Gig Seeker Pro


Band Hip Hop Hip Hop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Rapper wins again"

Nyles "Witness" Houston has rapped his way to a summer music scholarship - again.

Houston, 17, of Brockton, a junior at Brockton High School, was named the second-place winner of the third annual "Take Back the Music Hip-Hop Songwriting Contest" sponsored by Essence magazine and Berklee College of Music. In 2006, he won second place in the contest.

For his winning entry this year, "The Gamble," Houston was awarded a tuition-free admission in the Berklee five-week summer performance program, the same prize awarded him two years ago

"It was a great experience," said Houston, a self-described Christian rapper. "I met the first-place winners and a lot of other people, and learned a lot of things about music besides rap."

Houston is one of six children, and his mother, Shirley, is a minister. The family is active at Lincoln Congregational Church in Brockton, and the young man gleaned his nickname "Witness" from his Christianity, he said, adding that as a Christian rapper "it's me witnessing to other people about God."

Houston is not sure what road he will take after high school, but for now, he says, "I'll push what I'm doing as a Gospel rapper. Maybe later I'll do something besides rap; I'm still looking. My career will probably be in music, but for now, I'm not sure."

According to one of the contest judges, Prince Charles Alexander, associate professor of music production and engineering at Berklee, Houston's composition "uses the rhythms, verbal intensity, flow and metaphoric techniques of a seasoned rapper," and "deftly critiques the wasted potential of his theoretical protagonist with a flexible use of the English language. Nyles also chose a great beat to rhyme over."

The contest's two grand prize winners, from Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, and Houston have been invited by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino to perform at the 2008 Peace Hip-Hop Festival at Boston's City Hall Plaza on Aug. 2.

The winners were chosen from more than 40 submissions by songwriters between the ages of 15 and 19 nationwide. In a first round of judging, a group of Berklee students and Essence employees picked 10 finalists, and then five were chosen by a panel of hip-hop celebrity judges.

To hear Houston's song, visit essence.com/essence/takebackthemusic/contest/10finalists_08.html.

TOP STUDENTS: Greg Burke (inset), a senior at Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood, has been chosen as the winner of the Principal's Leadership Award Scholarship, given by the National Association of Secondary School Principals on behalf of Herff Jones Inc. Burke was first chosen as one of 100 state winners from among 4,500 and then named a regional winner. Nine were chosen out of the regional pool.

Bridget Bearden of Braintree has been named a Boardroom Leadership Scholar at Suffolk University's Sawyer Business School. Twenty graduating MBA students were selected as members of the program. To be considered for the program, students must meet the requirements for graduation; write a 500-word essay on what it takes to be a leader in today's global business world; and show leadership capability, skills, and interest.

MISS SOUTHCOAST: Molly Whalen (inset) of Middleborough has been crowned Miss Southcoast 2008. She will compete in the Miss Massachusetts pageant on June 27 and 28 at Bristol Community College in Fall River. Whalen, who plans to attend the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in the fall, is now a student at Coyle and Cassidy High School in Taunton.

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Gregory Hall (inset) of Hingham Real Estate has been awarded the Realtor Emeritus Award from the National Association of Realtors. The award was giving in recognition of 40 years of membership in the national group and for his contributions to the profession.

Dr. Vandana Khera of Walpole has joined the internal medicine staff at Caritas Norwood Hospital. She specializes in geriatric medicine, and is a member of the American College of Physicians. Dr. Arvind Bansal of North Providence, R.I., has also joined the hospital staff. He is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary diseases, critical care medicine, and sleep medicine. In his position, he collaborates with directors of the Caritas Center for Sleep Medicine at the hospital.

Nicole Condon of Rockland has joined Empire Real Estate in that town as a real estate sales agent and office manager. She is a member of the Plymouth and South Shore boards of Realtors and the Massachusetts Board of Realtors. She is responsible for overseeing Empire's office operations and administrative staff.

Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at kandarian@globe.com.
- By Paul E. Kandarian

"Brockton teen hip-hopper answers to a higher power"

Nyles Houston is no stranger to the stage. The Brockton resident and rapper has been on the mic for the past seven years, performing regularly in the Greater Boston area and sharpening his skills.

His hard work paid off earlier this month, when he landed a support slot opening for rap legends EPMD, Das EFX and Chubb Rock at City Hall Plaza at this year’s Peace Boston 2008 Hip-Hop Festival.

“The performance was a great experience for me because it was the biggest crowd I had performed in front of,” said Houston in a recent interview.

It was an impressive achievement for the artist known as “Witness.” Especially considering he can’t even vote yet.

Despite being just 17 years old, Houston has experience and poise, uncommon traits for a teenager. But “Witness” is anything but common, from his demeanor to the subject matter he tackles in his “gospel rap” lyrics.

Because some in the hip-hop community turn a deaf ear to faith-focused rhymes, the opportunity to perform in front of a large mainstream audience at the City Hall Plaza festival was important to Houston.

“It was also redeeming in a sense, by showing that I’m serious even though many don’t in fact take gospel rap serious,” said Houston, citing the Bible, his friends and family, and daily life as sources of lyrical inspiration.

Houston earned the chance to perform at the Peace Boston 2008 show by winning second place in the third annual Take Back the Music Hip-Hop Songwriting Contest, a competition sponsored by Essence magazine and Berklee College of Music.

More than 50 artists from across the country between the ages of 15 and 19 submitted entries to the contest, which were evaluated by a panel of hip-hop professionals and Berklee scholars based on “clever, innovative lyrics that conveyed a positive message, as well as melody and composition,” according to Allen Bush, Berklee’s director of media relations.

Houston, who also took second place in the first Take Back the Music competition as a 15-year-old entrant back in 2006, won runner-up honors this year for his song “The Gamble.”

“That song is basically speaking to everything that has to do with somebody putting their life in a situation where they could lose something important,” he said. “A lot of people gamble their relationships, their lives, their talents.”

In addition to the hip-hop festival gig, the track netted Houston a full scholarship to Berklee’s Five-Week Summer Performance Program, which he is now attending.

Houston got his first break at age 10, when he filled in for a member of his cousins’ worship group at Brockton’s Mount Moriah Baptist Church. He took the stage name Witness from his cousins’ group, Verbal Witness.

Houston’s mother, Minister Shirley Houston, thinks her son’s stage name is particularly appropriate.

“Nyles’ destiny, as he shares, is to attest to the reality of Christ, and His love for us,” said Minister Houston, who publishes a devotional Web site called “The Anointed Quill.”

“As a ‘witness,’ he boldly proclaims that to inherit eternal life in Heaven, we must accept Jesus as Lord and Savior of our life,” she said.

Speaking with a judge’s certainty, “Witness” said that though he is only 17, he is confident in his lyrical content and has never doubted his work’s credibility.

“Everything I do is in full honesty and sincerity,” he said. “That is what I stand behind — I could never worry about credibility. This is why I rap with such authority.”

Minister Houston said she has had the utmost confidence in her son from day one.

“His ability to understand and perceive many of the complexities of life, [which] many of us don’t come to understand until we reach adult­hood, was something that I saw in him from the time that he was in the first grade,” said Minister Houston.

Minister Houston grew up in the Bronx — only blocks away from where hip-hop legends Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five had their earliest performances, she said — and is in the process of establishing a nondenominational church with her husband, Leroy Houston Jr. She said she sees Nyles assuming the role of youth minister.

For “Witness,” that wouldn’t be much of a stretch.

“Spreading the word of God will come before everything I do,” he said. “Preaching the message of God without rap — that I know for a fact I could do, even though the art of rap is a passion for me.”

That passion led Houston to make a difficult choice this summer after finishing his junior year at Brockton High School this past June. After careful consideration, Houston decided to forgo a traditional senior year of high school to focus on his music career.

Mindful of the importance of education, however, the Houstons found a path to a diploma that will enable Nyles to commit to music.

“We’ve opted to enroll him in the Gateway to College program at Massasoit Community College,” said Minister Houston. “Through it, he will earn high school and college credits, and a regular a high school diploma. At the end of the program, he can transition into a regular college curriculum.”

The more-flexible hours will put “Witness” in “a better position to pursue his music career,” the minister added.

And to continue his musical education by broadening his horizons and learning new instruments.

“The piano is something I would like to learn to in the future, as well as the guitar, because these are two instruments I would love to rap over in some of my songs,” he said. “This will expand me as an artist in general, since I’m not trying to be one-dimensional. There’s really no limit to what you can do with hip-hop.”
- Jared Lindh


Nyles Houston, 15, a gospel rapper, finishes second in a nation-wide song-writing contest.

By Maureen Boyle

BROCKTON _ Fifteen year-old Nyles Houston hit the right notes with his hip hop gospel lyrics, earning second place in a national song-writing contest Wednesday.

"Most rappers are sending the wrong message to people. The message I want to send people is that choosing the right path is definitely going to take you somewhere," he said.

Houston, a Brockton High School freshman, was one of five winners in the Berklee College of Music and Essence Magazine hip hop song writing contest.

The winners, picked from 10 finalists in the contest, were announced Wednesday.

The winners were choosen from more than 100 submissions from songwriters age 15 to 18.

Houston, aka "Lil' Witnsee," won second place for his song, "Represent," and will receive a tuition-only scholarship to the 2006 Berklee five-week summer performance program at the college's Boston campus.

His song can be heard online at www.essence.com/takebackthemusic and www.berklee.edu

Houston, described by Essence as a rising star in gospel rap, said he draws his inspiration from his faith.

"Once you become a Christian, you are in God's favor," he said.

His music caught the judges' attention with its unique style, and honest lyrics.

"It was an exemplary example, a very strong example of what we were looking for on every front," said Cynthia Gordy, an assistant editor at Essence and one of the initial judges in the contest. "His delivery was very confident."
Houston's father, Leroy, a Cambridge Firefighter, said he was proud of his son's accomplishment. "It is kind of overwhelming," he said. - The Brockton Enterprise - Maureen Boyle, writer

""Hip-Hop music has a beat of inspiration""

Hip-hop and rap music have a decidely negative reputation among a large part of American society. Tune in to MTV or find a hip-hop station on the radio dial and you will see why. Many of the lyrics are mysoginistic clap-trap, focusing on sex, violence and the inordinate need for personal gratification. But it doesn't have to be that way, as 15 year-old Nyles Houston of Brockton has shown.

Houston, the son of a Cambridge firefighter, and a Brockton Minister, won second place in the national hip-hop songwriting contest sponsored by Essence Magazine and the Berklee College of Music. Houston didn't follow the tried and true path to hip-hop success, but took a positive path that diverted him to the realm of Gospel rap. His songs are positive and faith-driven and prove that someone with a good heart and the courage to put himself in the hands of God can be recognized.

The Brockton High School freshman, who goes by the name "Lil' Witness," took honors for his song "Represent," and will receive a scholarship to Berklee's summer performance program. His mother Shirley said Nyles "has always been a deep thinker" and is passionate about writing songs, which he has done since age 10.

Nyles Houston understands the bad rap that hip-hop music has and he wants to change that. "Most rappers are sending the wrong message to people," he said. "The message I want to send to people is that choosing the right path is definitely going to take you somewhere."

Choosing the right path - and being very talented - has certainly taken Houston somewhere. He is a success in the field he loves - music - and he believes his religious faith stands him in good stead where it counts the most.

"Once you become a Christian, you are in God's favor," he said.

Gospel rap is not likely to make this teenager rich or famous. But we don't think he cares, even though Essence magazine called him a rising star in gospel rap. Houston already has accomplished two important goals - giving people a different, more positive impression of hip-hop music, and spreading his faith in God. - The Brockton Enterprise May 6, 2006


I've released, "The Inspiration" Album (8/2008) The tracks are: 1. "Imma' Christian Now," 2. "Represent," 3. "Father," 4. "Changed," 5. "Gitcha' Hands High," 6. "Move On," "The Devil Wears Diamonds," and Journal Entry #1.

The following are on internet (streaming) radio:
A. "Gitcha' Hands High," "Represent," and , "Imma' Christian Now" are streaming on www.hiphopdownloads.ca

B. "Gitcha' Hands High" is on http://www.RadioElectric.com.com

My album, "The Inspiration" currently has radio airplay on WAER Radio at Syracuse University - Gospel.

In 2006, I had my track, "What's the Title" featured on The Above Ground C. D., by Verbal Witness. I wrote this song at the age of 10, and performed it live during the next couple of years.



“Witness” Houston was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 3, 1991. He is the oldest of six children, and currently resides in Brockton, Massachusetts with his parents. As a family, they are in the process of establishing a church “to minister to a generation in need of Spiritual revival.”

At the age of ten, “Witness” began writing secular rap to “relieve stress.” Also, he didn’t like the fact that “a lot of what was performed degraded females, and glorified violence.” Of this experience he said, “even as a ten year-old, I really stunk.”

Baptized at the age of nine, “Witness” felt the unctioning of the Holy Spirit, and began writing Gospel Rap to glorify God. He wanted to share his convictions about the fruitlessness of pursuing godless delights. Subsequently, he began experiencing great success.

“Witness” is extremely confident and poised, and has appeared in cities and venues across the nation - primarily along the East Coast. He sees these “performances” as opportunities to minister; and has garnered the respect of people in varying “walks of life” – young and old.

“Witness” won his first cash prize during a church sponsored rap-a-thon in the summer of 2004, placing first despite being the youngest to compete. He was also recognized by the Brockton 21st Century Corporation’s Small Business Program as a “positive role model for youth” because of the uplifting lyrics in his work. His piece, “What’s The Title?” was also featured on Verbal Witnesses’ CD compilation, “Above Ground Volume 1.” This year proved pivotal for Witness as he began to grow in faith and confidence of his life’s mission.

Continuing to perform throughout 2005, Witness “laid down” tracks with older artists who also mentored him.

In 2006, “Witness” won second place in a music writing contest cosponsored by the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and Essence Magazine. Dubbed, “The Take Back the Music Campaign,” it’s intended to reclaim rap music; and infuse a renewed inflection of positive lyrics, and messages.

Of more than 100 entrants nationwide, “Witness’” piece, “Represent” was the only Gospel Hip Hop track. In it, he powerfully proclaims that we “represent” Christ at all times. His stance in this regard also afforded “Witness” the opportunity to open for the renowned Gospel recording artist, Jennifer Holiday on Martha’s Vineyard in July of 2006.

In 2007 “Witness” was primarily performing at churches and community events. After submitting a demo to the sponsors of Rapfest in The Bronx, New York; he was also chosen to perform during their annual Christian Rap ministry event. Here, Christ is proclaimed to the community; and the Gospel Rap artists are an integral part of the effort. Unfortunately, the event was cancelled due to permit issues; and the festival postponed until August of 2008. Although disappointed, “Witness” didn’t quit. Instead, he remarked, “this gave me a chance to practice.”

“Witness” continued entering contests and performing at youth sponsored events, organizations and ministries, and consequently won additional awards. These include, the NAACP’s “ACT-SO” award, and the “Bell After School Scholar award.” Recognized for being an “exemplary youth role model” in the City of Brockton, he also participated in a panel discussion on community empowerment sponsored by the NAACP on the local community channel.

“Witness” was among a select number of artist to open for a group he greatly admires, The Cross Movement during their 2007 tour, “Our Place in History” at the Historic Tremont Temple Baptist Church in Boston. This opportunity enabled him to learn about commitment to the Gospel and excellence; and also the business-side of ministry. Noting that there were tables available for the artists to promote items, he asked another if he could share a table at half cost; Witness then used his “Artist’s I. D.” card to make a sign indicating the cost and contents of his C.D.’s. In true entrepreneurial-spirit, he offered a slight discount to “jump-start” sales. He worked diligently until the end of the concert.

One of Witness’ more “meaningful” accomplishments has been placing 3rd at the 2007 Brockton Mayor’s Youth Summit. He felt that he helped in the effort to end violence, and also gained a sense of personal closure. Sadly, violence has claimed the lives of many of his peers - including a few whom he knew personally.

For Witness, 2008 also began with promise. On January 11th, he had the privilege of performing at the Massachusetts State House during the 21st Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Luncheon.

He was excited to have his first C. D. produced this year as well. Entitled “The Inspiration,” it aptly describes Witness’ journey to his god-given voice, while simultaneously navigating the plethora of opinions to sway him in many other directions.

Again placing 2nd in th