Confidence is a theme that’s run through Oklahoma singer-songwriter Nia Moné’s life.
The 20-something has benefitted from living in various part of the world outside the USA due to both parents’ military careers. Residing in the United Kingdom, she was digging the vocal stylings of Jessie J and Amy Winehouse at a young age.
But early on, Moné wasn’t sure her own voice was up to those standards. Devotion to her art and persistent exercise of it have proven otherwise.
“I wanted to sing like them, but didn’t think I was that good,” she said. “Eventually I joined choir in middle school and high school, and it gave me more confidence. So I knew where I was going. Ever since then, I just practice every day now.”
That routine daily training of her vocal cords has paid off. Norman had an opportunity this summer to hear Moné when she played a show as part of the Legacy Park concert series. Her smooth, soulful delivery sounded like that of a veteran, rather than a novice at the start of her career.
Moné was joined onstage at that show by collaborator Original Flow (government name: Christopher G. Acoff). Their clever song swap format included a riff on the incalculable value of confidence. There was a contrast in their sounds.
Moné has a chill, jazzy vibe and Original Flow is a higher intensity rapper. They dovetailed the two grooves seamlessly.
“Now I love the versatility of what I’m doing,” Moné said. “I feel like I can express all degrees of myself in music. Not just through my singing, but the outfits I’m wearing. It’s a dream of mine I’ve had since I was really young to be able to do it how I actually want to. Not go a specific route, but just be me.”
At the Legacy Park gig, Moné was wearing a chic white bustier top with blue and white Mondrian-reminiscent checked slacks and white kitten heels. She gave a shoutout to Dig It OKC boutique in the Plaza District. Garments are among Moné’s diverse artistic influences.
“I take inspiration not just from several musical artists, but I also love painters and even architects,” she said. “Architecture has a frequency to it. Among vocalists, I like the diary-feel to Amy Winehouse’s music and how she was pulling her heart out to get over whatever she was going through. I also like Kings of Leon’s writing style, their strange analogies and how they even make those connections. I also love Afrofuturism and futuristic things.”
Moné is a songwriter who wisely writes about what she knows.
“So far I haven’t written about anything that hasn’t happened to me, and usually in pretty specific situations,” she said. “It’s easiest to write about love. My songs are like a musical diary, a bunch of things I’ve gone through. Emotionally or actual events.”
Moné is very much an active and contributing member of the central Oklahoma creative community.
“I like the different perspective that comes from collaborating with others,” she said. “It’s really interesting to see how someone else creates rather than just sticking with my own style. But also it’s just fun. I like talking to people and getting to know where they’re coming from. Networking is something I like to do, and it’s a good way to grow and know a lot of people.”
Moné has lived in Oklahoma for a decade. Artistically, she came of age here.
“This is where I got to start my creative journey,” she said. “This is where I went for being a singer. Oklahoma has a lot of talent that’s untouched. It’s a secret pocket.”
Oklahoma hip hop scene visual artist Jaiye Farrell encouraged Moné to get her groove on as a vocalist.
“One day when I was around 20, I was braiding his hair and telling him what I wanted to do,” Moné said. “He told me that when I was 21, to get out there and start performing at venues and talking to people. His sister is my best friend, and she encouraged me to write music.”
Original Flow (rapper Acoff) has been mentoring Moné since she met him early on in the music scene. They’re an item now.
“He has good energy and is very genuine,” she said. “We like to talk about music and business and have always got along really well.”
Moné has exceptional stage presence in addition to velvet smooth pipes. She’s learned a lot in a short time, which has built confidence.
“I’m myself on stage and love just having fun by being on stage with a live band who are my friends,” she said. “Along with crowd participation, connecting with the people in front of me and behind me, that’s my favorite thing about all this.”
Moné will be performing a free concert Sunday afternoon as part of Mesta Festa in Oklahoma City at Perle Mesta Park, 1900 N. Shartel Ave.