“A simple ‘Hey’ from you holds more weight than a love letter from any superSTAR I have ran across.”
According to Scientific American, a star is born when “when atoms of light elements are squeezed under enough pressure for their nuclei to undergo fusion. All stars are the result of a balance of forces: the force of gravity compresses atoms in interstellar gas until the fusion reactions begin.” To simplify the dorky language, a star is made as a compiling and balancing of the forces around it, compressed into a fused energy mass that shines. A nova is a strong, rapid increase in the brightness of a star. This all goes to say that whether in life, or even scientifically, you will ALWAYS know a star and/or a nova when you see them. This is how it is experiencing the essence of Kaya Nova up, close and personal, even if for a small time.
I know Kaya Nova professionally and personally from our time in the Atlanta University Center together with her and I attending Spelman College and Morehouse College respectively since Fall 2012 until Spring 2016. Kaya Nova was heavily instrumental in my first big initiative and arts showcase in the Atlanta University Center that gained me prestige. As we both went about our separate matriculation as full time, meticulous musicians and creatives, I watched Kaya Nova live up to her artist name in no time: One in the same collegiate timeline as Kaya Nova and I can easily recall her as a showstopper at pageants, in service of the entire Atlanta University Center as a mental health advocate and avid campus Queen, and a lauded singer for the Spelman College Glee Club and wherever else she would perform. In no time, I would watch from afar as the living, breathing star would soar in her bright example at speeds I could not even fathom. Time is an illusion, but timing is everything. No matter how much time separated across space and time, I was able to see the star once more doing a fateful encounter as she began her artistry tour across the East Coast in the beginning of 2018.
Kaya Nova, with her revamped brand, was performing in Washington D.C at Takoma Station Tavern in Washington D.C on January 4th, 2018. Although the scheduling for artists’ performing times was janky, Kaya Nova still managed to shine bright for all to see. Beforehand, I was able to snag an exclusive interview on behalf of The Demo Tape and catch up.
Kaya Nova hails from Fayetteville, North Carolina. She was originally born in Manhattan, New York. Currently only 23 years old, Kaya Nova holds 2 degrees: a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Spelman College (the #1 HBCU in the United States of America for 10 years in a row) and a Master’s Degree from Berklee College of Music in Spain. Fire as hell in her Jordan year, yes, I know.
The economy is rough, especially for those who do not have a degree in Business or STEM related fields; and even with those degrees the global economy is rough for millennials and those graduating from college. It was the “only place she could go,” as Kaya Nova stated. This was not necessarily because she could not get in anywhere else for graduate school, but because of the economy and post-grad institutions that would offer opportunities directly benefiting her musicianship, creative lifestyle, and goals regarding music.
My question to Kaya Nova, after getting her basic introductory information was asking her the questions of who she is as an artist, individual person, and the extent as to how her travels have made her into who she is. Kaya Nova has been singing and been involved in musicianship since she was 5 years old. She performed previously under her government name but re-branded her artistry into Kaya Nova. She knew she was a star, a superstar in fact, but did not want to make her artistry sound as cliché as that. She did not want to let go of her first name as well, so nova, as explained in its definition at the beginning of this article, was used to create Kaya Nova. Kaya Nova, in addition to her birthplace of Manhattan and adopted home of Fayetteville, gave praise to Atlanta, which felt like home to her as well. In an experience that sometimes felt like she didn’t fit in, Kaya Nova said it was a hard journey in which she was blessed to experience as many safety nets as she did at Spelman College.
Post-graduation, Kaya Nova needed something to develop her sound and brand. She did not think it was in Spain. However, when the journey seemed daunting, Kaya Nova remembered and employed the quote: “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” This was the best decision she made, as she said, going on to give show stopping performance after performance in the foreign land while getting her Master’s fresh out of undergrad. A global renaissance woman, I’ll say.
In Spain, Kaya Nova not only was able to flex her budding and innate star power, but realized the power of Blackness worldwide. A lot of Berklee’s curriculum centered around the study of Black music and incorporating its elements to make the music as good as it was. Kaya Nova, an American Black woman, had an interesting experience, not only being a great vocalist from the jump, but being consistently asked about Black culture, Black hair, Black music, etc. Based off her experiences that made her braver in her Blackness and identity, and not just from her experience at Spelman College, Kaya stated ,“It is so important to NOT be afraid to be Black; even OUTSIDE of Black music.” In theory, as Kaya Nova, those of high Black pride uphold it at all times. However, it is important to be proud and open about it in all spaces, especially off of the platforms music and the internet; to be proud, unapologetic and protective of their Black magic, wherever, whenever.
“Institutions can try and take away from you are and you can’t let them do that.”
The type of music that Kaya Nova makes, as she describes, is “Fusion R&B.” She grew up listening to Classic R&B and loves Modern R&B/Neo-Soul so her music is to fuse that in the best way possible while not sacrificing the Classic R&B as much. Kaya Nova, in August 2017, released her debut project, “Dear 7even”, co-produced and arranged from start to finish by herself and her close friend “Nanci the Great” in Spain. The project had a contemporary sound but dazzling vocals that captivated her old and new fan-base, featuring skits and snippets from her friends in the United States. “Dear 7even” is a community project now available on multiple streaming platforms that was and still in a smash hit, radiating in its brilliance still like a gorgeous nova.
It has been hard, as I have heard Kaya Nova describe on another occasion off the record, about the difficulty of managing her entire career (distribution, bookings, etc.) by herself. Kaya Nova is not only a star, but a full time Artpreneuer making her art into her livelihood.
I asked about what Kaya Nova feels like what her purpose is in the industry is and she stated that her purpose is to help people, especially with her art. One time a fan expressed to her personally “You just made my day!” regarding how Kaya Nova’s music made her feel. Kaya Nova wants her music to touch people more like she was able to accomplish with that one fan.
“My talent and music is NOT for me.” Kaya stated. To continue, she stated,
“Your talent wasn’t given to you to be selfish with.”
Sometimes, Kaya Nova said that she’s not sure where her artistry is going to take her, but she still wants to do it.
Kaya Nova has a new single, new collaborations and announcements of a new project on the way but not yet to premiere to the world. We just have to stay patient and expect greatness once more, reminiscing on the sounds of “Dear 7even” until the next dynamic project.
To finish the interview, Kaya Nova had one last word to leave to creatives and other stars of every hood trying to get their shine:
“Everything that is happening…everything that you feel…is right. Don’t question it.”
Kaya Nova, like the greatest star not yet seen by all, will continue to soar and dazzle for some time to come. Keep up with her on her social media, as @thekayanova on both Instagram and Twitter.