbados trying to break out as this RnB Pop Queen. In retrospect I can see why it would’ve been so hard.
What’s the business of singing?
It’s the transition of an aspiring artist to the professional world of singing and the full industry of Music.
“The business”, I learnt on the journey. You have to ask yourself, “What do you want?” Once you’ve identified it, write it down and timeline them. Don’t be afraid to ask and don’t be afraid to hear no. When your talent is recognised, people will take the courage to invest.
I would encourage anyone to study the business especially when it comes to understanding what your rights are and what is owed to you. “Do Your Research!” There are also so many opportunities in this world of social media. You could capitalise on so much more apart from using your voice. Sure it feels risky, but if you continue to play it safe and not be open to taking risks, you can’t grow. And if you don’t grow you die…artistically, mentally, metaphorically, emotionally, and spiritually.
How is your brand defined?
I wanted people to see that there’s no real separation between Nikita the artist and Nikita the person. After I perform, people would say “I had no idea you were this cool, I thought you were super stuck up.” And I’m like nope not all, I am super normal!” I could be your sister, friend, neighbour and someone you can relate to. Every day I put out something inspiring especially when it comes to my women because we don’t get enough of it. It’s only after meeting my fans and more importantly the love I received for just being myself allowed me to hone in on what was special and unique about NIKITA! It wasn’t my image or even my voice, it was simply ME!
The orange hair came as a mistake that I claimed and I just thank God I was brave enough to roll with it. It’s easy for me because nobody really does orange and so it was easy to stand out. I’ll forever be your orange haired songbird!! THANKS SALT!!!! “wink”
Tell us about South Central Team’s involvement in your work.
Richard Haynes was the first person to approach me about doing Soca about ten years ago. I was watching from the side-lines trying to see how I could insert myself into the Soca industry because to me Soca isn’t just about the genre, it is the lifestyle. You have to live and breathe Soca to really give a genuine performance. He then introduced me to some prominent people in the industry and then a move to Trinidad happened thanks to my sister-friend Leah Marville and Machel Montano of course and that started the journey of Soca. South Central started as my booking agent but now a full management team. Correction! This team is like family, they have my back and I have theirs. You need that level of support in this industry!
Do entertainers need a team?
You need people that are just as hungry as you are but you should be the hungriest out of them all because no one wants this dream as much as you. You have to hustle and grow and build a strong backbone to handle anything.
Tell us about your journey as a broadcaster.
Now that one I did not see that coming. I was doing an interview for Baje International three years ago. Richard wanted me to fill in for him and I was like, “Okay, I’ll push the event.” Shortly after, Richard told me it was actually turned into an audition because The Boss was listening and liked the tone of my voice and wondered if I was interested in being a part of the Slam 101 team. I was like, “What are the odds?” I immediately screamed “YES!” That “yes” trumped every “No” I received on my journey and open doors of opportunity were finally surfacing. At Slam101FM, We party together, we drink together, we talk junk together but we hustle and grind hard!
What has been the toughest part of your journey?
Hmmn! They’ve been many tough moments but none like this year, with the controversy surrounding the song ‘Same Way’. When you release a song after spending 6-8 months strategizing and conceptualising videos and you’re putting all your effort into it to being your “big” song for the season; well, you know the story and it was tough. Those feelings of excitement and everyone loving it was clouded by everything that was going on and to pull through all of that was a true test of character. [I was] almost forced to forget Nikita the person. Of course the tears came but when I saw the love and support and fans old and new fighting for me on social media, I knew I had to come back strong. It wasn’t easy but I had to show them I appreciated all of it! I didn’t know I had that level of support. I felt the love, and at the end of the day that is all it is!
What tips would you leave with our readers?
It starts with “What do you want?” You have to know what you want out of it and what’s important to you! I take this business so seriously. I respect it enough to do my research and I expect everyone else to do the same. If you don’t go to sleep and wake up with music on your mind then it’s not for you. Open a book, learn an instrument or attend a writing camp, just do what you have to do, to know what you have to do! You can’t, if you don’t know! Be so prepared that any time an opportunity presents itself, you’re in a position to deliver!!
What’s next for Nikita?
I want to be a bit more involved in charities especially the ones empowering women and our youth or I may even start one on my own. There’s always merchandising but I’m never one to do the expected. I have some ideas though and everyone will know in due course. Of course the music will continue. I’m already talking to writers and producers- genres I wanna tackle from reggae to pop.
Three Fun facts
I love any beach on the south. I have to be in the water- it’s therapeutic.
I have a laugh to die for… or more like a cackle. When you live in a family like mine, you better have the loudest laugh.
I love food. I am a food idiot. Breadfruit. Roast, fried, mashed, creamed. I had breadfruit soup the other day with chocolate, it was so good.