Many of us remember the iconic “Making The Band” days, where people from all over the country competed against one another to ultimately form a group. But what if you already knew that the competitors had the talent and had proven so with their successful music careers? That’s the concept behind the new reality show, “BET Present The Encore,” a show that pairs women from the music industry together in a house to see if they can form another supergroup.
The first season of the show features artists Shamari DeVoe of Blaque, Irish Grinstead and LeMisha Grinstead from 702, Felisha King of Cherish, Fallon King and Pamela Long of Total, Aubrey O’ Day from Danity Kane, Kiely Williams of 3LW and the lone solo artist Nivea Nash.
We had the chance to chat with Nivea exclusively ahead of tonight’s premiere of the show. See what she had to say about the experience of being on the show, getting back into music and more.
MadameNoire: I’m sure people have approached you with the idea of doing a reality show before now…
Nivea: Girl! Chile. I’ve been avoiding reality tv for years.
MadameNoire: Why was this the right opportunity for you?
Nivea: I just know I’m very free spirited as well as my mouth so I was just never really interested for fear of what I may say that I couldn’t take back and it’s recorded forever. But this particular opportunity, being that it’s about music and that’s been my life. And women empowerment, I was all for it. I wanted to do something different. Coming back into music and my career at this point, so I thought why not go for it, so I did.
MN: Can you explain the premise of the show. I think a lot of people are saying it sounds interesting but they’re not exactly sure what will be happening. The women on the show are already established, already household names, including yourself so what is the purpose of forming another supergroup or girl group?
Nivea: I know from the other ladies, outside of myself, were or are a part of successful girl groups so the idea came from Carlos King—how about putting former group members or former female singers together to form something we’ve never seen before. And I think that was exciting. It’s more so why did I do it? I can understand why the other ladies were interested as well. It’s been a while since most of us have been actively pursuing music. And so being that they come from groups, I don’t think I’d be opposed to forming a supergroup with other former girl group members.
We did not know who the other girls would be so it was a really big surprise. So wait honey, as we walked through the door, it was like, ‘Oh you!’ I think the whole idea was kind of cool to us and a step back into our music careers.
MN: You’re the only one who’s always been a solo artist, why were you open to being in a group at this point in your career?
Nivea: Just to try something different! And I feel like unfortunately, we lack a lot of the female operated and owned businesses thriving. It’s not enough one-on-one female to female support. We’re quick to tear each other down. We really don’t have each other’s backs like a lot of us like to say. A lot of us, amongst this group, have had past experiences in the music industry where a situation may have gone bad and the blame or reason was due to a male.
So, we’re like with predominately women involved in this situation—if men are eliminated—let’s see if we as females can come together and make this work. I think we were attracted to the challenge. You never know. A lot of times, we get stuck in our career, figuring there’s only one way or one road. And your journey is your journey. You’re supposed to be open to things in order to grow and expand. So that’s what this was for me, another step in the direction of growth.
MN: Did you know any of the other women before you did the show?
Nivea: No. I met most of them. I met Shamari before and I believe I met Kiely when 3LW first started out but we didn’t have each other’s phone numbers. We weren’t even following each other on social media. We had no connection, I didn’t anyway.
MN: And then who did you gravitate towards once you were all together?
Nivea: I had my own little thing with everyone but I was very much closer to Shamari (from the group Blaque) and Pam (from Total.) And it could be due to the fact that Shamari and I are both from Atlanta. Pam and I share the exact same birthday. I don’t know if it’s the same year but it’s the same date. And Shamari and I shared rooms and we shared a bathroom with Pam so we couldn’t escape each other.
MN: You’ve spoken a lot about how you took time away from your career to raise your children. Why do you feel like now is a good time to get back out there in terms of your career?
Nivea: Number one, honey, when opportunity knocks…and I’m in a different space now. It does to pertain to my children but it pertains to me as well. Years ago, I wasn’t really prepared. I dealt with a lot of up and down and inspiration moments where I didn’t know what I wanted to do, if anything at damn all.
My daughter is 16 now. My twin boys are 15 and my youngest is almost 12. So I have a lot more freedom than I used to allow myself when they were younger. All of that plays a part in it, definitely.
MN: What would you say you learned about yourself as an artist participating in this show?
Nivea: That I definitely know how to work well with others. I already knew that but it further confirmed. The way I slid into a position where I was—I don’t want to say completely unexperienced—but in a girl group, I was completely inexperienced. However, just knowing how to work with people, I definitely applied that skill and it alone helped me be a fairly good group member.
MN: What would you say you liked about working with other women?
Nivea: I’m going to steal Shamari’s quote. She said, ‘Less work for me!’ And I felt that. It’s like bayybee, I’m used to doing all the backgrounds—I’m actually not a vocalist that has to do every part. Sometimes you want a male vocalist or just a different tone than yours. A lot of singers do incorporate other singers to fill in. However, it is less work. I didn’t get to write really. We did one song where we did a portion a piece and I don’t even know if we’re using that particular record. So I quickly recognized this isn’t the Nivea show. If you don’t get to write, it’s okay. If you don’t sing all the lead parts, if you just hum on there, it’s a group effort.
MN: What would you say to people to encourage them to tune in?
Nivea: Keep watching. There’s a lot that develops over the course of the show and it’s a great entertaining watch. There’s so many different voices and personas that you’re going to get out of the show. And maybe in the end, we’ll get a super girl group out of it, something we haven’t seen in years.
You can watch the premiere of “BET Presents The Encore” tonight, Wednesday, June 9 at 10 p.m. EST/PST on BET and BET Her.