Could Nayah Be Dallas’ Next Big R&B Sensation?

For 19-year-old Tanayah Hartley, music is most certainly a family affair. And, hey, that’s all fine and good when your family’s doing you right.

And right now? Well, they’re doing her very right. Hartley, who records under the name Nayah, is the voice and face of the movement. Her 21-year-old sister, Tiana, who writes under the name t_danix, pens her lyrics. The sisters’ mother, meanwhile, manages the both of them.

Sound familiar? It’s a story that Texas R&B fans in particular should well know by now.

Nayah’s music itself sounds a little familiar, too, it’s worth noting. No, not in the sense that it feels copied and pasted from elsewhere; rather, it’s an output that would fit right in on either Dallas urban contemporary station 97.9 The Beat or its up-the-dial counterpart at KISS 106.1.

That’s the plan, too: “I have no idea where this is gonna go,” the Milwaukee-born Nayah, who moved to Midlothian as a 12-year-old, admits over the course of a recent phone call. “I go day by day. But, right now, everything is blooming.”

Indeed. Nayah doesn’t have an album under her belt. Doesn’t have any live shows to her name just yet, either. She does have a SoundCloud page, though. And that page is stacked with roughly mixed but still rather undeniable pop-cum-R&B earworms just oozing with potential — none more so than the two most recent uploads, “Let It Go” and “She’s In The Way,” each of which were produced by the Los Angeles-based producer Call Me Parker, whose updates on the early ’00s pop R&B sound matches rather perfectly with Nayah’s confidently lilting vocals.

Now she has something else in her arsenal, too — a music video for the catchy “Let It Go,” directed by the inescapable local auteur Jeff Adair, which she released late last month to very little fanfare. Even so, at the time of this writing, the clip has just surpassed 1,000 views — not too shabby considering that, around town, pretty much no one knows who Nayah is just yet.

That could change sooner than later, though: Nayah, though green, is nothing but ambitious.

“It sounds cliche,” she says, “but I’ve been doing this since I can remember.”

Not professionally, of course. She means school choirs, things like that. Also on YouTube, where two separate Rihanna covers she posted to the site have each amassed over 100,000 views, which is only slightly more notable than the fact that a solid dozen such cover song clips she’s uploaded have earned over 15,000 views apiece.

Her plan now is to take that same model and apply it to actual, directed music videos. Without a record deal in place, Nayah and her team plan to continue releasing singles as they finish recording them, with accompanying videos following shortly thereafter to match the recorded output.

“Beyonce inspired me with that,” she says, noting that superstar’s decision to drop a surprise “visual album” this past December, with a video already shot for each track upon the time of its release. Nayah’s not quite Beyonce at this stage of development, no. Hardly.

But there’s some promise there, for sure. And, just maybe, a future.

For now, as she continues to develop her sound and, slowly but surely, a live set that she says she’ll roll out sooner than later, she’s enjoying the time she currently has to ponder that future.

“All I know,” Nayah says, “is that I don’t want to just be in one lane.”

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