Millions of television viewers saw Nakia (pronounced nah-kee-uh) make a splash as a quarter-finalist on the hit reality competition “The Voice.” But the openly gay singer-songwriter was already a star in his native Texas, where he’d garnered regional accolades and airplay with his soulful performances.
On the vocal competition “The Voice,” Nakia’s talents earned him a spot on Cee Lo Green’s team and quickly made him a fan favorite. He eventually came in seventh on the show.
Nakia talked to PGN about his heightened profile and what fans can expect when he comes through town for a performance at Tin Angel.
PGN: How has being on “The Voice” affected you career as a musician?
N: It certainly has changed a lot of things. My visibility is a lot higher and the exposure is priceless. But it also gave me access to fantastic songwriters and the ability to be able to interview a lot of great managers, and I ended up hiring a fantastic manager because of that. So it certainly has opened a lot of doors. I spent a lot time trying to figure out which one of those doors I wanted to walk through.
PGN: What has it been like working with Cee Lo Green?
N: Cee Lo is fantastic. He’s definitely on the top of his game. The best way I can put it is like spending time with a musical Buddha. He’s done so much and he’s been a part of so many types of music. With all the years that it’s taken him to get where he is, there’s a great deal of wisdom and knowledge he’s able to impart. You really have to cherish that and keep it close by. He was in at the Austin City Limits festival and asked me to sing with him in front of 55,000 people. He’s been very gracious and supportive.
PGN: At what point on the show’s run did you know that things were going to be different for you?
N: From the time they started airing the commercials. Once the buzz for the show was cemented and the reviews came in, it began to hit me. I felt like I was part of something unique and special from the get-go but, once the rest of the world started to see it, that’s when I knew this was a real good time to gain some exposure, hopefully see some sort of payoff for all the work that I’ve done.
PGN: Have there been any downsides to gaining that much exposure that quickly?
N: The only thing that can sometimes be negative is the people who maybe don’t understand how shows like that work — or the ones that really do understand how show like that work. Everybody has an opinion whether it be a blog or a friend or somebody on the street, and they want to talk to you about it and tell you their way. Sometimes it can be negative because they have strong opinions but I feel like I’ve done a really good job of reaching out to people who have tweeted negative things and found a way to put that in a positive light. So there hasn’t been a downside to it yet.
PGN: Shows like “American Idol” at some point start becoming all about the private lives and the sexuality of their contestants. Did you ever feel like there was that level of personal scrutiny on “The Voice”?
N: They were concerned about what our voices sounded like and if we were good performers. It was all that mattered. It was never a matter of who we were as people. They were very focused on the talent aspect of the show and they wanted people who were colorful and had great personalities.
PGN: When you come through Philadelphia, will you be performing solo or with a band?
N: I’ll have my band with me, The Blues Drifters, that I play with here in Austin every week. It’s going to be a great night of music and a lot of fun.
PGN: What are your plans for the future?
N: The main thing I’m focused on is writing so we can get a record together and hopefully put out a single sometime in January or February. The touring will continue along the way and, by the time March rolls around, we should have a full-length record out.
Nakia performs 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10 at Tin Angel, 20 S. Second St. For more information, visit www.nakia.net
or call 215-928-0770.