You must make sacrifices. I have had to disconnect myself from the world and lock myself in the studio to find my calling. I quarantined before the mandatory quarantine. I did not have much of a social life during that time.
As a part of our series about music stars who are making an important social impact, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Nakkia Gold.
Nakkia Gold is a singer, songwriter, and producer signed to Saban Music Group. Nakkia generated global buzz with her single, “Justice (Get Up, Stand Up),” featuring Bob Marley and Wiz Khalifa. Her single is gaining traction as the anthem for several social reform campaigns.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?
I grew up in a single-parent home in South Los Angeles, known as The Crenshaw District. My mother worked several jobs to keep our family afloat. Often that meant my brothers, sister, and I would spend a lot of time unsupervised. I remember it being difficult for us to deal with the challenges of growing up in a neighborhood where gangs and drugs were prevalent. Luckily, my mother instilled strong values in all of us that served as a compass in my life.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
My love for music started when I was a child. Going to church was the cornerstone of our family life. My mother always made sure we did not miss church on Sundays. The choir was my favorite part. I remember singing along to all the songs. At times, I would be so into the music that I would zone out. My mother took notice of my interest in music and bought me a karaoke machine for Christmas.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What was the lesson or take away that you took out of that story?
During my first performance, I was so nervous that I mispronounced Wiz Khalifa’s name. The performance was for DASH radio, so shout out to Skee for looking out. The main takeaway from that experience was rehearsal is vital! If you over-rehearse, you leave little room for mistakes.
What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?
I would recommend that young people keep going. Do not allow anyone to dictate where you want to be in life. We all hold power over our destiny!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
One of my favorite quotes is, “Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.” It is something my mom instilled in me as a child. I remember the engraving on the glove compartment of her car as if it were yesterday. She reminded me that things in life do not come easy, and nothing is a given. If you work hard, then you can overcome anything. We went through some challenging times as a family, I am sure it was extremely tough on her as a single parent, but she kept pushing forward for us and led us by example. Years after her passing, the lessons she instilled in me continue to guide me and shape me.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
If there is one person I am grateful for in my career, I would say it is Lamont “Jinxz” Webster, my writing partner. We have known each other for over ten years but did not always stay connected. We reconnected three years ago and have not looked back. I credit him for getting me back into music. We have written hundreds of songs together. These songs opened the doors to where I am now.
Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, how are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?
I’m using my success to inspire and uplift the world. Creating opportunities for the less fortunate and changing the misconception about inner-city children is my goal. We need to invest in educating folks in marginalized communities. To do so, I have been working with organizations like ACLU, Hip Hop Caucus, National Urban Network, and others to create opportunities for folks who are growing up under similar circumstances as I did.
Can you tell us the backstory about what originally inspired you to feel passionate about this cause and to do something about it?
As an artist, I have a platform. My platform inspired me to sing about justice because it is what the world needs right now. I was like, “How long do we have to fight to get justice?” I felt obligated to be that voice for the people.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions but never manifest them. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and take action for this cause? What was that final trigger?
A trigger moment for me was when I ruptured my Achilles and found out I would be unable to continue dancing. I was a professional dancer and educator at the time. I taught grade school children acting, dancing, and singing. My doctors were telling me I would never run, jump, or be able to squat again. I quickly realized I had to pivot and find another outlet to express my creativity. Music took the place of dancing. After I underwent two reconstructive surgeries, I would spend every day at the studio writing. One of the most vivid memories is having to go up a set of stairs every day in crutches to get to the studio.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
I have always had a big heart, and giving is more gratifying than receiving to me. I was a performing arts teacher. The program I taught was an alternative to physical education. A student was disruptive in other classes but one of the best performers in my class. Some of my colleagues would come to me and ask for advice on dealing with his disruptive behavior. I explained that it was a matter of listening to the child and taking a genuine interest in what he may be going through. We figured out how to use my class as an incentive if he performed well in his other classes. I would sit with him and help him out with his work in other classes. The time I invested in him changed his experience in school. He became one of the top academic performers in school and a star football player. We chat from time to time.
Are there three things that individuals, society, or the government can do to support you in this effort?
Listen to my music and the message it conveys, follow me on social media @NakkiaGold, and share my music and story with your friends.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. You will not get much sleep. I have gone days without sleep because I have worked all night in the studio and have promo commitments during the day.
2. Do not get attached to songs. As a songwriter, you have your favorite songs, and they do not always fit the project. It is a heartbreaker in the beginning!
3. You must make sacrifices. I have had to disconnect myself from the world and lock myself in the studio to find my calling. I quarantined before the mandatory quarantine. I did not have much of a social life during that time.
4. It is not easy. There have been days when I have had no money. Not even for food. My writing partner and I would be in the studio trying to figure it out. Now that my career is taking off, I must perform at an elevated level. That requires exceedingly long workdays and dealing with much pressure. It is not easy, but if you push yourself, it will be worth it.
5. Discipline will get you where motivation will not. You must get up and work even when you do not like it or things get tough. It is about being consistent.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would create a movement called “GoldSteps.” We would help youth develop a roadmap to achieve their goals and offer them resources and mentorship.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I would love to meet Jay Z. He planted the idea of thinking beyond music and using our platform to create opportunities for others. I would love to learn from him.
Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!