But she grew up in Massachusetts, where she attended a performing arts charter school, joined her family’s reggae band at age 12 and earned her GED at age 15.
She didn’t head to Los Angeles until about two years ago, according to a story in her hometown newspaper.
And even though she’s still just 21, she already released an album in 2008 (“Sweet Music”), was a featured vocalist on a Barefoot Truth album in 2010 (“Life is Calling”) and released a five-track EP last June (“Third Street”).
All are available on iTunes, and you can listen to the songs from “Third Street” on Naia’s website.
“For the past 21 years, it’s been tireless, endless hours of dreaming and writing and singing,” Naia told The Voice about her pursuit of a career in music. She said she gets by as a street musician in Hollywood, but “it’s a lot of hard, hard work.”
Musically, what you see is what you get, she admits. Her musical influences include Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Norah Jones and India Arie.
“As far as who I think I am most like musically, I think I’m a female Bruno Mars or Adele meets John Legend with pop, reggae and soul mixed together,” she says.
So, not surprisingly, she auditioned with Bruno Mars’ “The Lazy Song.” Her performance prompted Blake Shelton and Cee Lo Green to turn around.
Somewhat surprisingly, she picked Blake, then explained in her post-audition interview.
Part of it was that he’s a fatherly figure and she thinks he approaches music from an intimate level. Part of it was her own experience in Nashville.
“I’ve been to Nashville twice to work different songwriters. I don’t come from country music, but I feel like I’ve written my best songs with country songwriters,” she says.
And here is some of her music.
“Crazy Glue” from “Third Street” EP
“Like a Butterfly,” an original
The Voice audition — “The Lazy Song”