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We caught up with N'Kenge, the singer who is in Motown: The Musical.

My name is N'Kenge. I grew up in NY, in both The Bronx and Brooklyn. I am a pop-soul and opera chic singer and originated the role of Mary Wells in Motown: The Musical on Broadway. 

I have naturally curly hair and my style varies depending on my mood (and sometimes project I am working on). One day I am very glam, and the next day I can be funky. I can be showcasing a sporty look but will still throw a flower in my hair and some sparkly earrings. I love making a statement with my look.

Berry Gordy has been a wonderful mentor to me. He not only was a fantastic songwriter, but he built an empire called Motown; I admire and respect him so much.

Pursuing performing as a profession

My teachers and mentors saw that I had a talent for singing and I loved performing. After winning competitions in high school and going through undergrad and graduate studies at both Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School, I went to work immediately. I was ecstatic by the idea that I could really make my passion my profession.

My musical influences

Berry Gordy has been a wonderful mentor to me. He not only was a fantastic songwriter, but he built an empire called Motown; I admire and respect him so much. My vocal teacher, Martina Arroyo, has made her legacy as not only an amazing opera singer, but has a wonderful foundation and is constantly encouraging. Whitney Houston has the golden voice--I have idolized her since I was a little girl. Her sheer brilliance in stage presence and sound inspired me everyday to pursue my dream of being a singer.

Incorporating opera into my work

Opera is my foundation, so I am always trying to incorporate it in my music and projects. There is a musical revue I created called LEGENDS! that celebrates the music and lives of leading ladies from Nina Simone to Leontyne Price.

I also wrote a song that will be on my forthcoming album with angelslikerebels.com called Goosebump Moment that is pop with a Latin flavor. It has some opera in it, too. My recording project is with this new indie label, Angels Like Rebels, who have created a crowdfunding platform that allows fans to contribute to my career plus earn a profit from my album and merchandise earnings. It's quite exciting for both me as an artist and all my fans who support me.

Who I do this for

Definitely my daughter, Jahzara Martina. I wake up to that smile of hers that can heal a nation if given the opportunity...ha ha. I want to leave behind a legacy that she is proud of. In the near future, I hope to be wiser and enjoy a musical journey that takes me to more countries performing my music and crossing over to TV and film. I see myself producing and creating more of my own projects and being able to have outlets that will take these projects to the masses. 

Keep up with me

My website is www.nkengemusic.com and I am very active on social media. N'Kenge's Music on Facebook, @Divankenge on Instagram and @DivaKenge on Twitter. Anyone who wants to support my forthcoming album can contribute directly at http://www.angelslikerebels.com/#Artist:N'Kenge

Devri Velázquez

NC Content Editor Devri is a passionate writer with a deep appreciation for all forms of expressive art and culture. After being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease in 2011, Devri's personal mission has been to empower other women to focus on their individual self-care and wellness.

Instagram: Devri Velázquez
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