Feb. 20, 2019 — Florence’s own Nyah Vollmar is now a “national recording artist” after the release of her first single, “Empty Spaces,” last week. The song debuted on Friday, followed by the music video’s release party at the Florence Events Center on Saturday.
“Her song was released Friday, and she was singing Friday night at the sold-out Ducks’ game at Matthew Knight Arena,” said Nyah’s father Scott Vollmar. “They said they would be more than happy to say her single was released and to ‘get it now on all the major platforms.’ They threw in the ‘national recording artist.’ I didn’t ask them to do that.”
At just 14 years old, Nyah is preparing a total of five songs this year to be included in her first EP with InRage Entertainment, with “Empty Spaces” as the first single. The next song, “Thousand Wishes,” has already been recorded and three more songs will be worked on in the coming months. The goal is to release the EP sometime this fall.
Nyah’s fans got to hear her sing several songs during her release party, including an acoustic version of “Thousand Wishes” and a live performance of “Empty Spaces.”
“I’m so happy you all made it here,” Nyah said. “I really wouldn’t be who, where or what I am without the people in this room. There are so many people I would love to thank — and thank you for coming out here and supporting me. I really appreciate it!”
Many of the 400 people who had tickets to the free event had heard snippets of “Empty Spaces” before, as 160 of them had been part of the music video’s filming process in Florence last November.
“We wanted to involve the community, and that’s why we made the decision to film it here,” Scott said. “Nyah has kind of a following here, and people have been really good in this community. We wanted to get the people of Florence involved so we can help this thing grow.”
Shot in places like Heceta Head, the CROW Center for the Performing Arts, Historic Old Town Florence and the Port of Siuslaw Boardwalk, Nyah’s video purposely included the area’s real residents and local color.
Even Florence Mayor Joe Henry showed up to be part of filming. He thanked both the production team and the greater community for their encouragement of the young singer at the release party.
“I just want to thank each and every one of you who turned out this evening and who have been supporting this effort for the last few months,” he said. “We have an awesome community with your support. … To the Vollmar family, you’re just an example of what a lot of us would like to be in our community.”
InRage Entertainment represents Nyah and produced the music video, which was directed by Katie O'Grady and Jeff "JTL" Rattanong.
O’Grady, who originally comes from Medford, Ore., and is based in Portland, has connections with Florence through family. She explained how she already loved the area and its people before meeting Nyah or coming here to film.
“Florence, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” she said. “I’ve been producing for a long time now, and do you know what you did? You opened doors for every single person that came into this town. From the amazing welcome to a beautiful stay at River House Inn, to meals, to coming out on the docks, to showing up tonight — that’s something. And I know a little bit about something because I’m from a very small town, and my town showed up for me when I was a little girl. It’s really rare to hear ‘This is what I want to be when I grow up,’ and it’s even more rare to be that thing when you grow up. I know, with each and every one of you behind Nyah, she’s going to be that thing.”
The release party featured several speakers important to Nyah, her family and her journey, including Henry, CROW Artistic Director Melanie Heard, O’Grady and Bruce “Automatic” Vanderveer, CEO of InRage. The master of ceremonies was Tamara Szalewski, a fellow Florence performer with strong ties to the film industry in Portland. She also co-owns the Mindpower Gallery in Reedsport, Ore.
Vanderveer said InRage specifically sent out a call for new artists, and his team was blown away by what they found in Nyah.
“We all decided that we truly wanted to have some great young, talented people in our company,” he said. “I’d been working for Sony Music, but I really wanted to create a company where we could actually have artists who wanted to truly express themselves and had a lot of great talent, not just a lot of gimmicks.”
He also talked about the year-long process to get Nyah to the release of her first song — from the day she walked into InRage, based in Los Angeles, and started freestyling to chords he played on his guitar to her hard work every day since.
“Something is happening in Florence,” he said. “It is the center of an artistic renaissance that is happening. We just know that people from Florence work harder than anybody else. Period. So, in this journey we are going to make Nyah an international star and we’re going to put Florence on the map so that people who come here want to touch you all and get some of this artistic vibe that you throw out. We love you.”
Heard, who has known Nyah since she started with CROW’s summer theater camps and worked her way to a starring role in this April’s performance of “The Wiz,” also talked about Nyah’s hard work and star qualities in singing, dancing and acting.
“This day is magical, absolutely magical, and I’m over-the-moon excited for Nyah and her bright future,” she said. “While today is magical, I have to be clear that there is absolutely no magic to what this young lady has accomplished. The only thing is hard work, dedication, love, devotion and, of course, her amazing talent.”
Heard paused a moment to address Nyah. “CROW is always going to be here,” she said. “We are your biggest fans, your tribe, your posse and your family — and we know exactly what it took to get to this moment. Bravo, little unicorn. And to all of you in the audience, please take note. The arts really do matter in the life of a child.”
O’Grady echoed this after thanking the many people who have stood behind Nyah over the years.
“She has a pure and natural way about her that only comes from this group of people, this town, from those parents, from her brothers and her sister. That's where she gets it, from her training as a little girl and up. When Melanie says, ‘believe in a child; invest in the arts,’ sometimes it just means showing up. Sometimes it means paying 99 cents for a song and calling all your family members and telling them to download this song,” she said.
As for the music video, there is a special director’s cut featuring more of Florence and the boardwalk celebration featuring so many local faces.
“While the official music video is much more attuned to what a music video should look like, the director’s cut will probably get a lot more people here excited,” Scott said. “It’s 100 percent Florence — Bay Street, Heceta Head, the CROW building, all of that.”
For O’Grady, who directed both versions, she said it was an opportunity to show how much the production team valued Florence for its support.
“It shows my deep love, my deep appreciation — and InRage’s deep love and appreciation — for everything you guys have done,” she said.
Now that she has a professional music video under her belt, Nyah is getting more used to the limelight, though she still prefers performing in front of thousands than to smaller groups.
Her dad Scott said that’s how she always felt — more comfortable at PK Park, Matt Knight Arena or even the Moda Center than in front of people she may know.
But Saturday was a different matter.
“I’m really happy with how it went,” Nyah said. “I’m really glad that so many people showed up and they actually seemed like they wanted to be there. I had a good time, too, performing in front of everybody.”
It was a “whirlwind weekend,” Scott said, as Nyah was also featured on two morning TV news broadcasts on Friday. Coupled with the Civil War Duck Game and the release party, it was a test for putting up with the high-stress days of a professional performer.
“I’m her biased dad, but she seemed to hit it out of the park,” Scott said.
Nyah has a busy schedule coming up as she plans to head back to L.A. in March and continue rehearsals for “The Wiz” and her dance work with Flight, which has a showcase in May. It is good that she is part of the online charter school Oregon Connections Academy (ORCA) to keep up with her schooling and her active family.
Just where does she find the drive to keep going?
“I definitely got some inspiration over the weekend, just with all the stuff that happened,” she said. “As for what that is, you don’t get to know until you hear the songs.”
Nyah’s single “Empty Spaces” is now available for download through major music platforms.
The release party was livestreamed, so people can go to the official Facebook page “Nyah the Unicorn” to see more and connect to her social media pages.
For more information about InRage Entertainment, visit www.inrage.com.