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The best kept secret in music


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'I'm Not the One" -- October 2002

"I'm Not the One" -- August 2002
"One Day I Might" -- May 2003


Feeling a bit camera shy


“This is Rashida and it means righteousness.”
“This is Dara and it means beautiful one.”
“This is Aisha and it means life.”
“This is Tuere and it means sacred.”
“We’re Nia which means purpose!”

These words, spoken at the beginning of NIA’s debut album, I’m Not The One, are more than a mere introduction of the group’s members. They are a declaration of who they are and what they represent. And they are the listener’s first indication that NIA is not just another group.

In today’s crowded music industry, there are few artists who truly stand out in terms of their message and their mission. But NIA, the hip-hop-R&B foursome from Atlanta, Georgia, is a breath of fresh air that is certain to resuscitate the phenomenon known as the girl group.

Comprised of Dara Love, 15, Tuere Smith, 17 and twin sisters Rashida and Aisha Porche, 17, NIA is much more than a gimmicky, prefab group of cute girls with the right look and the right sound. Though beautiful and talented, NIA comes with a higher purpose: to be a beacon to their peers who sometimes can’t see their own inner light.

Throughout the album, NIA sings about having respect for oneself and demanding respect from others. On songs like the lead single, “I’m Not The One” and “Behave Yourself,” the girls send a resounding message to “wannabe players.” “’I’m Not The One’ sends a positive message to the youth,” says Dara. “It tells them not to cross the line, be yourself, be proud of who you are.” Adds Rashida, “We’re teens and it’s not okay for you to touch me any kind of way and you gotta let guys today know that you’re not the one.” And NIA definitely lets them know: Sings Aisha, “I’m not the kind of girl who keeps playin’ myself for you and give away that special part of me/You’re just another boy trying to be a man with a childlike mentality.”

On the irresistible “Sherlockin’” and the coy, groove-driven “One Day I Might” the girls explore teenage relationships in all their innocence – singing in one instance about a bashful admirer afraid to make his intentions known, and in another about a young girl trying to ‘get up the nerve’ to say hello to that special boy.

One of the album’s most riveting and personal songs is “Dream,” a tender message of hope and inspiration. “I can relate to that song because I grew up in the ghetto and we had a lotta people who doubted us,” says Aisha. “They said we couldn’t make it and they tried to knock our dreams.” Adds her sister, “’Dream’ makes you want to sit down and think about life and think about all the stuff that goes on in the lives of people on the streets.”

But NIA is by no means all talk and no fun. On songs like “Let’s Dance”—where the girls take their message to the dance floor-- and “Girl Time,” where they celebrate being girls and kick it about the fun things girls do, listeners will find NIA to be as exciting and entertaining as they are enlightening. Says Dara of “Let’s Dance,” “The track is banging! Everything about that song is hot. It’s just talking about dancing, doing your thing and having fun.”

On an album full of standouts – from the woeful “Here We Go” (featuring group mentor ‘Uncle’ Dave Hollister) to the teenage love song, “Seasons,” NIA’s lyrics are clear and poignant; their spirit is youthful and pure and their message is engaging and thought-provoking.

Featuring production by Hollister, I’m Not The One is fresh and contemporary, remarkably appealing to a broad spectrum of listeners. Each song is a testament to who these young ladies are and how they were raised. After all, it was their upbringing that laid the foundation for this special group of special girls.

NIA was formed in 1998 but they weren’t brought together by some nationwide talent search or an ambitious producer looking for the next big thing. All four girls grew up and attended church together in their native Atlanta. Their union was a natural progression. “When Tuere, Dara and Akina Love (the group’s manager) called me and my sister we thought it was all a joke,” says Aisha. “But God put us all together so everything worked out. We have a unique group, something that nobody else has.” Tuere agrees. “At first we all thought that everybody was going to sing but when we found out that Dara and Rashida could rap we decided to make something different; we thought we’d have two rappers and two singers.”

But Love says it’s more than the group’s unique configuration that makes them special.
“These girls are like one,” she says. “If one of them is not there, they feel like part of their circle is gone. I think that comes from the connection that they have and them being brought up together and knowing that together they can conquer anything.”

Today, with an ever-growing fanbase and a hot new album on indie label Koya Records, NIA is ready to conquer the music industry. And Love says the girls are ready and willing to do what it takes to make that happen. “They work,” she explains. “They sit down and t