Nila Kay
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Nila Kay

Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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Nila Kay @ The Strathmore Mansion - Art After Hours Concert Series

Bethesda, Maryland, USA

Bethesda, Maryland, USA

Nila Kay @ Downtown Holiday Market

Washington, District of Columbia, USA

Washington, District of Columbia, USA

Nila Kay @ 92Y Tribeca - Cafe (free!)

NYC, New York, USA

NYC, New York, USA

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*music is on my website



Nila Kay once explained that “music was born before minutes, days and years, before clocks and other ticking things calculated life on earth. It blew in on cosmic dust and swirled around the feet of tiny microbes, and somehow wound up in the palms of my hands, taking the shape of a tiny universe.”

Kay speaks a musical language that blends acoustic pop with funky neo-soul to create her own avant-garde dialect. While her sounds may be hard to define and her compositions difficult to conveniently box into a single genre, her passion is straight up.

Kay is a consummate artist and the struggle and inspiration behind her work comes directly from life experience. For that reason, perhaps, she defies conventional categories while concentrating on reinventing herself and letting the art narrate the journey.

As Kay once described it, “I'm still trying to find myself in music, and am slowly learning how to slough off more than the surface of my ideas.” That is what genuine artists do – and that’s why we need them in this world, to tease us back into metamorphosis as we lean toward the dull comfort of stagnation.

For many years, Kay aspired to be a professional dancer. But a knee injury sidelined her and left her bereft of her vital means of expression. So she followed her spirit to the guitar and found yet another voice to liberate her creativity. Rewriting the direction of her life after watching her dreams get cut off at the knees gave her fuel for writing and arranging songs. A big fan of Prince and Hendrix, Nila has now been finding her path while dancing along the fretboard for nearly a decade. Then came her biggest creative effort to date – and the turning point in her musical career.

Kay gave birth to a son, and the son reciprocated by giving her a new view of the world and a fresh, raw perspective on the meaning of daily struggles. “The birth of my son gave me the true inspiration to take my music to the next level,” says Kay. “Great music is fundamentally about the expression of love for something outside of yourself.”

Kay’s music derives from hard-won experience, intense study, and the kind of persistent dedication that leaves blisters on top of the blisters on the fingertips of your fretting hand. She started picking up local gigs to indulge her passion and hone her skills. She played guitar with the group Urban Minds at major clubs in the Washington DC area. She played with The Players, led by highly revered drummer and producer Jon Laine. Together they performed numerous times at the J Dilla Tribute Show, with special guests Raheem Devaughn and Dwele. More recently, Kay joined The Players on XM65, with featured guests Pete Rock and Talib Kweli.

Getting outside herself by going deeper within, Kay sometimes flirts with jazz, sometimes jazzes up funk, and sometimes strips down pretty pop to its quintessential bare acoustic soul. But she always keeps the electricity arcing inward where the mood is simultaneously raw and tender, vulnerable and bold. Hers is the soulful collaboration of a streetwise mother and a visionary child.