14-year-old Nia Faith Gray set for the stage at the Apollo Theater

mhankerson@newsobserver.comApril 4, 2014 

Nia Faith Gray, a 14-year-old from Knightdale, has spent the last few years dabbling in music, learning guitar, piano and working on her vocal technique. She will perform at the Apollo Theater on April 9.

COURTESY OF CHRISTINA GRAY

  • Want to watch?

    To watch Nia Faith Gray’s performance, log on to amateurnight.org on April 9 at 7:30 p.m.

— Christina Gray knew her daughter, Nia Faith Gray, was made to be on stage when she was in 2nd grade at Forestville Road Elementary School.

Nia Faith was chosen to be in the school’s production of “The Nutcracker” and when Christina Gray went to help her memorize her lines, she found Nia Faith had already done it.

Now, the Knightdale 8th-grader who attends the Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy is Harlem-bound, scheduled to perform at Amateur Night at the Apollo on April 9.

Nia Faith will take the stage to sing Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire.”

Nia Faith visited the Apollo Theater in October and sang a quick rendition of Ariana Grande’s “Tattooed Heart.” The tour guide suggested she send in an official audition tape and now, the 14-year-old has landed a performance spot.

“She has it in her, what she chooses to do with it, we’ll leave it up to her to see where it goes,” Christina Gray said.

All in the family

Nia Faith said she always enjoyed singing, but when she was younger she was a little more shy about it. She would often sing in her room to herself.

“We noticed she was a baby that cried from her diaphragm, she projected (and) once she started talking, it continued,” Christina Gray said.

Christina Gray had an ear for musical talent, and her husband and Nia Faith’s father, Steve Gray, was part of the ’80s R&B group 4 By Four. The group was signed to Capital Records, which also signed artists like Tina Turner and the Beastie Boys.

“Sometimes it makes me laugh because it’s weird to see your parents when they were a little bit older then you,” Nia Faith said about her dad’s past music career. “It’s still really cool he got that opportunity at such a young age.”

Christina and Steve Gray dated through Steve Gray’s time in 4 by Four, which leaves Christina with a knack for managing Nia Faith’s musical pursuits.

Although Christina often schedules trips like the one that originally brought Nia Faith to the Apollo, she said Nia Faith ultimately steers her own musical ship.

Nia Faith learned how to play guitar because her father did it. Later, after a cousin’s piano recital, Nia Faith wanted to learn piano herself and asked for a piano for Christmas (she got a Yamaha keyboard to start with).

Now, Nia Faith has the ability to make her own music and her dad can help with production and editing.

Looking forward

Even though her father enjoyed the perks of being a signed musical artist, Nia Faith and Christina Gray are not pushing too hard for Nia Faith to take the same path.

“It’s not about being famous, it’s about doing music,” Nia Faith said. “I don’t know if I’m going to pursue this as a career ... (but) it’s definitely an option because I like doing it.”

Nia Faith said she was also interested in forensic anthropology and wouldn’t have any problem going to college, like her older sister is currently doing.

“Because she’s 14 and 14 is very young, I wouldn’t project too far out but ... I’ve encouraged both my daughters to do what they’re able to do and (Nia Faith) is definitely able to perform on this stage in front of others,” Christina Gray said.

Nia Faith will be updating her Facebook page and Youtube accounts before and after the performance.

“We just want to put her out there and see where it goes,” Christina Gray said.

Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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