Five Minutes With Austin Music Legend Nakia

by Leean Vargas on February 15, 2021 in Entertainment, Music, Austin,
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Nakia quickly became a fan favorite on season one of NBC’s “The Voice,” when he used his big grizzly voice to transform pop songs into his own unique style. 

But long before Nakia was a semifinalist on CeeLo Green’s team, he was a beloved member of the Austin music community, fronting bands, performing solo and working with some of music’s biggest names.

Nakia’s new single, ‘It’s Never Too Late,’ was co-written with eight-year-old Charlie Cotton.

Now, fan favorite Nakia has premiered his latest single, ‘It’s Never Too Late.’ The song is inspired and co-written by eight-year-old Charlie Cotton, son of actress and musician Savannah Welch, who is a founding member of The Trishas and known for her acting roles in the Oscar nominated film “Boyhood,” as well as a colorful portfolio of independent films. 

The inspiring song was Nakia’s response to reading a heartfelt social media post of his dear friend. Savannah wrote about what her young son Charlie told her.

The track is available for purchase on Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon music. At least 50% of the Bandcamp sales will go to Austin-based mental health nonprofit The SIMS Foundation.

Long before Nakia was a “The Voice” semifinalist on CeeLo Green’s team, he was a beloved member of the Austin music community, fronting bands, performing solo and working with some of music’s biggest names. Photo courtesy Nakia and Charlie

We caught up with Nakia to discuss music and his new single. 

What was it like for you growing up?

I grew up in a small town in northeast Alabama. It’s actually the same town the country music supergroup Alabama is from. No one in my family was a professional musician, but my mother played piano and sent me to take lessons from her teacher. I started singing as soon as I could talk (maybe sooner) and spent a great deal of time listening to Top 40 radio as a kid. Growing up in the ‘80s meant listening to everything from Duran Duran and Prince to ZZ Top and KISS. I was bullied a lot as a kid and my parents weren’t always around so I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandmother learning to paint and watching soap operas.

Eight-year-old Charlie Cotton is the son of actress and musician Savannah Welch, who is a founding member of The Trishas and known for her acting roles in the Oscar nominated film “Boyhood.” Photo courtesy Nakia and Charlie

What first got you into music?

The first band that really got me was KISS, after seeing them on a segment of the PBS show, ‘3,2,1, Contact’ in 1979. After that, it’s really a toss up between my sister Kelli’s radio listening habits and my parent’s record collection.

Who inspires you?

Tom Petty, Sharon Jones, and Dolly Parton are three of the most inspirational musicians I look up too. I’m also really inspired by folks like Lizzo, Janelle Monae, and Danny Elfman.

What was it like being on season one of NBC’s “The Voice” and working with CeeLo Green?

It was fantastic! 10/10 would do again and recommend. Especially because I was on season one. CeeLo was a lot of fun to hang with during the show and even more fun to get to know when the show was wrapped. We even got tattoos together on Sunset Strip back in 2012.

The song ‘It’s Never Too Late’ is inspired by and co-written with eight-year-old Charlie Cotton. Photo courtesy Nakia and Charlie

Tell us about your newest single with 8-year-old Charlie Cotton, “It’s Never Too Late.”

The song is really only possible because of the relationship between Charlie and his mother Savannah (who was just announced as the new “Barbara Gordon” on the HBOMax series, Titans’). Because Charlie trusts her and speaks his heart to her, he was able to go to her one day and say, “You know, Mom, it’s never too late for things to get better for anyone. It’s never too late to start over and try again.”

I immediately started singing the song into my phone and once I had a verse or so down I reached out and asked Charlie to help me write the bridge. The song is really about love, kindness and empathy. Stuff the world could use a lot more of right now, so a lot of my friends refer to the song as “musical medicine.”

What do you want people to take away from the single?

The themes of this song are so important. I would love for folks who hear it to ask themselves what they’ve been putting off because they think it’s too late. An apology owed? Going back to school? Telling that special someone how you feel about them? It’s never too late to try again.

What’s next for you?

I wish I could say it was a vacation, but that will have to wait until the world is truly reopened. In the meantime, I’ve written and recorded multiple projects during the pandemic including a single I released on Halloween called “Private Hell,” a full length 15-song musical for an episode of an indie web series I write music for and act in, and a brand new EP of my more ‘80s influenced songs. I’ll also be launching a subscription service to my fans this summer that will give them all the new stuff but a ton of archival material that’s never been seen or heard.


Cover photo courtesy Nakia and Charlie Cotton

Leean Vargas is an Editorial Assistant at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and an honors graduate of

Texas State University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations.

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