I first met Nina when we worked as waitresses at Le Braye. She couldn’t reach the glasses, and I consistently smashed them, so we were a really poor team. What we lacked in talent we made up for with charisma. Yes, your flat white was served the temperature of tepid bathwater. And no, you didn’t get what you ordered. But you did find it funny when I thought your career in hedge funds made you a gardener. And your fish tacos did arrive, albeit twenty minutes late.

Nina is now 24 years old, and would loosely define herself as a Neo-Soul Artist with a “deep thick sound”. Her guilty pleasure is belting a powerhouse track – a break in the discipline of balancing “light and shade”. Despite her time at the Royal Northern College of Music, Nina refuses to give in to ‘musical snobbery’. She relies on P!nk for encouragement in tough times, particularly the banger ‘Never Gonna Not Dance Again’. She says “the chorus slaps so hard”, and if she’s ever sad “it gets blasted out”. Naturally, her housemates are obliged to stop whatever they’re doing and dance around with her. She says “it’s become a habit of ours” and that she’d “recommend it to everyone”.

Nina is no stranger to hard times. Two years ago she felt there was something slightly off with her voice. The doctors told her she had vocal nodules, which she passionately reflects on as “lies”. A year later she discovered that she had been misdiagnosed, but no one could identify the real issue. Because of this, she had to make the decision to stop singing completely. She told me she was “heart broken”, and this all went on for another year.

Eventually she discovered there was a problem with her Odema. Her very rare condition affects less than 1% of the population. The culprit: Silent Acid Reflux. This is a “really sexy” issue that I can also relate to. A dreadful round of doxycycline once drove me to drink Gaviscon like water. The worst part about it was that when I explained this to people, they always wanted to know what I had taken. This lead to many an awkward altercation where people assumed I’d had chlamydia. It was an absolute nightmare – my own personal brand of hell.

Nina’s version of hell was not knowing whether her vocal chords would be chopped to bits. Going into surgery, she recalls that she “had no clue what to expect or the damage that would be done”. But she “was tired of waiting around” and gave the necessary permissions to have the procedure. Simply put, she adopted the mantra “if it’s not meant to be then it’s not meant to be”. Luckily nothing went under the knife, and Nina bounced back quickly in hot pursuit of her singing career. 

She was on a mission to play catch up on the years she had lost, wanting to “hit the ground running”. The hard-work paid off, and she had her debut headline in Manchester by February 2024. Off the back of this gig, she was asked to headline Club Academy in Manchester in May. Talking about this experience, Nina said:

“Seeing my name up on Manchester Academy’s Gig List, alongside crazy artists that I look up to was surreal. There I was about to perform on the same stage they were? It was a gig that was unforgettable for me.”

She’s going on to play at Green Island Festival in Manchester, and she reminds us that this is “not to be mistaken with Green Island in Jersey”. You laugh, but it had one of Nina’s friends fooled. Reflecting on the misunderstanding, Nina recalled “it really tickled me”. Instead of a beach in St Clements, the festival is going to be held at a community garden centre. She is looking forward to beautiful scenery, immaculate vibes and a beer in the sun. If you’re heading up North and want to see Nina perform, you’d better be quick because it’s almost sold out. And as of yet, she’s only been serenading people live.

Everyone’s always asking Nina where they can go to listen to her music. I was severely disappointed when I couldn’t find her on Spotify. Nina is meaning to get recording and releasing, but when she came back to the playing field all she wanted to do was perform. She is also a self-professed perfectionist, and said she doesn’t want to look back on what she released like “ahh, wish I didn’t do that”.

Deciding how to brand yourself as an emerging artist is difficult. Even Post Malone did it awfully. Lana del Ray used to go by the name Sparkle Jump Rope Queen, and Billie Eilish went from emo-spider to Marilyn Monroe overnight. The industry demands definition. But what if you just don’t know yet?

Nina knows it’s important to be confident in her trade. Even when you don’t feel ready to back yourself yet. She believes that “everything happens for a reason, and if you doubt yourself, then you open the door for others to doubt you too”. Her boldness is admirable, and rewarded by the fact that she is singing all over the place this year (apparently everywhere but Green Island). Somewhere between all these performances she’s going to enter her recording and releasing season. The people have been left in suspense for too long. But when the food is on the table, who even remembers how long the wait took? I’m sure we won’t remember the days when NinaRosa didn’t have banging tunes on Spotify. 

Photography: Cameron Aird

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