Rarely before has a debut album brimmed with such an unmistakable slew of hit singles, from the dancefloor funk of "Count The Party", produced by Organized Noize (TLC, Outkast), to the warning shot of "If you Mess" produced by Roy Hamilton and the soulful, heartwarming"25 Reasons", produced by DARP (TLC) and co-written by Nivea.
"I think there's such a cross section of material and a wide range of issues I'm singing about that not only teens can relate to it, but all ages" enthuses Nivea. "The great thing about the album, though, is that they all relate to me personally. I really feel everything I sing. All these songs are personal in one way or another.
Nivea Hamilton was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the youngest of three sisters and raised in a musical household. Like most aspiring singers in the south, the church played a pivotal role in bringing the naturally shy Nivea out of her shell. But rather than the choir and the pulpit, it was the TV and a performance by Mariah Carey of her debut single "Vision Of Love" on the Apollo, when Nivea was just seven, that convinced the Atlanta youngster where her own future lay.
"Seeing her really inspired me" Nivea remembers. "I bought her first album, learned all her songs. From then on my life growing up was all about singing. I had a one track mind."
Nivea's dreams started to near fruition upon the introduction to Colin Lampkin, at the time recording studio owner in the Atlanta area, who traded his stake in the business, to manage the then 15 year-old singer on a full time basis. The path they managed to carve over the next two years is a tribute to their commitment to their cause which saw Nivea finally securing a record deal through those tried and trusted bedfellows- hard work and pure talent.
Through CL's contacts and sheer persistence and persuasion, Nivea ended up recording demos and referencing songs for various top rung Atlanta producers. "We just hung out at studios and tried to slide her in any way we could" recalls CL. "In the end we had a 26 song demo completed with a cast list of big name producers, that most record companies would only dream of securing themselves...and it was recorded for virtually nothing!" Needless to say, word soon spread about Nivea in A&R offices across the country. Both manager and artist had their sights set on Jive Records, though impressed at the company's incredible winning streak through such acts as Britney Spears, R. Kelly, *Nsync, The Backstreet Boys and Joe. So astounded were the label at Nivea's voice, age and the nature of her demo, that it was only a formality before she put pen to paper. Not, though, before the label contacted some of the producers purported to have worked on Nivea's demo for themselves, to check what they were hearing was, in fact true! "Yeah it's funny" laughs Nivea now. "The label couldn't believe I worked with all these producers before I got a record deal. I guess it made their job a little easier when it came to signing me." The end result is that an impressive seven songs from Nivea's original demo have made it to the album's final cut, earning the teen and her manager executive producer credits and the position to head their own production company based in the Atlanta area which is already stocked with offices and a recording studio. Reflecting on her path so far and the glittering career that lies ahead of her, Nivea is reassuringly grounded. "I haven't had the easiest of upbringings by any means. I've worked very hard for what I've got so far. It's shown me that hard work does pay off. I don't take anything for granted. I know that music and singing is my life. All I wanted was for someone to give me a foot in the door and I'd bust it open for myself. I look at the careers of people like Janet, Aretha and Mariah and that inspires me. That's what I'm aiming for. Now I seem to have that foot in the door, watch me go!"