Oftentimes, the glare reflected from the mainstream's smoke and mirrors has the tendency to cloud a singer's true ability, her range, even. Just imagine listening, really hearing, a voice rather than just getting caught up in a tight beat and studio arrangements. Well, it's about that time.
Enter, Na'sha. (Pronounced Nay-sha)
On her debut album, My Story (Pure Records), Na'sha, just 23, takes her listeners on a 15-track ride through her life's journey – from relationships to the struggles, and triumphs, of making her dreams flourish. Produced by an array of hitmakers – think Scott Storch (Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Terror Squad), James Poyser (Common, Jill Scott, Leela James), Sting International (Shaggy), and R&G, the latter with whom she's been recording since she was 16 – the album is, simply, her testament, the good and the bad.
First up is the club-banging lead single "Fire," which was produced by Sting International and remixed with Shaggy. When she sings, "blaze it and pass it up," Na'sha, who knows a thing or two about pop- locking, is talking about the transfer of heat, via dance, streaming from the DJ booth. On "Gotta Move," a laid back, mid-tempo track, Na'sha lets it be known that it's all about her tonight. She's not trying to get "holla'd at" because she's enjoying her own company. Rather than cope with the static of the club, she's heading to the lounge with her girls, to just chill. Then she flips it, with some help from Shaggy, with "What U Waiting 4." "It's the sexiest song on the album," Na'sha says. "It's more of an insinuation than anything, but everyone can make their own judgments."
If she had to name a favorite among the set, it would be "Momma." "That song is just straight R&B," she notes, "and it takes you back to those first Aretha Franklin songs. It's about a relationship gone bad, the one that your momma warned you about, and now you've found yourself in love with someone who doesn't love you back." When she sings, "I'm a queen but he took my crown," the echo of her breaking heart resonates loud and clear. Not surprisingly, "My Story," the title track, is among the most personal and inspirational. In short, she tells the tale of a rebellious girl from the 'hood with "big dreams and small pockets" that opens doors she once thought to be beyond her reach.
Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, Na'sha (Natasha Watkins), got her first taste of music when her mother enrolled her in the junior choir at the age of 5. While her home was filled with gospel music, she also had her ears wide open to the sounds of Whitney Houston. "My mom would wake up and put on CeCe Winans and the Mississippi Mass Choir," she remembers. By the time she turned 7, she fell in love with words, courtesy of Maya Angelou, and soon began writing her own poems. "I used to be fascinated by 'roses are red, violets are blue' and the rhythm and rhymes of words," she admits. Her words became poems which soon transformed themselves into songs.
Just two years ago, Na'sha was clocking in 9-to-5 at a local bank and spent her off-time seeking out management and recording a demo which eventually found its way to industry types in New York and Miami. After enduring her fair share of false start- and-stops at major labels, she signed with Pure Records and headed south to jumpstart her career. "As soon as I got my deal, I left my job, packed up my car and drove 22 hours to Miami," she says of her relocation. "I started writing new songs the day I arrived."
Ask her and she's bound to say that she's a songwriter, first, and then she's a singer, a soul singer who appreciates all kinds of music from pop to R&B and everything in between. "You have to learn how to be an artist, but when you write a song, it's just you, the pen and paper and you let if flow. If I hear a track I love, no matter the genre, I can write to it," says Na'sha, who penned 14 tracks on the album. "Sometimes I write a song for myself, then I'll think that it might be better for someone else. I can't wait to write songs for other artists."
So, what does she want listeners to feel when they hear her music? "I want people to experience every emotion that I went through when I recorded this album," she says. "Nothing has ever come easy for me, and I've learned so much about myself and this business. I used to feel like I wasn't in my lane, but I've finally gotten to the place where I'm living my dreams. This is my destiny."
Na'Sha Official Website -