What you need to know:
- Nikita says she has drawn vocal influences from global stars like Jennifer Hudson, Beyoncé, Jasmine Sullivan, Kofee and Tems.
- Nikita has worked with big names in the industry over the years, including Sauti Sol, Juma Jux and Otile Brown.
On December 4, 2011, Kenyans were introduced to a nine-year-old girl with an enormous voice during Emmy Kosgei’s launch of her album Ololo (No Turning Back) on national television.
Nikita Kering was the girl who gave a vibrant performance of Emmy’s Taunet Nelel, and the nation took note.
Music, she says, has always been her passion, but what got her this far was her parents. Her father has been the base of her support, while mum pushed her every step of the way.
Now 19 and with a six-track extended play (EP) expected to come out in two months, and fresh from celebrating a milestone of 200,000 followers on Instagram, Nikita, still a vocal force to reckon with, says she is now confident enough to chart her own path.
The more she got exposed to pop, R&B and contemporary music and literature at school as she grew up, the more she felt at home with a much younger and hip sound. She has drawn vocal influences from global stars like Jennifer Hudson, Beyoncé, Jasmine Sullivan, Kofee and Tems.
“The older I got, the bigger expectations became. I was no longer just the little girl with a great voice. People wanted to see more of what I could do,” she says.
Nikita wrote her first song, Happy With You, at the age of 15.
“I didn’t know I could compose songs before that because everyone was telling me to sing in a particular way,” she says.
'Better Than Ever'
She recently released a song from her EP, Better Than Ever, a love song.
“I love studying people’s experiences of love and break-ups and giving them a deeper meaning; a different view. These are my wishes and dreams of how I expect love to be, from an innocent perspective of someone who is yet to experience these things,” she says.
Nikita has worked with big names in the industry over the years, including Sauti Sol during their virtual Christmas performance, and recently at a concert headlined by Juma Jux and Otile Brown.
“Having people 15 years older than I am calling me their peer makes me want to work even harder. I look at their successes and wonder how much more I can achieve by the time I get to their age. That keeps me from slowing down,” she says.
Having been focused on her music, Nikita says she is yet to try out the dating scene. But it hasn’t stopped people from “sliding” into her DMs (sending direct messages to her social media accounts).
“Shoot your shot if you want to, but I don’t respond to inappropriate ones. I would also ‘slide’ into a guy’s DM and tell him I like his style or something. But I feel like someone is diverting me from my goal when they want to start going out with me,” she says.
An advocate for body positivity and consciousness, she believes women — no matter their size or shape — shouldn’t be sexualised or told what they can or can’t wear as long as they are comfortable.
Nikita’s parents advised her against having all her eggs in one basket and she has earned off her image through endorsements and appearances, doing corporate gigs, and from streaming.
She was unveiled as the new ambassador for Samsung during the launch of their S21 models in January, joining actress Foi Wambui and rapper Nyashinski as young entertainers who are ambassadors of the brand.
“I had been familiar with their devices and how much easier they would make my creative process. I also respected that they knew exactly how we can bring the best out of each other as two different brands,” says Nikita.
But she still takes breather from work.
“Because of the age factor, there was a time in my life I was super famous and I needed something to clear my head. I love cooking and baking, and making cosmetic products; hair and make-up. I’d also make eye shadow from food colour. When beauty materials were expensive about seven years ago, I would try hacks like making hair rollers from toilet paper inside rolls or learning how to curl hair using a spoon. I also enjoy horse-riding.”
Later on in her career, “at the age of 35”, Nikita would like to turn her hobbies into businesses, too.