"At 14 years old, I sang for Alicia Keys after her show and she joined me in a rendition of Musiq's "Just Friends," then she said 'you remind me of Jamie Foxx,'" recalls Nathan Fagan Gayle.
It looks like Ms. Keys was on to something. The 23 year-old singer/songwriter Nathan is a fresh face from London's southeast side with a light tenor and brave falsetto that's perfect for pop music.
Born in London, Nathan is a mash of British, American and Jamaican culture, having spent time living in each country. His mother, Lorna Gee, is a reggae singer and continued to tour after Nathan was born, leaving him in his Grandmother's care in Spanish Town, Jamaica. At five years old, Nathan moved to New York City with his mother and at 10 his family moved back to London's southeast area, Forest Hill. It was there that Nathan began to perform with his mother during her shows and the performance seed was planted. Four years later, the young man began his R&B career with a stroke of luck on UK radio.
"I loved to be on stage, at that time I didn't know what I wanted to do," laughs Nathan. "I just entered competitions everywhere and did everything, from dancing to singing. Then, I entered into Choice FM's "RAPOLOGY" competition."
In 2002, London's urban radio station Choice FM held a contest called "RAPOLOGY" for burgeoning artists. Applicants submitted demo tapes of their talent, and if selected, each contestant performed in front of the station's DJs and 3,000 people for a chance at 1,000 GBP and a chunk of professional studio time. The eager artist's first talent entry of raps were ignored. So a determined Nathan entered "RAPOLOGY" again, only this time he submitted a recording of his singing.
"I was just going to keep at it until I won!" says Nathan, smiling. As a result, in 2003, Choice's staff called 14 year-old Nathan in to perform, Usher's "You Got It Bad" to be precise, and he won first place. Now all he had to do was come up with a song.
"I had never written my own song, I was 14 years-old going on 15," recalls Nathan. "But the prize was studio time in a Sony studio, so I had to write something! The first song I ever wrote was called What’s ur Name was the only demo song recorded in the awarded studio time that was eventually re-produced for Masterpiece.
After becoming the most popular song on UK Urban radio, Nathan’s first effort Come Into My Room was released on V2 Records. The follow-up Do Without My Love and the debut album Masterpiece were released independently on Mona Records. Both releases charted Top 40 in the UK! !
Two years later, two more songs garnered Nathan more critical acclaim and he won two consecutive Urban Music Awards. The Urban Music Awards are one of two UK-based urban music awards, the other being the MOBOS. In 2006, his single Do Without My Love captured an Urban Music Award for Best R&B Act, beating out nominees Ne-Yo, Akon and Jamelia. And the following year, Nathan’s single Cold As Ice featuring Rick
Ross earned the young singer/songwriter another Urban Music Award for Best Music Video. Both songs were released through the independent label, Mona Records/VCM.
In 2007, Nathan released his debut independent album, Masterpiece, both in the UK and in Japan. Next Nathan decided to tackle British reality television.
"In 2008, I entered "Celebrity Big Brother" in the UK, the 24 hour reality show for just 18-21 year olds, " says Nathan. " I never thought I would do anything like that, but at the time there was a rise in knife and gun crime in the UK. There weren't many positive young black role models on TV, so I wanted to show people that not everyone fits the violent stereotype. It would've been great to win, but I did last until the final day. It was a really crazy experience."
Now Nathan has released his 2nd album "3D - Determination, Dedication, Desire".
"With the second album, there's been a lot of growth from my songwriting to my vocals," says Nathan. "I would describe my music as international R&B. There are loads of American and European melodies mixed with R&B and reggae influences. I just wanted to do something that's unique to myself."
Counting Usher, Marvin Gaye, Will Smith and Micheal Jackson as his music and role model influences, Nathan aims to blend his passion into a another masterpiece ready for international R&B lovers. And despite building his career thus far with independent savvy.
"I feel we'll start the fire off independently and then sign to a major label," says Nathan. "There are a few people interested now, so we have to keep building up the hype so everyone in the UK knows who I am. I want to showcase myself and my music, and really show who Nathan is, and build a long career. I'm really excited, and anxious for people to start hearing the music."