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February 1, 2013


Soul/R&B singer collaborates with Bleu, Johnny Lee Schell,
Barry Goldberg, Chris Seefried. Will be a presence at SXSW.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin-based, Alabama-raised singer/songwriter Nakia has a heart that beats to the rhythms of Muscle Shoals soul, pumping blood infused with Stax funk to cells lined with Chicago blues grooves. His vocal talent is the kind that instantly turns listeners into fans — among them CeeLo Green, who invited Nakia to sing on his Muppets Christmas special.

On his new EP, Drown in the Crimson Tide, releasing March 5 on the Something-Music label, Nakia unleashes that voice on six songs he wrote in collaboration with top-tier artists including Barry Goldberg, Bleu, Chris Seefried and Brian West. Three were co-produced by legendary keyboardist Goldberg, whose vast resume includes playing Dylan’s ’65 Newport gig and producing Percy Sledge; and guitarist Johnny Lee Schell, who’s worked with Bonnie Raitt, John Fogerty and Eric Burdon.

It’s the latest chapter in a musical journey that started in earnest when Nakia moved from Chicago to Austin in 2002. After a brief stint in the Small Stars, a tongue-in-cheek lounge act fronted by Fastball’s Miles Zuniga, he formed Nakia & His Southern Cousins, got booked to perform at the 2008 Austin City Limits Festival, and wound up singing with Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings. Alejandro Escovedo heard him at a Rolling Stones tribute, which led to him singing backup on Escovedo’s Street Songs of Love album, and to a second recommendation — this time by producer Tony Visconti — for Nakia to front his own Blues band. So he formed the Blues Grifters. A YouTube video of the band led to The Voice= producer Mark Burnett recruiting him for the pilot, which resulted in his relationship with CeeLo Green .

And those are just some of the musical aspects of his career.

Among Nakia’s non-musical undertakings, he worked at an Apple store, modeled, and was a cavern guide, a show rider (yes, horseback), a record label promo guy (pushing John Mayer for Aware Records) and an actual missionary in Africa.

Along the way, he managed to overcome drug and alcohol addiction and growing up as a declared gay kid in the South. He gets to the core of his experiences, and how he moved beyond them and into a positive place on “Dream Big,” a bluesy mid-tempo ballad co-written with his friend Bleu. The EP’s title, Drown in the Crimson Tide, comes from a line in the song — it’s not just a reference to a certain Alabama football team.

“When you grow up in that area of the world, it is really easy to get drawn into your surroundings and your environment,” Nakia explains. “If you’re not careful, you’ll get sucked into that tide and you’ll drown. My aunt told me if I ever got a chance to leave, I should. She also said that one of the hardest things in life to do is to change your lot.”

Nakia has worked to do just that. In fact, as CeeLo listened to Tide, he told Nakia, “I am consistently impressed by the amount you've been able to accomplish on your own by just rubbing two pennies together.”

Networking hard in L.A., Nakia made connections that resulted in several fruitful collaborations. He co-wrote the funky “Pieces and Castles” and the EP’s big soul-stirrer, the ode to his life partner, “When I Found You,” with Goldberg. “Make Up With a Gun,” a getaway tale that might be at home in a Sergio Leone or Robert Rodriguez flick, was written with Disney hitmaker Archontis. Seefried (Fitz & the Tantrums) collaborated on the groove-filled “Tight.” Juno Award winner Brian West (Nelly Furtado, K’Naan and Bono) had a hand in the closer, the party-hard R&B-funk rave-up “Walking on a Slant.”

“It was really important for me to have this Otis Redding/Fabulous Thunderbirds/Doug Sahm vibe to this song,” Nakia says. “Then we added the horns, and it took it to this whole other level.”

Joe Sublett and Darrell Leonard, a.k.a. the Grammy-winning Texicali Horns, are heard in various spots on the EP, half of which was recorded at Schell’s home studio.

Nakia continues to work with A-list writers, including legendary Motown hit man Lamont Dozier. Turns out Nakia’s earned himself a few famous fans along the way, including Dozier and Stevie Nicks, who floored him with a red-carpet rave before he could utter his own words of devotion.

Hero encounters aside, Nakia is generally regarded as a super cool, affable guy, one who makes friends as easily as he earns fans.




August 17, 2011


Using new exposure and connections to best benefit, Nakia returns to what he does best: writing and singing great soul-steeped music.

AUSTIN, Texas — To millions of American television viewers, Nakia — a semi-finalist on NBC’s hit reality program The Voice — was a new artist. Not so in Texas, where, known for his larger-than-life, soulful performances and ability to connect with an audience, he had won regional accolades and airplay with his EP Playing the Cards and album Water to Wine. He had a regular gig at South Austin’s Saxon Pub with his band the Blues Grifters. Life was good. But a wonderful and unexpected turn of events was about to transpire.

A casting agent for NBC found some performances by Nakia (pronounced nah-kee-uh) on YouTube. They eventually made their way to producer Mark Burnett, who, after watching Nakia’s searing performance of the blues classic “Double Trouble,” insisted that the performer audition for his new show, The Voice, starring Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton.

Nakia’s bluesy rendition of “Forget You” earned him a spot on Cee Lo Green’s team and quickly made him a fan favorite. His show-stopping performances over a period of weeks earned him a spot as one of eight top finalists. Following the show’s finale, Nakia joined the seven other semi-finalists on a coast-to-coast concert tour of theaters.

“Being on The Voice has opened a lot of doors for me and I’ve been working hard to explore all of those options so I make the best decisions about which doors to walk though,” Nakia says. “More importantly, it’s given me access to a lot of new fans who are discovering who I am as an artist. I am excited to connect with them face-to-face on the road.”

After the show was over, Nakia remained in Los Angeles, met and worked with many of the great songwriters he met through The Voice circles, and has begun work on a new album. He will spend much of August and September reconnecting with his fan base in Texas.

“I plan to find ways to keep the fans connected throughout the entire process by incorporating live video streams, videos, blogs and demos via my social networks and official web site.”

Nakia has won notice in circles outside The Voice and Austin. Neo-soul star Sharon Jones said of him, “Nakia is the real deal, y’all. He’s got some serious soul. And that’s what Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings are all about.” Added Michelle Shocked, “I absolutely love Nakia. I love his singing, his songwriting and, most importantly, his soul.” And the Austin Chronicle, at work on a major feature on the artist, declared, “The Appalachian-born belter is one of Austin’s most talented singers.”

It’s been a long road from the Appalachian foothills of Alabama where Nakia Reynoso, the son of a Latino father and a mother of Irish stock, began singing at age five and never stopped. You don’t grow up in the shadow of 3614 Jackson Hwy., the original home of the Muscle Shoals sound, without picking up a dose of the Southern-seasoned soul that coursed through the veins of so many Southern soul performers before him.

Having come to the attention of millions of music fans via The Voice, Nakia will continue performing his authentic music on a larger playing field.

He’ll spend the remainder of summer re-connecting with his home state:

Sat., Aug. 27 AUSTIN Batfest
Sun., Aug. 28 AUSTIN Annual Concert for Bangladesh Tribute
Sat., Sept. 3 SAN ANTONIO Luna Live
Sat., Sept. 24 GALVESTON Shrimp Fest
Sun., Sept. 25 AUSTIN Pecan Street Festival
Tues., Oct. 4 AUSTIN HAAM Benefit, Antone’s

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