Nia Coombs is the brains behind art, music, people, (AMP) a platform for rappers, singers, artists, poets and dancers to showcase their talents. Nia is an artist herself, she is a singer, musician, producer, and songwriter. Nia is also a teacher’s assistant teaching vocal to high school students in Queens.
In 2013, Nia started AMP because she realized there weren’t too many showcases that focused on uniting through the arts. AMP has become an outlet for artists to express themselves, perfect their craft, and connect with others. She also allows vendors to sell their merchandise and artists to display their artwork during the event. AMP is held at the Vulcan Hall in Crown Heights Brooklyn on a monthly basis. I had the opportunity to sit down with the young entrepreneur, Nia Coombs to discuss upcoming events, future business plans, and the importance of utilizing our voices in the community.
Blame Ebro: So you started AMP during your second year of college and it’s been running for three years now. What made you want to start AMP?
Nia Coombs: When I was away at school – I originally went to SUNY Potsdam. It’s really not a school big on performing arts unless you attend Potsdam for their music program. During my freshman year and half of my sophomore year I realized I was just there to get away from home. I didn’t really declare a major in college. But I always had a background in music and had an appreciation for the performing arts. Music has always been it for me. So when I decided to transfer schools I came back home and said to myself, ‘going back home has to be for a reason.’ Aside from me getting my degree, I need to start doing what I love more and give myself and along with other artists a platform to take their music to the next level.
BE: I am someone that is a huge supporter of AMP and have been to many shows. I’m always amazed by the performers that participate at AMP. How do you go about finding and selecting the acts?
NC: A few acts were referred to me by other musicians that I know or I grew up with. Some acts are found through social media, word or mouth, or attending shows myself to see what’s out there.
BE: You are also an artist yourself. How has AMP impacted your artistry?
NC: AMP definitely inspires my artistry because I choose a certain caliber of artist. It inspires me to keep going. Once I hear something motivational it keeps me focused and gives me tunnel vision. AMP helps with my creative process and cultivating my craft.
BE: Being a businesswoman, what are some of the biggest lessons you learned in business?
NC: Consistency and drive because regardless of what it is that you do you have to be on top of your game. If you flip flop people will not take you seriously. When you are doing something you love and something you are passionate about, everything will eventually will fall into place although there maybe obstacles. If you are someone that is consistent you will be respected. Drive is the willingness to accept the fact that you might fail but you are going to keep moving forward because you will eventually succeed. Living out those principles creates a pattern for me to accomplish goals.
BE: I noticed that you like to incorporate what’s going on in today’s society into AMP, whether it’s the black lives matters movement or the presidential race. Obviously, you are someone that is socially aware. Why do you think it’s important to include topics like this into AMP?
NC: I feel that Nina Simone said it best. As artists, how is it not your job to talk about things that are happening in society. Especially being a black woman, I feel like there is a target on our backs. I feel like the world given our history is expecting us to fail due to our social norms that have been put into place. We can’t allow that to happen. As people, it is our duty to not only speak on these issues but take action as well. However, being an artist I have the power to reach so many people through song. People underestimate the power of music but music can inspire and change the way people think. I believe speaking on these topics will help us better ourselves and educate others through the different art forms.
BE: I know you give artists a platform through AMP, but also you have helped artists get their foot in the door with other opportunities. In this world that we live in, sometimes people tend to only look out for themselves. Why do you think camaraderie among the music industry is so important?
NC: It’s a way for all of us to win. I like helping people. I like doing good in the world. If you have the resources and power to help someone why not help them, especially in an industry that is so corrupt. It will come back on me ten fold. I have booked shows for other artists and I feel that it is a part of my job as someone who curate shows. It’s not only rewarding but it’s necessary. Generally, I feel that New York lacks the camaraderie, so I feel like someone has to do it.
BE: What advice would give to a young entrepreneur that would like to follow in your footsteps?
NC: First, you have to work on yourself before delving into projects with others. But also really walking in your truth and finding your purpose. Once that happens you allow yourself to be that much more successful. Once you are confident and you have a clear vision of what you want, it makes that much easier. Make sure you have clear understanding of what your truth and purpose is before the business– before anything.
BE: Where do you see AMP in 10 years?
NC: To be honest, I was scared. I was scared of success because it’s overwhelming. At first, I wanted to start out small. Now that I am thinking bigger I want to have an AMP festival that would be similar to Afro Punk. Also, I would like to own a venue that houses different local artists. I would like to continue with the showcases and create a record label. Maybe some of the artists that I work with now can be a part of AMP records. I want AMP to be well respected, well known, and benefit the community. At this point I am more focused on the showcase, I don’t want it to be only about the music. Eventually, I would like AMP to be more than music and really make a difference on a national and global scale. I want people to know what AMP means and the core value which is uniting through the arts. I would like to focus more on black awareness. I don’t feel that there is enough of that and uniting through the arts will only be the start of it.
As far as upcoming events Nia has a Mothers Day event which includes manicure, glam makeover, paint & sip, catered menu and unlimited mimosa. The event will take place on May 8th from 2pm- 6pm. Nia explains that this is an effort to work on the people aspect of art, music, people, and she is hoping to reach a different demographic through this event. Nia also has a showcase on May 21 5pm-9pm. All events are held at the Vulcan Hall 739 Eastern Parkway Brooklyn, NY 11213.
To keep up with Nia please follow her on instagram @kneeuhmusik and on twitter @kneeuh93. Also follow on instagram @art.music.ppl and on twitter @ art_music_ppl to see all upcoming events. Please make sure you go and support. Check out the photos from AMP below.