Over the years, England has produced its fair share of world-class reggae artists such as Steel Pulse, Aswad, Maxi Priest and UB40 to name a few. The Midlands in particular seem to be a fertile breeding ground. Wolverhampton is the home to one of the oldest Jamaican communities in England and is also the home to one of the most talented young reggae singers around, home and abroad.
Photo & text courtesy of Massive Int'l London.
His name is Nyah and it is one to watch as this young man is destined for heigher heights musically. In the tradition of most black singers, Nyah had his earliest musical experiences in the church under influence of his mother. He also picked up valuable experience on the dancehall circuit in the Midlands, going through a variety of names along the way, the most recent as Roger Rabbit. Apart from his singing talents, Nyah is also a proficient musician and songwriter.
Nyah cites his musical influences as Dennis Brown, Mikey Spice, Beres Hammond, Garnett Silk and above all Luciano. His ambition is to be included one day in this A-list of Reggae vocalists, and listening to him you can already see the potential to achieve this. Nyah's rich tenor voice has a vulnerability to it that is emotionally charged, you can hear what he's feeling. When you add his powerful roots and reality lyrics you can see that this young man is on a mission with a message.
Still appearing as Roger Rabbit, he linked up with well known London based reggae producer, Fatta Naptali, who produced his debut single "Heartache" in 1994. The record was well received by roots fans, but coincided with a turbulent period in Nyah's life. After spending some time in Jamaica, getting in touch with his roots, he returned to the studio with a new focus musically. Teaming up again with Fatta Naptali, Nyah came back even stronger on "Humble", which he describes as his life story, but it is one many young black youths can identify with. This record signalled a a growing maturity in the singer about his role and purpose as an artist and led to him taking on the name Nyah, which better expressed what he is about. As he puts it "Nyah means respect to all those who've survived the struggle and also educated the younger heads up to date, so that feel more of a natural name to me."
The next step for Nyah came with the release of "We Need Love" again on Fatta's Yard Beat label. The song was on the same riddim as Luciano's "Ulterior Motive" and was overshadowed by the popularity of that record. Lyrically and vocally, the song could have been delivered by Luciano himself. "We Need Love" remains one of the best reality songs of the past few years and will remain relevant for years to come.
Nyah's recent studio productions further emphasise his potential as a musical force. His latest offering "Give I Strength" for Fatta Naptali sees Nyah ging head to head again with Luciano's "Earth Creator" and Mikey General's "Great Pretender" on the same riddim and more than holding his own. When you listen to Nyah sing, you know deep down that this brother is feeling it not faking it. The forthcoming release of his debut album, still untitled, will establish Nyah's credentials as a singer with a genuine claim to be regarded in the same light as any of his role models.