Jay Z’s “Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film” just reminded that inspiration is everywhere; not only in the world but in all my fellow artists. Visual, lyrical, musical, dance, performance. We are one.
Ryan Leslie embodies the type of musicianship and artistic direction that appeals to so much of what I see in myself as an artist. His music is art that is universal and as we all heard on Gibberish is beyond language.
I think what appeals to me the most is that he does not see himself just as a lyricist, singer & songwriter but as a well rounded, international creator of art. I love how he allows his talent to pour into other aspects of art. In this case, he tries his hand as film in his Black Mozart short documentary.
It’s shamelessly self promoting and a bit egotistical but amazingly beautiful. It speaks volumes about the discipline, vision, and artistry of this great virtuoso.
Hope you enjoy & find inspiration in this as I did.
Two of my favorites, John Mayer and John Legend, dropped albums in September. Thanks to Spotify I instantly dove into the work of these incredible artists that appear to be in very different places in their lives.
It actually frightens me how much I relate to and love John Mayer; in spite of his controversial KKK penis. John is clearly a tortured and socially awkward soul and some part of me relates to that. I can easily sing all of his albums backyards (with the exception of Heavier Things, outside of Daughters, he lost me on that one). Paradise Valley is a salty sweet treat of heartache, humor and acceptance.
John Legend, on the other hand, has always been more like that awesome distant friend that you only remember you adore when you meet up for drinks. He’s consistently intoxicating with his love filled songs & chords that stir something up in you and that create the ultimate sexy and sophisticated ambience.
I’m tickled by the fact both of their albums dropped the same week. I’m even more surprised by how much I love them equally even though they both awaken completely different feelings in me.
Legend is so in love with Chrissy Tiegen. Love in the Future is the ultimate ode to her and just being young and recklessly in love. I totally get it; those emotions and his admiration of Chrissy. I follow her on Twitter/Instagram and she is clever, passionate, vulnerable, honest and painfully gorgeous. It’s so refreshing to see a beautiful young woman be so dynamic. His selection of her as a wife says great things about him. My only critique of the album is that it’s far too long. All the tracks after the Angel Interlude would have been better on a deluxe CD.
Nyk Picks: Love in the Future (John Legend, 2013)
Open Your Eyes
“Darling open your eyes. Let me show you the light. You may never find a love that’s right.” The 80/20 Rule is just a fact, folks.
All of Me
“Love your curves and all your edges. All your perfect imperfections.”
“Baby, it seems the time is never right. You go left and I go right, it’s crazy but I’m still waiting. If I play my cards my luck’s gonna strike. Until then, there’s the night…”
Stacy Barthe took Anita Baker to another level. I didn’t even know that was possible. Her stylization of “You’re so strong but tender too. You’re my angel” is everything right in the world.
Mayer is on the opposite end of life. He seems to finally be at peace though, with his wandering heart & feet. Other than appealing to my affinity for country music, the painful honesty of being someone who maybe thinks and feels to much definitely spoke to me on this project.
Nyk Picks: Paradise Valley (John Mayer, 2013)
“Dear Marie, can you tell me what I used to be…and If you’re further up the road can you show me what I still can’t see.”
“You’re like 22 girls in one and none of them know what they’re running from.”
Wildfire (feat. Frank Ocean)
“Back in Paris you told me you were suicidal. It’s not a vacation if I lose you to the Eifel. You’re gorgeous but you can’t fly.”
Waiting on the Day
“Waiting on the day. When you’ll love me all the way. When you’ll hang your things & stay.”
Music is scripture for me so these are added verses to the Book of John. Go forth and enjoy…
There are two places that I feel at home; on a stage and in nature. So when I was asked to perform at Safari Park Restaurant in Paynesville, Liberia I was all in.
Safari Park is an intimate setting that brings the outside in via lots of greenery and big beautiful windows. It has one of the best energies I’ve experienced in Liberia.
As I am writing music for my upcoming album I find it equally important to get with a band and have a good ole jam session every now & then. It just does something awesome for your creative juices.
My friend Marjean hooked me up with five young men that are all multiple instrumentalists, artists and know how to really get down. They call themselves the Harmonizer band. They sing with me, dance at their respective instruments and remind me how fun it is to play my voice with other live instruments.
As a performer I always prefer live music; it just breathes and lives like I do. Saturday night had a life of its own. It was like you could almost touch the beauty in the room. I can’t explain how much love, support and encouragement I’m getting from my people. There are no words for that feeling. I am beyond grateful.
I’ll be at Safari Park Restaurant on July 6, 2013. If you’re in Monrovia, come jam with me!
As I get a few days closer to returning to Liberia (I have nine days left in the States), I get more & more excited about getting to work on my first album.
The video below is like throwing fuel on that fire.
Kiss & Make Up is the first video from my upcoming first album (before I decided to chop all my hair off). It was directed by the talented Chase Simmons, styled by my love Carter James and my make up was wonderfully done by the talented Ms. Dominique Doyle. S/O to my leading man
& that kiss that kind of made my knees weak. DJ E Cool, my favorite Nigerian DJ!
Three years ago I fell in love with a musician. In true Gemini form he was more than that; engineer by training, rapper by passion, a beautiful writer by gift & the deepest love I’ve experienced to date. True to the cliche we met on a collaborated track and created our love on many others thereafter.
I am getting ahead of myself, let me give you some if my musical history. I come from a very musical family. I learned how to express myself & how to perform in all parts of my life through music. It is my gift and a part of my calling.
After over ten years of auditions, rejections, growth, denial, victories, uncertainty & a dissolved law suit I’ve come to terms with my blessing and have figured out a way to enjoy and share my gift beyond the goal of platinum albums and sold out tours. More of this of this to come as we get more familiar.
Ok, now back to where we started. This musician touched me, resulting in the change of my stage name to Nyna Touch. The meaning of that name is a whole ‘nother story but I digress. Lately, I’ve been feeling disconnected to this person I created.
As I discussed this with my friend Carter, who has been on this journey with me as a creative director of my life pretty much since we were 15 and is one of my biggest supporters, he put things into perspective. “You don’t need her anymore.”
Church! That was it.
Nyna was an extension of me. She was my Sasha Fierce. Conversely, she enabled me to be vulnerable, to express this love that was changing my life, to be sexy and everything else I was uncomfortable being and expressing as Nykita at that time in my life. She was a moment.
That moment is over. What remains is the beautiful project that I recorded as “Nyna Touch” (hear Portrait 25 here), a Youtube page of performances and videos, love for a very special person that has evolved so naturally and made me a better being and most importantly, Nykita.
A Nykita that needs no one or a name to make me comfortable in my own skin.
I’m heading back into the studio this year to record my first album in Liberia. I cannot wait to hear what that Nykita has to say.
Let’s first acknowledge that my friends are awesome! Upon arrival back into the US they surprised me with Solange Knowles tickets. I was thrilled!
Not so much about Solange (great artist but she’s no Kanye West; I’m dying to see him in concert) but about what she represents. The heavily African influenced costuming. The soul. The great melodic arrangements. She gave me all of it and even had me cutting a rug and breaking a sweat.
The energy in the room was just…magical. The eclectic & painfully artistic crowd (very missed kindred spirits, I haven’t met a lot of those in Liberia since I moved) was loud in spirit, applause and herbs.
Ms. Knowles certainly got all the love she poured out to us in return; including that of Janelle Monae, who introduced her and her phenomenal opening act, Roman GianArthur.
It was a great evening filled with music, love & laughs; you know all the things we need to survive this here life.