Nisha Nandez is an unsung hero with tenacity and passion for singing which comes naturally and is one that she has had as long as she can remember. The radio and her became close friends during childhood but as time went on, her reality changed. As real life hit and she grew up in between failed relationships, raising her children, homelessness, a brutal attack on her life, and several issues with her health, she knew something in her life had to change.
She thought about how she could give back to the world. After September 11th happened, she knew that she would pursue her passion for music and give back to the world by enlisting in the Army Band! Six months after training was completed, she deployed to Baghdad, Iraq. It was in Iraq that she became the lead female vocalist in the rock band. Her time with the band ended and she became a commissioned officer and shortly thereafter, retired from the Army.
At the start of her singing/songwriting career, she chose to combine the music she loves: an eclectic hybrid of pop, rock, jazz and alternative that created an Indie Pop/Rock feel. She has worked with many talented producers: Jason Richard, Eddie Galan, JackEL. She relies on her trusted vocal trainer and friend Sara Lieb (Voice Studio LA) to continue strengthening her vocal talent.
Her new music is more defined in the Dance/EDM genre yet remains soulful and sincere. She’s grateful to her family, friends, and fans for all their support as she continues to share her experiences through music.
RESPECT.: Who are some of your inspirations in music and what made you choose this path?
Nisha: My biggest inspiration in music is definitely my family. I grew up listening to my grandparents singing in church and watching the choir rock on Sundays. I had a great uncle who sang with Motown artists and another uncle who sang off-Broadway for years. My father played piano and I started playing flute at 9 years old. I guess you can say music is just in my blood. Choosing to pursue a singer career was natural choice for me after my Army career.
RESPECT.: Were you chosen to be the vocalist by controlling your destiny or were you surprised with the opportunity?
Nisha: Ha ha, actually I was “voluntold”. I was very shy and thought I would only be an instrumentalist in the Army Band. I was surprised with the opportunity and was extremely inexperienced as a vocalist. Fortunately, I learned to lose some of the stage fright and enjoy entertaining the troops.
RESPECT.: What were a few of your routines that you had to master in order to hone your craft?
Nisha: After I released my first few pop songs, I had this burning desire to do better, sing better, be better… I enrolled in a music college in Pasadena and started solid vocal training. I learned the importance of breathing, stretching, vocal warm-ups, ear-training and more. I studied singers in almost every genre to learn different techniques, singing styles and performances. These practices helped me develop my own style and enhance my confidence and creativity.
RESPECT.: What were some of the upsides and downsides of doing music for the military rather in the civilian world?
Nisha: Music in the military opened a huge door for me. It allowed me to perform in front of huge crowds in Iraq and even open for Toby Keith. I got formal music training as a musician but not as a vocalist, however I believe the MOS (military occupational specialty) for vocalist is now available. There weren’t any downsides for me. Had I not served in the Army Band, I may never have seriously pursued singing when I got out.
RESPECT.: Would you change how everything happened?
Nisha: I wouldn’t change anything that happened in my life. The experiences I have had, both positive and negative allowed me to tell the story of my life through music. Writing songs has been therapeutic and I believe most of my songs are relatable to everyone. “Baby Just a Minute” I wrote at the end of a long-term relationship, “Out of My Mind” I wrote about the aftermath of deployment, and my new single, “My Head”, is actually a love song.
RESPECT.: Now that you are retired what is your mission in music?
Nisha: My mission in music is to keep reaching as many people as I can through song. I want to spread hope and show that dreams are obtainable through faith and hard work. I hope when people hear my songs they listen to the lyrics and feel the emotion, dance or even cry if they need to. Everyone has a story, and mine is just one in a world of billions.
RESPECT.: What message would you like to share with the world?
Nisha: I want the world to know that the only thing that can stop you from achieving your dream is you. I believe all things are possible and the only direction to go is forward even when life takes you a few steps back. I’ve learned to view every obstacle as a learning experience, another great lyric, and a stepping-stone to making you a better person. There is nothing you can’t achieve if you put my mind to it. Don’t ever stop believing in yourself and your dreams.
RESPECT.: If you could meet any musician or singer as well have a 20 min conversation with them whether alive or deceased who would it be and why?
Nisha: I would love to spend 20 minutes with Ella Fitzgerald. Ella’s life was one of both tragedy and success. Through it all, she found comfort and acceptance on stage. I would love to learn what her vocal practices were, how she was able to express such emotion with her voice… I would love to learn how to embody her energy! I actually have the entire song, “Summertime” tattooed on my arm I was so inspired by her vocal range, her performance and it happens to be one of my favorite jazz ballads to sing.
RESPECT.: How can one join the military and be in this army band if they are interested?
Nisha: To join the military, you need a high school diploma or GED, pass the ASVAB and be in decent physical shape. To join the Army Band, you would have to be an experienced musician. There is a required audition prior to enlistment that consists of performing a prepared piece, sight-reading and knowledge of scales and possibly more. Those are the basics but to get more information, contacting a recruiter would be the best route.
RESPECT.: Could you make a career in the music as a soldier and still protect your authenticity as a creative?
Nisha: I believe protecting your authenticity as a creative while making a career in music as a Soldier is imperative. The military has required marches we all know, like Stars and Stripes, but with the mandatory formal music training given, the foundation is laid to create your own music in almost any style. It is definitely possible to perform required music as a Soldier and still be authentic when creating and performing your own music.
RESPECT.: What does RESPECT. mean to you?
Nisha: To me, RESPECT is treating people the way they should be treated. It means never forgetting where you came from and remembering that life and death is in the power of the tongue. Be kind to others, treat them with dignity and more simply, treat others the way you want to be treated.
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