If you've heard of Austin-based singer Nakia, it might have been from his stint on The Voice last summer, when he reinterpreted Cee-Lo's "Forget You." His voice is a force of nature, raised on soul and blues, and of course it turned heads. He made it to the quarter finals before being voted off, but that was enough to magnify his songwriting career, which has been in motion for a decade, and put him in the national spotlight.
"As soon as I left The Voice, I immediately began working with songwriters out in L.A., and then started working those tunes out with my band back in Austin," he says. "After meeting with lots of labels and managers, I signed with Ron Stone, a legendary manager who really understands me and believes in my voice and what I am trying to do musically."
He's currently recording a new album to follow up 2009's excellent Water to Wine, using PledgeMusic, which connects the artist and the audience through a bit of creative commerce. In preview of his show at AllGood Cafe on Friday, June 8, we asked Nakia what five songs are influencing his songwriting right now.
1. "I'm Ready" by Muddy Waters Willie Dixon wrote this one, but Muddy's version is how I came to know the tune. Classic, mean, drunken blues.
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2. "Blue Medley" by Joe Cocker This track off his Mad Dogs and Englishmen live album features some great fantastic soul tunes done up Cocker style, and with Leon Russell leading the band it really hits a nerve with me every time I play it.
3. "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" by The Four Tops I had the chance to write with the legendary Lamont Dozier, one of the writers of this tune, and it changed everything about how I go about writing songs. Before I met with him, I listened to every single cut I could find, and this tune really stuck in my head. I love it!
4. "Philadelphia Freedom" by Elton John Elton says he wrote this song for Billie Jean King, but my momma swears he wrote it for her, about me, since she used to listen to it while she was pregnant with me. I've always loved the tune, but as I was writing songs for the record, I began hearing bits and pieces of it in my head, so I pulled it out and listened to it along with a bunch of older Elton tunes. You really can't beat them.
5. "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" (main title) by Ennio Morricone This might seem odd to throw in the mix now, but once you hear the record you'll get a better idea of where I am coming from. This whole soundtrack is a masterpiece, but the main title has always spoke to me on a deep level. There's something both sinister and redeeming about it and that really appeals to me as a songwriter and a storyteller.