Sanjaya, Sanjaya, Sanjaya.
Bloggers can’t get enough of him, he’s gotten all sorts of press because of an acute combination of bad singing and funky hairdos. Sanjaya was already a star for those who choose to Vote For the Worst, but there’s one hair style that propelled him to top story status on celebrity blogs everywhere — that mohawk. Well, I’ll have you American Idol fans know that Sanjaya wasn’t the first contestant to bring that distinctive style to the stage. Nadia Turner was there first, way back in season four.
And unlike Sanjaya, homegirl can sing.
I was lucky enough to interview Ms. Turner recently, and she addressed the “frohawk” issue.
You see, Nadia Turner’s number came up not long after she wore the style for a rockin’ version of Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time, and her style created a buzz at the time. I had to ask, is it possible to surmise that Nadia inadvertently started the funky hairstyle trend? â€œItâ€™s funny, after I wore the mohawk, I started to see it everywhere!â€ she laughed in response.
Nadia’s star power, unstoppable style, and distinctive afro made her a memorable contestant on Idol that year. She was funky, talented, and always marched to her own beat. Sometimes that meant singing a song nobody else was familiar with. She got the boot after this performance of When I Dream, a Crystal Gayle song from 1977 that may have lost the young audience.
Season four was a strange season anyway — after Carrie Underwood won, not many contestants went on to rival the winner’s fame. Bo Bice had a hit album, The Real Thing, and has been dealing with some medical issues. There was a snarky article about Constantine Maroulis’s life after Idol in the Village Voice that made the media rounds. But fans who have been wondering where Nadia Turner has been can rest assured, she’s been quite busy in her post Idol-life.
â€œLetâ€™s see. I did a movie, I recently co-hosted The View with Barbara Walters and Rosie Oâ€™Donnellâ€¦ the Royal Family of Kuwait invited me to perform for them for New Yearâ€™s, so I flew over there and that was exciting. Iâ€™m starting my own clothing lineâ€¦ Iâ€™ ve been very busy! Iâ€™m a hustler,â€ she laughs. More than anything else, Nadiaâ€™s been fine tuning her long-overdue album, which promises to stay true to her funky rocker-chick roots. â€œMy mom raised me this way that things will never come to you, you have to knock and let God open the doors that are supposed to be opened. And Iâ€™ve been knocking at a lot of doors,â€ she declares.
Nadiaâ€™s first film, an urban romantic comedy named Lord Help Us, is set to be released on May 8. Turner acted opposite recognizable African American actors like Aloma Wright, who played the recently-deceased Laverne on Scrubs, as well as Mad TV alumni Debra Wilson. And apparently they had a great time on the set. â€œYou have no idea â€“ homegirl is off the charts. On the set, Debra would just have us sprawled out on the floor laughing, like, is she for real?â€ says Nadia.
Nadia Turner’s struggles tie into two issues I’ve tackled here on Afrobella — being a natural beauty in Hollywood, and being a black chick who rocks.
She’s been working on a funk/rock/soul album that goes completely against the urban music grain. â€œThe only problem with that is, when you go against the grain, people are afraid to take chances. They want to go with what theyâ€™re familiar with. Thatâ€™s unfortunate,â€ she says. â€œIâ€™ve had people from record labels meet with me and tell me, ok, how do we market a black girl who sings rock? And my comeback is, black people are the originators of rock. Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrixâ€¦ We are the founders of rock and roll. We started it, how come we canâ€™t have it back?â€
Throughout her time on Idol, Nadia stayed true to her desire to rock. She belted out I’m The Only One, and made Try a Little Tenderness her official anthem early on in the contest. (click that link to check out her adorable afro puffs in the beginning!) From the way things have been going in the music industry, I wouldn’t look for Nadia Turner videos to crop up on BET or MTV, and she probably won’t get airplay on your local urban radio station. But she’s determined as hell, and I’m rooting for her.
When I ask Nadia, how hard has it been for you to stay natural in the spotlight? The question seems to have never occurred to her. She’s afrobella to the core, and has no plans to straighten her curly locks.
“For me, itâ€™s not hard at all. I had straight hair from 12 all the way to 21 and just kind of woke up one day like eh, donâ€™t wanna do it anymore. I just got tired of it. There were things going on in my life and I just went to chopping. Itâ€™s really been easy for me.”
Like many of us with natural hair, the journey to embracing her locks hasn’t always been smooth. Nadia’s got great advice for all aspiring afrobellas. “The thing to remember is, everyoneâ€™s hair is different. Even though we all might be trying to be natural, what works for your hair might not work for my hair. When I first started, Iâ€™d meet people who had natural hair or locsâ€¦ and Iâ€™d be like oh, Iâ€™m gonna go try whatever theyâ€™re using! And then itâ€™s just disastrous. I had to find things that worked for me. Thereâ€™s a couple things I play with now. I started out with some roots kind of things for locs, and that wasnâ€™t too good. Then I got some Paul Mitchell stuff I wound up being allergic to. Now thereâ€™s a young lady who I met in LA. My sistersâ€™ hair is processed, but not over processed. They use Kinky Curly Curling Custard on their hair, and I really like that stuff. I met her in LA because she came to the show, and I actually have a link to her site on my site.” Well, Nadia didn’t have to tell me more about Kinky Curly, since I reviewed it back in November. I am still enamored with the Knot Today. Too much Curling Custard can leave my hair pretty sticky. But like Nadia says, not everything works for everybody. And if you’re going to buy and try Kinky Curly Curling Custard, just remember that your hair needs to be clean of any other products before you use it, to avoid that sticky factor.
Nadia even recommended some new stuff for me! â€œRight now, you know what you should try that should be pretty light on your hair? Matrix has a curl line, Curl Life, it comes in the green bottleâ€¦ The stuff I buy is called the Contouring Milk. You can buy it at CVS or the salonâ€¦ they run out fast, though. Everytime I go I have to buy four tubes, and theyâ€™re like $14 a pop! It just adds up because they donâ€™t even come in big tubes, theyâ€™re like these little frou-frou tubes,â€ she observed.
I hate little frou-frou tubes. With the mass of hair I have, I prefer to buy a big container of product. Lord knows I’ll be going through it quickly enough! But both Nadia and I were happy with the current state of curly hair products on the beauty store shelves. â€œSuddenly, itâ€™s like out of nowhere! Redken has a curl line now, a lot of the high end brandsâ€¦ itâ€™s like they finally woke up and realized oh, people with curly hair need some assistance! I think itâ€™s been in the past two years that Iâ€™ve realized how many other products there are for us to try,â€ says Nadia.
Here’s hoping that big things are in store for Nadia when her album drops. I’ll be sure to keep you bellas in the loop! I’m sure that we’ll be seeing more of this former American Idol afrobella quite soon. Her determination and talent will take her places for sure. â€œIâ€™m a show stopper. Thatâ€™s always how Iâ€™ve been, and I take pride in it. Iâ€™m gonna kick the door down,â€ she promises. And I believe her!
Click here to check out her MySpace page. And just in case you forgot what a show-stopper Nadia Turner is, here she is with my favorite performance from her time on Idol, singing the bejesus out of Dusty Springfield’s You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me. Like Simon said at the time, “in a competition full of hamburgers, you are a steak.” And in my opinion, she makes a lot of the contestants on this season’s show look like they belong on the 99 cents menu.
Congratulations, Nadia! You’re Afrobella of the Week!