Afrobella of the Week — Nadia Turner, Afrobella Idol

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? “It’s funny, after I wore the mohawk, I started to see it everywhere!” 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.

“Let’s see. I did a movie, I recently co-hosted The View with Barbara Walters and Rosie O’Donnell… the Royal Family of Kuwait invited me to perform for them for New Year’s, so I flew over there and that was exciting. I’m starting my own clothing line… I’ ve been very busy! I’m a hustler,” she laughs. More than anything else, Nadia’s been fine tuning her long-overdue album, which promises to stay true to her funky rocker-chick roots. “My 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 I’ve been knocking at a lot of doors,” she declares.

Nadia’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. “You have no idea – homegirl is off the charts. On the set, Debra would just have us sprawled out on the floor laughing, like, is she for real?” 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. “The only problem with that is, when you go against the grain, people are afraid to take chances. They want to go with what they’re familiar with. That’s unfortunate,” she says. “I’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 Hendrix… We are the founders of rock and roll. We started it, how come we can’t have it back?”

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, it’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, don’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. It’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, everyone’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, I’d meet people who had natural hair or locs… and I’d be like oh, I’m gonna go try whatever they’re using! And then it’s just disastrous. I had to find things that worked for me. There’s a couple things I play with now. I started out with some roots kind of things for locs, and that wasn’t too good. Then I got some Paul Mitchell stuff I wound up being allergic to. Now there’s a young lady who I met in LA. My sisters’ 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! “Right 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 bottle… The stuff I buy is called the Contouring Milk. You can buy it at CVS or the salon… they run out fast, though. Everytime I go I have to buy four tubes, and they’re like $14 a pop! It just adds up because they don’t even come in big tubes, they’re like these little frou-frou tubes,” 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. “Suddenly, it’s like out of nowhere! Redken has a curl line now, a lot of the high end brands… it’s like they finally woke up and realized oh, people with curly hair need some assistance! I think it’s been in the past two years that I’ve realized how many other products there are for us to try,” 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. “I’m a show stopper. That’s always how I’ve been, and I take pride in it. I’m gonna kick the door down,” 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!

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Comments

  1. this is a great post, bella! so in depth, well-written and inspiring. peace.

  2. jerseybred says:

    Nice performance and hair. I’m loving the mohawk.

  3. i agree, i really did like this post, but there are just some things i would like to clarify with you. This might sound really silly but when you talk about curly hair do you mean kinky aswell? Because there is a difference; don’t get me wrong, of course Nadia Turner is African-American, but she is of mixed race heritage (most African Americans are, I am from the UK by the way) and her hair looks very thick, but it does not seem as coarse as typical afro-hair would normally be; it kind of looks “coolie” to me, and i was just wondering if the hair products she uses would be of any significance to some of the ones i use now because my hair is alot thicker, to the point where i cannot leave it out if you know what i mean, or else it just gets very dry, brittle and matted, no matter how much hair moisturizer i use. would you suggest anything for my type of hair? A reply would be greatly appreciated. btw i love your blog, i check it everyday x

  4. Hi Lola! I’m guessing you have a touch of Caribbean in your background, a word like “coolie” isn’t well known to most people of non-Caribbean descent, am I right? I’d say Nadia has hair similar to mine, 3C, 4A texture if you go by the old hair classification system that most natural women use. I slick on some kind of hair product the SECOND I get out of the shower every day. Super thick hair needs moisture, and products to combat that brittle, matted feeling you’re talking about. I’d advise you look into Curls Milkshake which has a coconut oil base, or check out Anita Grant since you live in the UK. She’s a master mixtress, and offers natural oils that could help combat your frizzy dryness. I’ll try to think of additional products for you to check out — I’m at work right now and am totally being naughty and reading my Afrobella comments! Back to the grind…

  5. thank you so much, i definitely will check Anita Grant. and also, i’m not actually from the caribbean i’m nigerian but having many caribbean friends, I hear the word quite often. I am not too sure about that old hair classification system (lol i’m 13 years old but i would like to know more about it) but I first got my hair straightened for a wedding when I was 6 years old and it was never the same after that. I got split ends, my hair went limp and my mum decided to relax it. This carried on util the 6th grade when I finally decided enough was enough and went for The Big Chop. I’ve been natural for almost 2 years now, and my hair is almost up to my shoulders now, but the thing I find so frustrating about having natural hair is that styling it seems so limited. My mum’s hair is relaxed and she keeps telling me that I might as well just do the same because all I can do to my hair is braid it and cornrow it, whilst she can just leave it out, tong it, curl it and do so much more. Do you have any natural hairstyle suggestions? I’ve also wanted to get highlights in my hair for quite some time now, but my mum says it will damage my hair. I’m so confused, and do not know where to begin with my hair! i’m just sick and tired of having to have it in braids all the time so that it lasts throughout the school term. I would like something different for a change.

  6. Lola! You can tell your mum that there are LOADS of hair styling options for afrobellas like you and me. There’s the obvious wash and go, or you can use accessories to jazz up your every day look — I am very pro-headband and I think afro puffs (two little ponytails) are adorable. Depend on how cutesy you want to look. You can get two or three-strand twists, and then when you do a twist-out, your hair falls into fantastic spirals. Look to Motown Girl for inspiration. And the statement “all you can do is braid or cornrow” is silly, because there are SO many fabulous braided and cornrowed hair styles!

  7. yes i guess so…that was a stupid statement now that i’m thinking about it more….just try to forget i ever said that!

  8. lola i suggest trying motowngirl.com or naani.com they have great suggestions for natural hair.
    im transitioning to natural so i know how u feel, sometimes finding hair inspiration can be a difficult.

    bella hav u heard of mane & tail products? i recently heard about them and wanted to ask if you could review them to see if they live up to the hype.

    nadias hair is gorgeous but i doubt mine will look that texture once im fully natural. does any1 have suggestions for making the hair more defined (curls i mean)?

    lov this site

  9. thanks for bringing nadia turner back into the limelight. i really liked her during that season, but i had since forgotten all about her (sorry!). i’m hoping that her album will do well…she’ll probably have trouble reaching the black market, in my opinion, as there seems that we have a hard time accepting things that we are not used to seeing. there is a group here in jacksonville called “whole wheat bread” and they are a black rock band (loud singing, live instruments and all, although they do have a sort of mainstream hip-hop sound at times. check them out on myspace) i saw them perform, but the croud was about 95% white. i have to admit though, it was a bit odd to see these guys on stage looking one way and sounding another, but i really enjoyed it. i wish Nadia much success!

  10. ami jane says:

    She’s Cool:)

  11. Hey Kawaii, are you Japanese or studying it? Just curious because of your name.

  12. hmmm um nadia turner is pretty cool, but my favorite AI performer was the season one beauty Tamyra Gray!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjUN9hC7ujQ

    What a heart-stopper she was with the big band routine!!!
    But as far as great hair and lots of energy is concerned nadia was loads of fun!!!

  13. @E-Fresh, nope im not japanese, im just obsessed with all things cute (i.e hello kitty etc)

  14. If I can ever interview Tamyra, I totally will! I voted for her so much. But Nadia is a Miami girl, so this interview wound up being a wonderful coincidence and she really was so fun and so interesting. Plus, I’m fascinated by life-after-Idol stories.

    Lola – no need to apologize or feel silly! The thing with natural hair is, it’s up to YOU how you feel about it. The best advice I can give you, is look in the mirror, smile at yourself, and take ownership of your natural beauty. If you’re a confident afrobella, then nobody can break your stride.

  15. Never heard of Nadia Turner. She is a great singer!! Love the frohawk!!

  16. Nadia Turner is awesome and a direct inspiration for me going natural. I had my last relaxer during her time on American Idol and it was seeing her on TV every week with a gorgeous fro that finally pushed me over the edge and made me realize that I wanted to go natural and stay natural (My previous attempt failed after two months of transitioning.) I am so glad to hear she is doing big things after leaving American Idol.

  17. Afrobella, thanks so much for this interview. I was definitely a fan of Nadia. Sadly the music industry wants sistas to fit the Beyonce/Ciara/Janet mold when it comes to looks and sound. I found an interesting link about Sistas in Rock at PopMatters.

    http://www.popmatters.com/pm/features/article/6580/anti-divas/

    Nadia will get my support when her record drops.

  18. Thanks bella,
    I love her, I wanted her to win that season, but I did think the song she picked would be the death of her. I loved it as I know the orginal, ok so you know how old I am. I just that with this idol, the way popular stuff but she is a winner in my end, I hope she goes far, I really think she has talent and great look :-)

  19. afrobello says:

    Hey, what’s that “3C, 4A texture” all about? I’ve NEVER heard of such a thing! Ms. Turner was my fave during her season. It is so refreshing when a person of color, man or woman, can be an artist not confined to the overt cultural sterotypes of performance opportunities. Like Josephine and Tina before her, I hope Nadia continues to defy expectations.

  20. Chelsy Martinez says:

    Hi Nadia my name is Chelsy Martinez I live in miami im 12 years old.Im a student a linda lentin middle trying to forfill my dream as a singer and an actress.
    I wanted to ask you a question what does it take to be
    a scussesful singer and actress?

    Thank you for your time Chelsy.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I get quite a few e mails from new-on-the-scene afrobellas, or transitioning bellas, who are concerned about how to style natural hair. So many of the traditional straight hairstyles go out the window once you go natural, and in certain environments there’s a pressure to conform to silly style rules and regulations. Take for example, this comment exchange that I had with a 13 year old reader, Lola. [...]

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