‘Welcome To Me:’ Nia-Chanel
By Jhantu Randall
Singer-songwriter, Nia-Chanel’s music on “Welcome To Me,” is rather unassuming which makes the EP project that much more refreshing which can be seen her day job, working as a florist in Tacoma, WA where she spends mornings putting arrangements together with eclectic jazz music playing over the speakers giving the shop a calming atmosphere.
Calm is something that everyone around the world is working on, especially due to the world continuing to be on some form of lock down and self-quarantine for over a year now. This summer, businesses and activities are beginning to open at a tortoise’s pace. In the entertainment industries at large, many artists had to learn how to be relevant during the pandemic and sometimes even switching up their normal way of doing things by focusing on marketing and new projects. As they worked on building up their passions and completing some goals that they had little time for before the pandemic.
With this idea in mind, people are starting to notice the beauty of a sunny day that stands out from the chaotic rhythm of being in constant motion to fulfill a daily grind and paying attention to artists like Nia-Chanel as she repurposes herself as an artist during these times. Listening to her opening track entitled, “Chalissa (feat. Skyler Jones & Jakob E. Ramirez)”, one can feel connected with the mood it was crafting. The light and thoughtful strumming of the guitar strings accompanied by the musical voices casually talking solidified this summer’s vibe. The jazzy vocal delivery at times transports you to another place, a place where modern neo-soul, hints of delta blues and songwriting of the early 1970’s merge together.
It was during this track a question was posed to Nia-Chanel regarding what lead to her move from Texas to Washington? For the most part Nia-Chanel desired a change of pace, so 2021 lead her to Tacoma where the surroundings were a welcomed change from what she had grown up around. The city gave Nia-Chanel the opportunity to pursue music full time in a place that is known to historically shape an eclectic array of talents and harness their gifts.
The next track “Cycles” is a track that offers the listeners a soft, wavy melody, while Nia-Chanel’s lyrics dive into introspective subject matter. The duality of how Nia-Chanel’s voice flows along the melody; complimenting the different tones will make the listener want to leave this track on repeat. “OTC (feat. Skyler Jones)” is an immediate transport into a smokey club met by a voice lifting you to an ethereal headspace. “Hypnotized” shows the southern influence in Nia Chanel’s catalog. The production altogether is reminiscent of the sound that makes Outkast so iconic. It is also here in this track where Nia Chanel gives hints of both Erykah Badu and Ari Lennox in her cadence and delivery. The closing track “Nia12” which features saxophonist Trenton Whitehead is a personal favorite. “Nia 12” is pure raw honesty blended with an incredible jazz arrangement played by Whitehead, elevating this to those times in your life where you save memories and keepsakes. The only criticism that can be offered, is the duration of the track which solidifies and completes the entire album.
To find a project that can make you forget the monotony of the daily grind and allow you to release and be free for just under a half hour is not only a rare find but like the artist herself, working as a florist, is essential during these times. So on this unusually warm July summer night, get in your car, roll down the windows and rise with the vibe as you drive as Nia-Chanel welcomes you to her world.
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