Meet Neicy Robertson
Ahead of the Chicago Gospel Music Festival on June 2nd and 3rd, Picture This Post interviewed some of the groups to get to know the singers and choirs performing. Next is Neicy Robertson, who performed on Friday, June 2nd from 1:40-2:00. This interview has been slightly condensed.
MORE: read other profiles of gospel performers, including Glenn Johnson and the Voices of Innerpeace, God's Posse, The University of Illinois Black Chorus, Isaiah Freeman, R&R, and the Selah St. Sabina Youth Choir.
PTP: Where were you born and where did you grow up? How did music figure into your upbringing?”
NR: I was born in Chicago, Illinois, and I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. I was born in a musically-inclined family, so everyone in my family did something musical. My uncle used to play the organ and my mom and aunt directed and were part of choirs, so I grew up listening to a lot of music. My grandfather listened to a lot of country music, so I just grew up around music all my life."
PTP: Why is gospel music important to you?
NR: Gospel music is important to me because I was born and raised in church. So that was a music that was always constantly playing and as I grew older I began to listen to many different genres of music, but gospel music always played a major part due to my time in church as a child. I was able to carry it through life from my roots of being born and raised in church.
PTP: What major gospel competitions have you won or other milestones in your career?
NR: I had an opportunity to sing with a few gospel artists, Ilanza Adams, Kim Borell. I did a record with Smokey Doreful. That was back when I first started in Chicago.
There’s several different artists that I’ve worked for. I did the vocal production on the VaShawn Mitchell record “Triumphant.” So I’ve had the pleasure to work with several different gospel artists and to be able to travel, both overseas and in the states.
PTP: When did you decide to become a professional musician and gospel singer?
NR: I had been doing it professionally at such an early age that I don’t know if it was a decision; I had kind of fell into an opportunity. I decided to take it more seriously after I did vocal production for Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child. That was the first time I vocally produced any project. It was my first time – I was nervous, I was scared. And once I figured out, “hey, this is something I can do,” I continued to do production, like putting singers together, putting choirs together, and doing background for other artists. I understood then that it was an art and something that I could really do. And from there I went on to do other productions."
PTP: When you are not rehearsing or performing or doing other things related to your music how do you spend time? Any hobbies? Besides gospel music, what are your main interests?
NR: “ I have a daughter. I have a family. I spend time with my family when I’m not around music. I try to go back home because my mom is there. I’m really a pretty laid-back, down home kind of girl. So I try to take like walks on the lake, but it’s really hard to get away from music, because music is such an integral part of what I’m doing, even when I’m with family."
PTP: How have you seen the gospel music world changing in recent years? Are any of these changes influencing your musical style?
NR: I noticed a lot of change in gospel music over the years. I noticed it when I moved, when I left Chicago. Chicago was really choir-driven, but now it's more groups that don’t travel as a choir. Although choirs still exist, it's like artists going out by themselves is a lot more popular now. Also, financially, everything is so digital now.
I’ve noticed that gospel music has changed tremendously. In my opinion, the culture of gospel music is changing. It's just always changing into something else, but every once in a while we’ll find ourselves back to the hymns. CCM, Contemporary Christian Music, like appreciative music, has become more popular recently. Like I said, when I left Chicago, it was choir-driven, but when I moved to Kentucky, CCM music was already in place. CCM music has been popular for years – it just seems like gospel music has picked it up now.
PTP: Please tell me about each piece in your program. Why did you choose this piece? What do you hope the audience will hear in this piece?
NR: I’m performing “Never Want to Leave This Place,” a song that my Aunt Valencia wrote. She wrote that song years ago. Her ministry sang that song and she passed the mic to me. And I like to say that from that day it became my song because I would sing more than she would. And it's brought me through a lot of hard times. My description would be that “this place” is that time in worship that you never want to leave – nothing else matters in this moment. Just open dialogue between yourself and God. And a lot of times it's difficult to get to that place because we’re so busy with life. But once you're there, you never want to leave.
I’m also doing a song called “Her Point of View.” I went through one of my toughest times in life and I made a poor decision, and I thought that because of that poor decision, God would never forgive me. I thought I would never experience his forgiveness or love. I didn’t think he would be merciful to me, and so I wrote about that.
PTP: Many of our readers know little about gospel music. What do you think is the most important thing for people to know about gospel music and this festival?”
NR: I would like people to not forget about the hymns and these songs. Because those hymns and songs were birthed through different parts of life. And it actually inspired me to tell people about my life, how I got through it, and what the outcome was. Sometimes, we can get so overwhelmed with life’s circumstances that all we have to look to is sorrow. So if I was going to tell anybody I would tell them that these songs are truthful and that these songs give you hope.
PTP: Do you have a website, any projects to promote?
NR: I have a project called “Stories of a Worshipper.” It's available on any music outlet. I’m working on a complete project that’s coming out soon.
Photos provided by Neicy Robertson