Niia at the Constellation room within venue Observatory OC on 5/4/18 (Photo via Ashley Ramynke).

Arts and Entertainment

Concert Review: Soulful pop artist Niia brings sensual L.A. vibes to the O.C.

Appearing onstage with the essence of Lana Del Rey and the vocals of Whitney Houston, 29-year-old singer, songwriter, and pianist Niia creates a sensual live show that centralizes on the theme of new age love in Los Angeles while integrating elements of classic jazz, soul and R&B. Born and raised in the Boston suburb of…
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/ramynke/" target="_self">Ashley Ramynke</a>

Ashley Ramynke

June 27, 2018

Appearing onstage with the essence of Lana Del Rey and the vocals of Whitney Houston, 29-year-old singer, songwriter, and pianist Niia creates a sensual live show that centralizes on the theme of new age love in Los Angeles while integrating elements of classic jazz, soul and R&B.

Born and raised in the Boston suburb of Needham, Mass., Niia under instruction of her musically-driven mother, thrived at vocal music and classical piano. Beginning in her early teens, this desire to perform led her to train at the Berklee College of Music’s summer program, and proceed to attend college at the New School in New York City. Currently, she resides in Los Angeles with musical collaborator and Danish record producer, Robin Hannibal.

The proud Angeleno traveled a mere hour south of her current residence to perform at the Constellation Room in the Observatory OC in Orange County, Calif. on May 4 as the 14th stop on tour with Canadian singer-songwriter Charlotte Cardin.

Trading her traditional ponytail braid for a down, windswept look, Niia walked onstage with an angelic essence. In light-wash double denim and thick black heeled boots, she stood center stage alongside keyboardist Pete Cafarella and drummer Iajhi Hampden, slightly covering a pink neon sign resting on the drum set that read her name.

The audience’s eclectic energy from “hypebeasts,” hipster couples and teenage girls all swayed in sync, giving the appearance of being hypnotized in a sensual trance to a setlist composed of songs off her 2017 debut album “I”, featuring lead singles “Sideline” ft. Jazmine Sullivan and “Last Night in Los Feliz.”

A major component of Niia’s trance-like essence is her charismatic aloofness within the music, in which single “Sideline” evolves from a slow jazz opening to the effortless execution of Whitney Houston-like notes with the chorus, “Keep waiting for the right time… Still on the sideline.” Niia leaves the audience gasping in a state of shock with her ability to hit these vocalizations and instantaneously return to her calm presence.

Complementary lead single “Last Night in Los Feliz,” featured in “KYLIE: A Short Film” starring reality TV personality, social media sensation and makeup mogul Kylie Jenner, contains intricately crafted lyrics with such strong visuals allowing the audience to transcend the dingy, 300 capacity room with a lingering smell of alcohol and sweat to return to their memories of heartbreak, lust and love.

To add variance to her catalogue of thought-provoking ballads, Niia channeled her 90s roots and sang a slowed down rendition of “Too Much” by the Spice Girls. Though this song is more obscure compared to the British girl group’s chart-topping hits, the audience strongly resonated with the song that paid homage to the music of her and much of the audience’s teenage years.

With this range in musical influences from pop icons the Spice Girls to soulful R&B artist Whitney Houston, Niia has defined her sound as a hybrid of genres and performance styles to create an effortless live show and sound. Creating anticipation for her rise in pop music as documented on her Instagram @niia, Twitter @niiarocco and website niiamusic.com.