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Diamond in the rough

by Leigh-Ann Worrell

CAUTION: Work in Progress.

leisureakashakunarMusical diamond in the rough Nikita Akasha Kunar is ready to reveal the glow of her multifaceted personality, music and charm to Barbados and beyond.

The pretty, curly-haired singer/songwriter has come a long way to So Right, her first single which has been receiving good airplay on Starcom’s LOVE fm. In two years, she has been able to learn how to deal with stage fear, strong sensitivity to criticism and embrace her dyslexia.

“When I was younger, [dyslexia] was harder for me to deal with. People did not understand it. Sometimes, people would make this awful joke when someone did something that could be considered stupid, and they would reply, “oh, you like you dyslexic!”… and I would be like, really?…I don’t see dyslexia as a problem. I believe all of us are special in our own way and my dyslexia is one of my special points,” she told Barbados TODAY in a chat over coffee this morning.

In fact, the 20-year-old credited the learning challenge as what keeps her motivated in music.

“I think it helps me to be creative… I don’t think I would have held on to music if not for my if I could operate like everyone else,” she reflected.

The Ellerslie Secondary alumna admitted having dyslexia does have its dark days, but she has been able to overcome, as evidenced by the fact that she writes her own songs, including So Right. The KB Sharp-produced song was actually not completed when she went to the studio last November. In spite of that minor detail, it was the song that attracted the most attention from the producer and his team.

“I had a lot of songs but… they chose [So Right] and I had to finish it right away,” Akasha recalled, “I wanted the song to be fun, flirtatious and exciting and it was different for me, so I was excited that was my first single.”

Interested in music from the time she was seven and convinced “life was a musical”, experiences both repelled and pulled a sensitive Akasha to the stage throughout tween and teen years. By chance, she met music entrepreneur George Thomas through a neighbour, who both thought she had ‘the look’. A few days later, Thomas introduced her to KB Sharp and team and the ball was rolling on Akasha’s first single.

The upbeat track love song was not always as happy as it became, however. Always a serious child, singing optimistic songs does not come easy for Akasha.

“From a young age my parents knew I was going to be a little different. I wanted to control things and I [used to say things like] I wanted to make sure that men paid their child support, so my mum was convinced I was going to be a judge…,” she remembered with a laugh.

“At first when I wrote So Right, it was very depressing. It was about a girl who wants a guy she could not get and it was sad and gloomy… At that time I was still very serious, then I realised there is a fun side of me that many people don’t get to see.”

Modeling was instrumental in bringing out not only Akasha’s fun side, but also out of her introverted shell. She started modeling last June, and has walked in the Dominica and BB Fashion weeks. Akasha is also one of the faces of Kesia Estwick’s Kiss+Girl line.

“When you are modeling it is a cut-throat industry and I was a little wimp before. If you shout at me too hard, I would go and cry…,” she began, “With modeling…people are not being mean on purpose, but they would tell you how it is. From doing that, I learned how to put on a persona and then it started to unlock another side of me and it started to impact my performing and my personality in general…” A taste of the modeling world also gave her the guts to try out for Honey Jam Barbados, a musical showcase of top female talent.

“I made a million excuses not to go. I had a jaw injury and I had a splint in my jaw. I went down to the audition, took out the splint and sang Summertime. When I saw those other girls, I was convinced I would not get through. Those girls knew what they were about,” she admitted.

Even though she was successful, Akasha’s insecurities would come creeping back once rehearsals started. The experience was still a learning one for her, as she realised how to work with what she had – flaws and all.

The singer maintains her serious side inside the science laboratories at the University of the West Indies, where she is a biochemistry major. The first-year student told Barbados TODAY she discovered her love for the sciences at secondary school and continues to be thrilled by the challenge. Akasha also graduated from the Barbados Community College after studying physics, biology and environmental sciences there.

As to whether she will continue to toil over the bunsen burner or burn tracks in the music lab, the Christian was certain God would show her the way.

“Science has always been there. It has been my old faithful, it is still hard and… I like that. Right now, I am taking it as it is. If God has something for me, no one can take it away.”

Until then, Akasha said she will continue to write, work on collaborations with other artists and define her sound.

“I will take my time, see how it is received… and after that is done I will listen to whatever my fans are telling me. I want to make sure my fans are involved in my development they are who are important to me…. I am happy for my humble beginnings, because it shows me where I can go and that I can reach further.”

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