Interview with ...
Nickeishia Barnes


Nickeishia Barnes became popular by taking 2nd position at the televised 2006 Digicel Rising Stars Competition. Evolving in a sentimental register, she is a part of the new generation of artists launched by Donovan Germain.
Return on the beginning of her promising career and her collaboration with Penthouse Records.

(November 2009 - penthouserecords.free.fr)

We know you since your second position in the Digicel Rising Stars 2006. Could you tell us more about this competition and your early years ?
I entered the competition twice, in 2005 and 2006 (which was the successful year for me). I entered Tastee Talent Competition in 1996 as a solo act and placed 4th in the Quarter, then finished up my Sixth Form years at Holy Childhood High School, then I tried again in 1999 with my brother Escobar and his very good friend Nesbeth, we only made it to the Quarter finals though. I used to follow them early morning, late nights to the studios in Kingston especially Anchor by Gussie Clarke to observe and sing a few background vocals, but I was very shy and nervous. We worked with a producer by the name of Horace Murphy, who linked us with Sly and Robbie and they worked with us for a while. The experience was absolutely amazing, being in the presence of these iconic figures and this is where my love grew into aspirations of someday producing my brother Escobar, Nesbeth and other artist from the inner city. However through struggles in Arnett Gardens in terms of gang violence, my brother stopped taking me out in the hours of night and early mornings. I became more focused on my schooling. I completed my studies at the University of the West Indies in Political History & Sociology in 2004, had quite a few losses in my life up to that point (2 of my older brothers were killed in gang war in Arnett Gardens/Jungle). Regrettably my brother Escobar was number 3 and killed in Arnett Gardens as well as Horace Murphy and I pulled further into my music, as it became a means of therapy for me.

You have a certain soulful smooth vocal style. Did you take singing lessons ?
I did do vocal training after Rising Stars and I still every now and again do a few sessions.

What are your main musical influences ?
I am very old school in terms of my musical influences. I can remember knowing each and every Whitney Houston songs (laughs). I listen to Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Beres Hammond, Tracy Chapman and Tony Braxton. Currently I am in love with the artistry of Buju Banton, Junior Gong, Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Alaine, Cherine Anderson, Lady Saw and Rihanna.

You write many love songs. Where do you find inspiration ?
I write love songs because I am a lover of "love". The idea is more fulfilling to me than sadness or sorrow. It is more universal to want to be loved than to desire to be in pain or to be hurt. My inspiration comes from growing up in a very hard situation but having my family so close that it didn't feel so bad to be hungry or have no money to go to school. Right now my love is for life, and the small everyday joys that we as humans get to share with our loved ones and families.

When and how did you meet Donovan Germain ?
It is quite cool the way I met Donovan Germain, he was one of the managers/producers I truly felt inspired by growing up especially because I am a serious Buju Banton supporter. I met him about a year after Rising Stars through my Publicist and Booking Agent Jerome Hamilton (Headline Entertainment). It was a very surreal feeling to be in his office, in a meeting on my future and how would he impact my career as a manager and producer. Honestly though I was quiet the whole time, just observing and taking in the whole event, paste it to memory.

About Buju Banton, tell us about the combination you did with him, "Feels So Good", the recut of Twiggi and Buju released in 1996.
"Feels So Good" is a real smooth, sexy love song, which allows people to get a feel of my vocal versatility added to that is Buju Banton with that warmth and confidence to his delivery.

Is it a real combination recorded together or you added your voice to the version of Buju ?
The combination with Buju Banton is a real collaboration, similar to what happens in most sessions these days. In that both artist mightn't be in the same place but the way of modern technology allows the producer to capture the feel of both artist like they were in the recording both together.

What is Donovan Germain's singularity comparing to other producers ?
Well Donovan Germain is a lover of the old school feel to the vocals of the singer, so he wants a warmth, and a fullness from the vocals. He allows the artist to feel the music and deliver that in studio, which is why I appreciate him so much. It is very difficult at times as a young artist to express to other producers some times the feel that you have and want to deliver to a song, with Donovan he gets it. He strives at all times for the soul of the song, a feel that people can groove too, and he allowed me to capture it in the studio.

Could you tell us about your other songs for Penthouse : "Hold Me" with Anthony Cruz, "Tonight Is The Night" and "Nobody Wants To Be Alone".
Well "Hold Me" was my first song for Penthouse. It was another nice collaboration for me, to be able to work with Anthony Cruz was wonderful, as a vocalist in the booth I learnt about timimg and control from him. Also this was a nice introduction to my musical relationship with Penthouse and Donovan as my manager and producer.
For "Tonight is The Night", I had to learn to sing "soft and confident", it was a bit of a teaser rather than full on confident woman in love...(laughs). This song took a lot out of me in terms of vocal and emotional control of each word.
"Nobody Wants To Be Alone" was very heart felt for me, as it touched a cord in me as a person and it was effortless in terms of recording in the studio, I knew what was expected from me and the song.

Did you record other songs for Penthouse which were not released yet ?
Several songs were recorded, which are original material, however until the projects have been signed off by my producer Donovan Germain, I will be able to speak more on it.

Are you also a background vocalist on stage or in the studio ?
I am now doing my own background vocals, but for other artists not really.

Do you know the new generation of young artists who work with Germain ?
Yes I know them and we keep in touch very often, especially Cameal Davis and I, I guess it's more a female/sistren type of thing. I also admire Romain Virgo being so young and pushing such an incredible package of talent. I hope to produce Cameal and him someday.

To conclude, what are your plans ? I read somewhere that you intended to to enter the world of artist management, concert production and other related field.
What's next for me is fully engrossing myself in the business aspect of music, I love entertainment so I want to learn about it in-depth. Yes I intend to do production, events planning, and artist management, it's a very exciting behind the scenes role (laughs). I think I would be able to pull out the best of the artist that I get the pleasure to work with.


DISCOGRAPHY ON PENTHOUSE RECORDS :

- Hold Me with Anthony Cruz (2008)
- It Feels So Good with Buju Banton (2009)
- Nobody Wants To Be Alone (2009)
- Tonight Is The Night (2008)

listen to these singles :