Tuesday, April 8, 2008

WE COVER STORY - Brick and Lace’s Sexy Roots Music

By Natasha Samuels



I couldn’t help but notice the Internet buzz surrounding Konvict Muzik’s (Akon’s label) latest prodigy’s. But six seconds into my first listen of Brick and Lace’s Love is Wicked, I thought “oh God, not another diwali song”.

However, as soon as Nailah’s husky, sultry serenade began, my eyebrows raised with interest.

Nailah’s raspy voice, the harmonized lyrics, and the introduction of the brass instruments was just pure genius that breathe life into the over done diwali riddim. Not to mention the catchy lyrics had me belting out “your love is wicked” by my third listen of the song.

Curiosity led me to the to the female anthem “Never, Never.” I fell in love with the song, instantly. The beat the lyrics, even the re-mix tracks with Cham and KES the Band were pristine.

I knew then that I had not given the sisters a fair listen of their unique blend of R&B and Reggae, which they call sexy roots music.

A million questions-— who is who, how did they get this far, why didn’t I pay attention before-—, mulled through my head as I dialed their 876 connection sent from their 180 Entertainment manager, Chez.

After 3 rings, Nyanda, the older of the two sisters answers the phone.

Nailah and Nyanda Thorbourne are the drop-dead gorgeous sisters who make up the group, Brick and Lace.
The credit for their good looks goes to their black Jamaican father and white-American mother.

Their talent, well that’s just god given because these sisters didn’t get this far because of their striking faces and chiseled bodies. Yes, I know many would like to believe that they coasted to stardom but trust when I say that these girls can really sing. Check out their Next performance available on Yahoo music and judge for yourself.

Raised in a Christian home, the two sisters come from a family of four girls who are all blessed with beautiful voices.

Their journey in the “worldly” music industry began after Sharon Burke, the Solid Agency front woman, heard the sisters (there were three of them at the time) signing in a church.

After their successful audition, Burke paired the sisters with Reggae music A-listers, which included Marcia Griffiths, Diana King and Beres Hammond as backup singers.

When the sisters opened for the killing me softly songstress, Roberta Flack, in their native Jamaica, they were introduced to the world as Brick and Lace.
It was their mother they say who came up with “Lace” for the group name. Nyanda added, “Brick.”

The sisters with Burke’s guidance recorded tracks with dancehall icon Bounty which was received favorably in Jamaica.

With the group of three became two (older sister Tasha, who now resides in Toronto, decide to take a behind the scenes role with Brick and Lace’s development), people automatically assumed that one was Brick and the other was Lace.
And why not, as Nyanda, the sing-jay with the harder, edgy, look and the one that WE brick city ladies can relate to, would seemingly own the label Brick. Nailah, the R&B crooner, who most women aspire to be would seemingly own the label Lace.
“We are both Brick and Lace. Every woman is Brick and Lace. Every girl has that edgy side and every girl has that feminine side. And that’s what the name is really about.”

The sisters are artists in the truest sense. They wrote or co-wrote the songs on their debut album. Nailah (the blond) also plays the guitar and Nyanda (the brunette) reportedly plays the triangle, a musical instrument belonging to the percussion family.

Besides their passion for music, you can’t deny that the sisters have a lot going for them. Matter of fact, they could probably do whatever they chose to be. With their height (Nailah stands 5’9” and Nyanda stands 5’8”) and photogenic features, they could have easily graced magazine covers, or work the runways. (Did you see Nyanda’s strut and poses in their award nominated Love is Wicked video?)

They are smart too. Nailah is a graduate of St. Andrew High and Nyanda graduated from the prestigious Campion College. They were both doing the college thing, Nyla was pursuing a degree in Marketing at Miami Dade College and Nyanda was pursuing a degree in Advertising and Theater at the University of Miami, when they met Dallas Austin.

“Dallas Austin wanted to sign us to his publishing company. It would mean moving to Atlanta [and] so we ended up going to Atlanta. That’s where we really honed our writing skills.”

Working with the legendary producer proved to be a major stepping-stone for the sisters.

They were the first female Jamaican group to be signed to Jive Records before they departed from the label two months later for Geffen records.
Through Geffen, they met Akon who was slated to produce three songs on their debut album.

On working with Akon the sisters said that “the vibe and the chemistry was automatic. We had so much fun in the studio in terms of being able to relate to each other. I think that relationship just made [Akon] feel more like he wanted to be involved with the whole movement of the group.”

As a result, the sisters were signed to Akon’s Konvict Muzik label where they have been creating their unique sound that they call sexy roots music.

“We feel like [our songs] definitely has the roots vibes as we say in Jamaica. It’s down to earth, it’s approachable and we can hear the sincerity in the vocals. The sexy part is the R&B and the melodies are sweet to the ear. So it’s that vibe of dancehall meet R&B, so we call it sexy roots music,” they said.
They have also created sexy roots music with some of the top producers in the industry including: Cool and Dre, Full Force Productions, Tony Kelly, Will.I.Am, and Raphael Saadiq, just to name a few.

Signed to Sony publishing the girls have penned lyrics for other artists including Nicole Scherzinger of Pussycat doll fame. Along with publishing credits, the sisters can be heard on Scherzinger’s latest “Paukenikini” which Nyanda pronounces with authority as if the Hawaiian dialect is her own native tongue.

Last year they appeared on Akon’s set during his tour with Gwen Stefani.
“It was like 22,000 people every night. It was crazy. I think people were excited to see our set bringing something fresh and bringing that whole Caribbean vibe.”
Perhaps their success has a lot to do with not leaving the marketing of their unique sound solely in the hands of their label professionals.

“No sah, we doing our ting,” said Nyanda.
“No seriously as Jamaican and Caribbean artists you have to do what you have to do. You can’t wait. The record companies, it’s great to have them but you can’t wait on them. You have to do your own grind. We have to show them that there is another world that there is a market other than mainstream. [There] are a lot of Caribbean people in the world who want to connect with you and connect with the music. We have to reach that audience…you just kind of have to lead that way and show them.”
The uptown sisters were recently feted by the Jamaican music industry with multiple category nominations for the Jamaica Reggae Academy Awards and Excellence in Music and Entertainment Awards.

You can’t help but root for them, because deep down you know that they are well on their way of joining the ranks of the two Sean’s (Paul and Kingston) and Rihanna who are Caribbean artists who launched into international success with Caribbean music and heritage as their foundation.

www.myspace.com/brickandlace

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