Princess of Soca. Afro-Pop Soca Sensation
There is a resurgence of Soca through the lens of the new generation, and we have witnessed the evolution of the music being offered through bold and exciting melodies. Innovative efforts have reshaped the landscape of the Caribbean music industry, and the genre continues to advance in new and electrifying ways.
Effortlessly positioning herself as a contributor to this progress and a leader in the industry through her eccentrically melodic tunes and magnetism, is Trinidadian singer, song-writer Nailah Blackman.
Break It Down – Nailah’s love of music runs deep, as she shared that she has been singing since she was able to speak! She entered her first calypso competition at age 7 and commenced her professional career at age 11. Her entire family is musically inclined, and normalized music in young Blackman’s upbringing. Several members of the Blackman family are musical trailblazers and have made incredible contributions to Soca and Calypso music. Nailah’s mother, Abbi Blackman, is a renowned Calypso artiste, with many hits under her belt, while her grandfather is legendary Trinidadian singer, Ras Shorty I (or Lord Shorty), the father of Soca himself!
It is safe to say that music and artistry is in her blood, but in this male dominated industry, nothing has been handed to Blackman, who has worked extremely hard for her success.
The Come Up (Crowning the Princess of Soca) – Nailah emerged on the scene in 2016 and debuted “Workout” in 2017, a duet with international Soca artiste, Kes. “Workout,” which took Blackman to the finals of the 2017 International Soca Monarch competition, is an up-tempo and danceable track, that quickly gained popularity and is still a fan favorite today.
Daring to be different, Blackman, showcasing her electric sound, released another hit in 2017, “”Bailah Mami,”” which was produced by her manager, Anson Pro Soverall. Following her 2017 breakthrough, Nailah released some of her most popular and notable songs in 2018, which included “O’ Lawd Oye”, and her original bad gyal anthem, “Baddish,” which featured international Dancehall artiste, Shenseea.
Nailah’s sound, influenced by the melodies of her childhood, brings together the rhythms of Soca, Calypso and Gospel music, while also infusing elements of Pop, Afro Beats, Reggae and R&B. I refer to it as a “musical gumbo; a mosh pit of goodness.” Boasting a voice so sweat, magical and sultry, Nailah captivates her audience, exhibiting raw and profound talent. Blackman, deemed “an exciting new voice on the Soca scene,” has blazed many stages, delivering powerful performances and incredible energy to audiences worldwide. Her appeal is also unmasked in her stunning beauty and vibrant flair, owning her sense of style and making waves within the fashion industry. (Fun Fact – Nailah designs and creates many of her outfits)
Her international success led to her nomination at the 2018 BET Awards, under the category of “Best New International Act,” which was a viewer’s choice award. Despite the effort of her fans, in the Caribbean and worldwide, Nailah was not awarded winner. However, being recognized for her hard work, being nominated and the experience of being present at the awards, was victory in itself.
Living Her Truth, Baddish! – Self-assured, unfiltered and not afraid to take chances, Nailah confidently pushes the limits set for women, through her impactful presence that stems from her energy, personality and her organic aura. She fully embraces and represents her culture, making no apology for the essence of who she is; a high-energy, soulful entertainer, who oozes sex appeal! Nailah lives by the words of her Baddish song lyrics, “Thick, Brown, Black-boned, baby show it off!”
The sways of her hips, that matches the rhythm of the beat, and her garments, which show her womanly curves in a rhythmic and profound celebration of the divine woman, is an expression of her boldness and sensuality.
Nailah has commanded the right to be center stage and valiantly holds that space, showcasing her culture and the history that exists in her DNA. She brings a purity to the music, being true to herself, not conforming to societal norms, while paying homage to the artistes who came before her and paving a path for the future generation.
The Music – Nialah released her debut album, Sokah in 2018, which featured the single “Sokah,” paying homage to her father in the beginning of the official video. Nailah dabbled with Reggae music, releasing the song “Dangerous Boy,” featuring world-renowned Reggae artiste, Taurus Riley. The following year, in 2019, Nailah released “The Reel,” a 7-track, multi-genre EP that really showcased her versatility. Her first single “Sweet Loco,” which some describe as an Afro-beat and Soca fusion, ripped the airways and quickly grew popular amongst her fans.
Nailah’s music led her to prestigious stages such as Olympia in Paris, Soca in Japan – a 4-day Soca festival, and concerts in Switzerland and Amsterdam. She has performed in countless concerts in the US and the Caribbean, and she hopes to visit new places post pandemic.
Sweet & Loco – Nailah’s hard work and dedication has opened so many doors since she embarked on this musical journey. She attests much of her success to her family supports, a dynamic team and notably, her manager, Anson Pro Soverall, who she had the pleasure of meeting at age 17.
Because of her commitment to greatness and her drive to excel in her career, Nailah received the Cultural Ambassador Award from the New York Senate during New York City’s Labor Day Celebrations in 2018.
In 2019, she was invited to perform with musical legend and Soca icon, Calypso Rose and international artistes, Machel Montano at Coachella, one of the largest and most notable annual music and arts festivals, held in California. The festival highlights popular and well-established artistes, as well as, showcasing emerging artistes and groups. It was an honor for her to share space with two icons, given that Calypso Rose also inspired her musical journey.
Nailah has won “Best New Soca Artiste” at Your View Awards in Jamaica and “Groovy Soca Female of the Year” at the International Soca Awards in St. Lucia. She looks forward to the reinstatement of competitions in the future.
The Grammys – Recently, Nailah was invited to join the Recording Academy, which is responsible for the Grammy Awards. The nomination was placed by Universal Republic Records. She shared that it was always a goal to win a Grammy and the invite is the first step towards that goal. She has the ability to vote for another artiste to be a nominee, and she can be nominated by others.
Blackman has blurred the lines for strong mainstream crossover appeal across all genres, while championing the Soca sound; truly encompassing and embodying the definition of a musical powerhouse.
Claiming Her Space – Nailah hosted a concert series “Sokah Origins,” in December 2019, which blended experiences from her worldwide travels. The concert was hosted by Hennessy Carolina and featured a star-studded cast with performances by Voice, Patrice Roberts, Trinidad James, Destra, Sekton Sta and more.
Amid the pandemic, Blackman recognized the importance of maintaining a connection with her fans, maintaining her brand’s visibility, and most importantly, lifting the spirits of her supporters during the most unprecedented times in history. Blackman hosted a virtual concert, which began with an exhibition of her many musical talents, namely a guitar rendition. The virtual show was well-executed, with dancers performing dynamic dance routines, legendary pannist, Len Boogsie Sharpe, offering the sweet sounds of steelpan music, and special performances from several of her Soca colleagues.
Nailah has shared the stage with legends, truly and authentically existing in the same ecosystem as Soca greats. She is a part of that foundation and has created her own space. She is the trail that has been blazed and the baton that will carry into the next generation.