Elevate 2018: Singer-Songwriter to Share Mental Health Journey

February 8, 2018

Singer-songwriter Nakia stepped into the national spotlight in 2011 as a top-8 semifinalist on the first season of The Voice, a televised vocal competition. His soul-funk-blues vocal blend quickly caught the attention of then-judge CeeLo Green and viewers across the country.

The experience was a turning point in his life, but in his appearance at the upcoming Elevate by Psych Congress  meeting in Austin, Texas, Nakia will focus on another critical moment in his journey: accessing mental health services through the Austin-based SIMS Foundation

“Most of my life was colored by depression and/or addiction, since I was a kid even,” Nakia said. “Today I have a wonderful therapist and fantastic men’s group therapy. In June, I will have 6 years sober.”

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Nakia session informationSIMS partners with mental health clinicians in Austin—which has a thriving live music scene— to provide services to local musicians at significantly reduced rates. The organization was founded after the 1995 suicide of local musician Sims Ellison, who had struggled with depression

“I’ve been a very vocal supporter of SIMS since becoming a client in 2002,” Nakia said. “I have a passion for sharing my experiences with depression and addiction in the hopes that it might help others find their own path to recovery.”

In his keynote address at Elevate, Nakia will reflect on the difference that access to mental health services through SIMS has made for him and so many other musicians in the region.

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Elevate logo“During my presentation, I will also be performing a few select original songs,” he said. “These songs will serve as both musical bullet points of my talk and personal milestones from my own life.”

Although Nakia has an affinity for the blues, he aims to use his February 23 talk and talent to infuse hope into the Elevate crowd.

“I hope attendees will walk away with a better understanding of what it’s like to be an artist struggling with mental health issues and addiction,” he said, “and feeling hopeful for the future of those who need help and interested in learning more about organizations like SIMS that provide access to those in need.”

—Jolynn Tumolo