PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY NKELLE WRIGHT
Nkelle Wright is a fourth-year criminology student and an executive of Laurier Brantford’s Black Student Collective. Wright wants to be a detective and plans to start as a police officer, eventually hoping to land a position as a detective. When she is not busy being a student, she loves to sing. She often brightens her followers’ days by sharing her beautiful and warm voice on her Instagram page – a treat for all to hear!
Wright said she never thought about doing anything with music in the future, but she is open to it: “I have a godfather in the radio and DJ industry, and he is a radio host. He is trying to get me going into the studio.”
Wright has been passionate about music since she was a child. She recalls her mother gifting her a headset; this memory is a nostalgic moment for her as she remembers this as her first time engaging with her passion. While she cherished music when she was young, she never considered taking it further or taking up voice lessons. However, she became more invested in her passion after her years of dance class: “I danced competitively from the age of four till the age of sixteen or seventeen. That was my true passion and what I loved to do, but financially, it was not always possible, so my mom had to take me out of dance class. My mom still wanted me to be engaged with an art, so as a substitute, she put me in singing lessons.”
Wright said she has been influenced by an array of genres which she believes has helped shape and broaden her perspective on music. She credits her parents’ interest in singing as somewhat of an influence and her passion for dance, which further cultivated her love for music.
Wright, no doubt, has some great music recommendations to get students through the end of the semester: “I love Ybba. I discovered her in my first year. I will sing some of her songs to the top of my lungs. And I love old music, that being Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, and Nina Simone; they are my OG.”
Her favorite songs to sing are “On and On” by Erykah Badu, any Adele songs, particularly “All I Ask,” and her father loves when she sings Sam Smith, specifically “Stay with Me.”
“I think part of what makes me feel so strongly emotional and connected to music is its ability to relate to you,” said Wright. “Last year, my boyfriend and I of three years broke up. I finally had a sense of relief since it was mentally straining. The breakup was around the time SZA’s song ‘Good Days’ was being released, which helped uplift me.”
Wright believes music and art are imperative to society and can be used as tools to contribute to social change. Wright said, “Music perfectly represents how one may feel.”
Wright provides the examples of musicians Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill, black women who have sung about systemic issues black people have faced.
“Music is one of the best ways to bring about activism,” said Wright. “Many people do not want to be sitting down and lectured at, but it is a great way to get people engaged if you do it artistically and properly emote it. Many people take for granted that you can learn from art and music. Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu don’t only speak about systemic issues but also commonly-felt issues like heartbreak and being eerie of the people around you.”
Wright said that the beautiful thing about music is that “when you have a question about what you should do in a particular situation, sometimes turning on your Spotify will provide your answer.”
She added that in the moments she feels anxious, she likes to either sing or sketch and that both these forms of art are excellent methods of therapy.
Wright shares that she is not always confident and kind enough to herself when it comes to her singing. She advises other musicians and artists to maintain a secure, gentle, and growth mindset.
“Trust yourself, be kinder to yourself. Confidence is key, but also being open to constructive criticism. Had it not been for my mom when she said, ‘sing from your diaphragm, babe!’ I would not have the growth I have today. Constructive criticism gives you that sense of growth that makes you excited to sing more. Don’t think about people’s negative criticism, but if it is constructive, then take it seriously; this might help your growth in terms of where you want to go with your talent.”
“Some people don’t often take music seriously and don’t see it as a career path, but if that is something you want to do, absolutely go ahead with it,” said Wright.