Ypsilanti-native Neisha Neshae talks her growing career

eisha Neshae has been through it. From growing up in foster care away from her mother-who was in prison-to dropping out of high school and surviving abuse, the journey hasn’t been easy for this 19-year-old Ypsilanti native. Now on the cusp of her stardom, just co-signed by Timbaland, Diggy Simmons and Young Dolph, Neshae is translating her pain into song, scoring a viral hit, “On a Cloud.”

“Cloud” has racked up more than 1 million hits across various web media, largely through SoundCloud, the millennial-era launch pad for many artists. We caught up with Neshae during a break in her ever-growing schedule.

How does it feel coming from the small town of Ypsilanti?

When people ask where I’m from, I still say Ypsilanti. But it’s hard coming from a small city, because people have these high standards for what I should be repping. They want to support and see their artists win, but it’s too much controversy. Even with the pressure I will always represent Ypsilanti, Detroit and Michigan as a whole.

When did it click you wanted to become a musician?

I started writing when I was in the sixth grade. My mom would send me poems and tape recordings while (she was) incarcerated, and that’s how we communicated back and forth, which inspired me to continue writing poems.

I took things seriously by joining the school and church choir. When I had my first performance in school, the rush I felt was amazing, and I had to continue on. I became popular at school for my voice. People would always ask me to sing for them, and I used to hate it. Things have obviously changed, because now I’m all for singing for people.


You got some face time with Timbaland recently. How was that?

It is unbelievable. You don’t get that much time with these people. When I met Timbaland, it was for five minutes in a loud club where it was hard to hear. I know I’m not Aaliyah or any of the other well-known artists he’s worked with, but I know I am me. I am all about showing the world my talents.

Some of your fans like to call you a young Rihanna. How do you feel about that?

Everything feels like a surprise. It’s a blessing to be compared to great people in the music industry. However, I would love a song with Rihanna where we can show of our different authentic voices.

What do you want to be known for as an artist?

I want to be known as the overachiever. To be the voice for teenagers and young adults. I want to encourage people to keep going. Especially for people who were in foster care and survived abuse like me.

Which female artists and songs inspire you the most and why?

Alicia Keys, because she stands for Black empowerment. I like her style and she can sang. Beyoncé also inspires me because she stands by the things she stands by, which is motivating. Lastly, Dej Loaf because of her overcoming sexism. She set a new bar for what females thought was impossible in this industry. She is the reason why I was discovered.

The songs that I can relate to the most are “16 @ War” by Karina Pasian and “Runaway Love” by Ludacris and Mary J. Blige. Those types of records I generally have a real connection to.

Do you ever think of collaborating with other artists or playing in new genres?

I am real versatile. R&B is my main sound but I used to sing in church, so I can do gospel. I really want a song with Mary J. or Future or Usher. But I’m open to jump genres. If any artist that impresses me came to me with good music, I would love to create magic together. I even wonder how I would sound in a country song? I believe it would be hype!

What advice do you have for artists trying to make it in the industry like you?

Stick to being you, because if you allow people to tweak your style, it could really mess things up. I want to teach my fans to love themselves. Manifesting things to yourself is real. In this industry, you can easily lose yourself. Once you try to be someone else, you can’t give the genuine you; that’s why there are one-hit wonders. I’m not here to make a few top hit songs. I want albums. The more you work on your goals and invest in faith, it’ll happen. Never lose the faith.

Check out more from Neisha’s SoundCloud and YouTube.

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