American born of Jamaican descent the songwriter, singer and lyricist Nia Devine, well known for her unique style of urban soul (a mixture of R&B, Neo-Soul, Funk, and Hip Hop) was born Katherine Boatswain on June 30, 1982. The notion of attaining academic success, hard work, and financial security was instilled in her and her two brothers. With Nia’s primary focus being on doing well in school, she nor her family would have foreseen the significant role the musical arts would have on her life.
Growing up Nia listened to Hip Hop, R&B, and Soul music; looking up to vocal powerhouses such as Mariah Carey, Mary J Blige, and Whitney Houston and rappers such as Tupac, Jay Z, and Biggie. The “arts” was never a focus in her household, it wasn’t until one day, at the age of five, Nia was asked by the choir director to sing “Jesus Loves Me”. While performing to the congregation, she found that singing made her nervous. So, she would always stay in a background and never do solos when the opportunity was presented to her. Being the shy and reserved girl that she was, she found the pressure and attention too overwhelming.
In order to make young Nia more well rounded, she was introduced to the piano. It was her mom’s effort at blending the arts with academics. “ My mom believed that children who play instruments do better academically.” From the age of eight to 16, Nia developed her skills as a pianist and writer. Little did her mother know, this drew her interests closer to the arts than academics. Somewhat to her surprise, it led her to begin writing her own songs.
In high school, although she had an aptitude for the musical arts, music was still not her first choice as a career. By then, Nia had quit the church choir but continued to play the piano. She decided to continue her vocal training when her cousin, who convinced her to join the school choir with her.
With professional training and support, Nia broke out of her shell and begin to find her voice. She had overcome her stage fright and was regularly training her vocals. Her new found confidence led her to perform a duet with her cousin in their high school talent show. They performed, from the Soul Food soundtrack, “Baby I” by Tenderoni and the crowd fell in love. That led to her being asked to perform a solo at her high school graduation, which was the largest crowd she had ever sung in front of.
Following graduation, Nia put music on the backburner and focused on school and work. Although she had an undying and passionate love for music, she felt the lack of security in that career would not make her mother proud nor supportive. Witnessing the rise and fall of her brother’s musical group was a reinforcing reminder. She continued to write music and sing, but never performed in front of an audience.
After her hiatus, Nia decided to go to Stone Groove – a very popular showcase in Miami, FL where creatives gather – for an open mic night. She went in with the intent to being a spectator but spontaneously decided to perform. The audience’s reaction to her unstressed, sultry, and soulful voice reconnected her with her true love, music.
In 2008, she began aggressively pursuing her music career. Inspired by movies, people, stories, and life events, she continues to write music. She understands the influence music has on the world and is conscious of the messages delivered in her music. Nia has gone on to release three EPs: Southern Comfort (2008), Summer in Miami (2010), and Sextape (2014). She is currently working on her fourth EP leading with her single “Better”. With a growing organic fan base, she can be found performing at highly regarded venues around the city and expected to perform at the Jazz in the Gardens, Funk Fest, and Essence festivals in the years to come.