There is a new generation of young soca artists making waves and evolving the soca sound, rhythm and beat and Nailah Blackman without a shadow of a doubt has earned her rightful spot in leading the pack to make that happen.
Before bursting on the scene in 2017 and becoming a household name in T&T when she released her first successful break out hit “Work Out” featuring Kes the Band, Nailah was popular in the underground music scene as a neo-pop singer creating her own sound.
It is by no coincidence Nailah has as passion for music, being born into a musically royal family; it is built into her DNA. Nailah is the daughter of Abby Blackman, successful calypsonian, while her grandfather was the late great Ras Shorty I (Garfield Blackman, formerly called Lord Shorty) founder of Sokah Music (presently known as Soca).
In many instances, Nailah uses the spelling ‘sokah’ when writing her lyrics as a tribute to her Grandfather who had a desire for unity across T&T. Ras Shorty I defined the new Caribbean rhythm, soca, where ‘so’ represents the soul of calypso, while ‘kah’ is derived from the Hindi work for “divine”.
In 2018, Nailah had us dancing once again to her fresh enchanting songs, with her releases of, “Sokah”, which paid tribute to her Grandfather’s Legacy and “O’Lawd Oye”, a sultry, soulful record that draws from a distinct lineage of modern African music. In June 2018 Naliah concretised her position in the music world when she was nominated for a BET Award in the Best New International category. Even though she missed out on winning the award, Nailah was humbled and thankful for the entire experience. Closing off 2018, Nailah held her own concert, themed Sokah Origins, which included performances by over 25 artistes from all over the Caribbean including her close friend and musical Jamaican counterpart Shenseea, who she has recorded a few singles with.
Worthy of mentioning is her manager and long-time producer to most of her songs is Anson Soverall, known in the music industry as Anson Pro. Anson always saw Nailah’s potential from inception and decided to help her become a star. It was Under Anson’s guidance Nailah became the breakout star of 2017. Nailah is also managed by Lorraine O’Conner.
Fast-forwarding to 2019 it is very clear there is nothing stopping this 21-year-old sokah star. Nailah continues to enthral and charm us with her signature rhythms, hit after hit. Thus far for Carnival 2019 she has dropped a few songs well. Notably Brave which is her entrance in the power soca arena, written and sung by Nailah, Sekon Sta and Erphan Alves. Brave as Anson explains “It Stands for Bold, Revolutionary Artist of the Vibesy Era. Nailah also released Iron Love which features the Laventille Rhythm Section and was produced by Anson Soverall. Iron Love, with its aesthetically pleasing music video, has been making the rounds on all the radio frequencies as well as tune of choice for Desperadoes going into the 2019 Panorama finals. Other 2019 hits to note is “Games” and “Bang Bang”
Nailah was certainly born with a creative gene. Apart from being a performer and writer, she is also a professional dancer. She can also sew her own clothing and is soon to launch her own fashion line called Sokah—a line formerly owned by her mother.
I recently did a photoshoot with Nailah and had a chance to sit and chat with this soft-spoken, raspy-voice chick as she gave me some insight into her personal life and her experiences thus far. Enjoy!
BRIAN: 2018 was a great year for you. What was the highlight and why?
NAILAH: I had a fantastic 2018 on a whole but the two main highlight for me would have to be the BET Awards. Walking the red carpet, meeting all those celebrities and the second highlight would be travelling to Sidney Australia. I was the first ever soca artist to headline a soca party there. It was definitely a cherry on top for an amazing year.
BRIAN: How is Carnival 2019 treating you thus far?
NAILAH: The Carnival has been treating me great so far, it’s show after show, but I have to say I’m a lot more low key than I was last year especially on social media and that’s because of my hectic schedule of carnival shows. I’ve still been working on so many projects for after carnival- which has given me even more sleepless nights than 2018.
BRIAN: What’s your favourite soca song for the season and why?
NAILAH: I’m not being bias or anything lol, but it would have to be my song ‘Games’. I’m actually so in love with it and that’s because,well, people know I’ve been single for some time now and it’s honestly because all trini fellas love to play GAMES! So it inspired me to write the song along with two other writers Emmanuel Rudder and Dale Ryan and my producer Anson Pro
BRIAN: What about yourself have evolved since becoming a soca star sensation?
NAILAH: So many things have evolved in me since doing soca music I would say, my taste in music, the people I keep around me, how I deal with people, my style, my whole lifestyle.
BRIAN: What keeps you grounded?
NAILAH: I would say my family keeps me grounded, my management and God of course!
BRIAN: What was the inspiration behind your song Iron Love?
NAILAH: Iron love would have to be my second tribute to my grandfather the late great Ras Shorty I also known as Lord Shorty the creator of soca music, he’s the main reason why I decided to do soca music I feel like he had unfinished business with his creation and I wanted to carry the Blackman name strong and proud. For people that don’t know, the chorus of Iron Love is a sample of one of his songs “Cory Iron”, so with production by Anson Pro and Co- Writing by Mical Teja we brought a modern day spin to his song from the 70s.
BRIAN: How you feel about Desperadoes playing your song “Iron Love” for Panorama Finals?
NAILAH: Desperadoes playing my song IRON LOVE for Panorama Finals is honestly a highlight of my carnival season because I just know my grandfather would be so proud to have his music live on in me and see it flourish through our culture. This is what soca is about. And I’m positive that they are going take home the gold.
BRIAN: You and Shenseea seem to be best friends and have a lot of fun together. Tell me about her?
NAILAH: She is a very real person and has an amazing sense of humour. We’re always laughing at the most random stuff and we understand each other so well because we live similar lives.
BRIAN: Do you ever pinch yourself in your quite time when it dawns on you that you are an International Soca Celebrity and how do you feel about it?
NAILAH: I honestly don’t pitch myself because that would be weird lol but I feel like this is just the beginning. I set the bar so high for myself and my career that I haven’t truly been able to celebrate my achievements, I just keep working towards that international success for me and my music, for soca and for Trinidad and Tobago.
BRIAN: What’s Next for Nailah? What is in the works for the rest of 2019 after Carnival?
NAILAH: I’m working on my first official LP album which has a lot of major collaborations and singles coming. But it’s super hush-hush so that’s all I can share
BRIAN: What do you have to say to your haters?
NAILAH:I tell all my haters I love them because the keep people talking about me and no publicity is bad publicity
BRIAN: What you want tell your fans and supporters?
NAILAH: I want to say thank you so much for holding on to me and my music and making it a part of your life. I’d never be anywhere without y’all. The army is strong, fierce and independent. NaiArmy to the world!
About Brian -
Brian has a passion for everything fashion and public relations. With a resume spanning over 10 years of experience, he has worked with a number of brands, talent and personalities. Brian is professionally qualified in Public Relations and Events Management and his name in the local fashion fraternity, is synonymous with styling, creative direction and model management. He enjoys writing and sharing his thought on fashion, entertainment, lifestyle and beauty.