She embodied music is a reflection of the human spirit and her presence on stage was as strong and independent as her demeanor while greeting those who had attended her performance that night, November 2nd, 2018. Her set had just finished at the well known Iowa City venue, Gabe’s, located downtown and she goes by the name Nova. She is an Iowan creative who is on her path toward her musical passions, aware of the hard work and obstacles that she continues to face as she continues forward.
Nova (23), born Shaniece Blackledge Wright, describes herself as being in a moment in her life that she really appreciates and noticing how everything is coming into fruition for her. She had just finished a busy month of performing around the Midwest, one of those four shows was at Gabe’s. She also performed in Madison, WI; Chicago, Il; and Rockford, IL. Of course, she also spoke of the music she's working on and how she is excited about the opportunities she received to keep creating in the studio and put out her projects.
Nova's late night performance at Gabe's, a location in downtown Iowa City, IA
In fact, it’s been a month of great growth for the artist; who is quick to note that she has been aware of the growth in her own nature, let alone her career. Claiming it to be refined and refreshed by saying, ”I can say I’m not the same person I was a month ago. I can even say that about this week or yesterday.” She said it has come with her ability to accept the things that happen in life, as she lit her palo santo to set the vibe. She had her notebooks all sprawled, displaying her plans that were listed out and her lyrics she had written. Occasionally there were doodles and arrows pointing in scattered directions to connect ideas or highlight certain points. One of the journals she had she called her “Brainstorming Book” which she takes everywhere and it is her go-to source to let her creative juices spill.
Currently, she lives with her sisters and grandparents in a small town. In the basement is where the magic happens, but in her room, there’s a whiteboard that’s etched with different colors and ideas about her album. Though Nova now lives here, she used to go to school at The University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State, but due to life’s struggles and God's plan, she’s followed a different path that is beginning to shape into a promising future. However, she still has to get there and pay bills. So, when she’s not making music, she is working two jobs. The first one is being a server at restaurant and bar in Cedar Falls, IA. The other job is working retail at a junior's boutique in Waterloo, IA.
The extra money she gets goes to studio time and the equipment that she sets up in the corner of her basement. There, she has her mic that’s dressed in scarves and surrounded by posters, one of them is of Tupac Shakur flipping off whoever is looking at him.
“I’m his daughter,” Nova said when attention had been brought onto the poster.
It makes sense, his influence shows and she mentioned that rap has impacted her as a writer. Other influences include the likes of James Brown, SZA, and Frank Ocean. Not only does she enjoy their music but she also respects and models herself after them, especially the confidence with their stage presence. It shows. She is similar to a young Supreme when she performs. She has a very calm demeanor that can only be described as swagger. It carries well on her and her voice is “hauntingly, beautiful," said a listener who had been shown Nova’s latest song “Sweet."
It would be a surprise if one does not hear more about Nova. Her down-to-earth nature is easy to relate with and, though she faces the typical struggles one would face when doing what feels right and what is a necessity to live for in today’s climate, she’s capable of possibly creating a career based off of what she loves to do if she continues to work hard. She’s currently doing well for herself in the Iowa music scene, but only time will tell if Nova is the star she seems to be that can shine beyond.