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Whether it’s collaborating with Akon in her group, Brick and Lace, or writing tracks for J.Lo and Christina Aguilera,

Whether it’s collaborating with Akon in her group, Brick and Lace, or writing tracks for J.Lo and Christina Aguilera, Nyla has worked with some of the biggest names in the music business. Now, the Kingston, Jamaica-raised singer is set to make a splash of her own with her first solo recordings and a fresh, eclectic sound that draws from dance, electronic, R&B, pop and, above all, reggae music.

“I’m drawing elements from different arenas of music but it’s always going to be reggae influenced, because that’s my base,” Nyla says. “At the end of the day, people see me as an island girl. Whatever energy I bring, I’m always Jamaican.”

As a child, Nyla (aka Nailah Thorbourne) got her start singing in church, and gained invaluable stage training during four years with Jamaica’s Music Theater Company. Forming Brick and Lace with her older sister, Nyanda, the duo cut their first records in Jamaica before relocating to the Miami area after high school.  “We got our start in the record industry in Jamaica, but our really big break was here in the States,” Nyla says.

After working as background vocalists for a diverse set of heavy hitters including Roberta Flack, Lauryn Hill, Beres Hammond and family friend Marcia Griffiths, Nyla and Nyanda caught the attention of international pop superstar Akon, who signed them as the first act on his Geffen-distributed Kon Live label in 2005. Brick and Lace officially hit the music scene two years later, via pop-reggae singles like "Love Is Wicked," a Top 10 hit in France and Finland, and “Never Never.” Released that same year, the album Love Is Wicked featured production from Akon, Will.I.Am and Jazze Pha, showcasing the sister act’s breadth with material spanning  dance pop to hardcore dancehall.

Meanwhile, Nyla and Nyanda—who wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on Love Is Wicked—formed Bloodline, a songwriting team with their sisters, Candace and Tasha Thorbourne. Together the quartet has crafted tracks for Jennifer Lopez (“I’m Into You” featuring Lil Wayne and the No. 1 Latin hit “Follow the Leader” with Wisin y Yandel), Christina Aguilera (“Around the World” from 2012’s comeback album, Lotus), Nicole Sherzinger (“Say Yes”) and pop-rock band, the Secret State (“Swear by You”). “Writing is our outlet to flex our pop and R&B muscles,” Nyla says of the sisters’ diverse clientele. “It was a natural progression considering we wrote a lot. We wanted to diversify and take it to another level.”

While the sisters’ songwriting career was taking off, Brick and Lace found themselves in label limbo. The duo eventually agreed to put the project on hiatus, leading Nyla on a quest to discover and create her own sound. Working with a team of up-and-coming producers including Jamaica’s Noah Issa and Jus Eazy and Miami’s Corey Chase and Mucka Hill, her new tracks showcase her diversity and confidence in working across multiple styles and genres. The songs are set to be compiled on an upcoming EP, to be released under Konfrontation Muzik, the new label from reggae star, Ky-mani Marley.

“Nyla is one of the premier vocalists from Jamaica, and she’s ready to put her stamp on popular music,” says Ky-Mani, son of the late Bob Marley. “Her beauty is secondary to her soaring vocals. She’s really at the head of the pack when it comes to vocalists coming from yard.”

“Stand Up,” her debut single, is a sensual, double entendre-filled plea to a male partner to step up both inside the bedroom and out. “Selecta,” meanwhile, celebrates Jamaica’s DJ and party culture over a futuristic dubstep riddim from Issa.

ThIt’s been a great process,” Nyla says of the new songs, soon to be compiled on an upcoming EP. “It’s been a little scary for me because I’ve always been working with my sisters. But it’s freeing for me to say what I want, and express my flow or my voice however i want to do it.”

It’s a voice you are sure to be hearing a lot more from in the days to come.


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