Oct. 6, 2009
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EDITOR’S NOTE: The national anthem at Saturday’s college football game between Iowa and Michigan at historic Kinnick Stadium will be sung by a young talent know as “Jamia.” She will become only the second individual in the history of Kinnick Stadium to perform the song live. University of Iowa alumnus and international opera star Simon Estes is the only other.
IOWA CITY, Iowa – With a bold voice and signature delivery that belies her thirteen years, Jamia Simone Nash, known simply as “JAMIA,” is definitely a superstar on the rise. Since the ripe `old’ age of two, Jamia has been singing with incredible conviction and building a notable career as a successful multi-hyphenate — singer, stage performer and actor — rivaling pros with many more years of experience under their belts.
Jamia owned the stage on Feb. 24, 2008, at the 80th Annual Academy Awards® ceremony when she performed the Oscar-nominated original song “Raise It Up” from the Warner Brothers’ feature “August Rush,” a movie for which she received critical acclaim in her feature film debut as “Hope.” In the role, Jamia befriends star Freddie Highmore’s character, a musically gifted, adopted boy searching for his real parents. Her inspiring lead performance of “Raise It Up” with the Impact Repertory Theater of Harlem not only won Jamia rave reviews, but also secured her place in the history books as the youngest African-American to perform on the prestigious worldwide telecast to date.
The song didn’t score a statue but Jamia’s appearance was a big win, widely regarded by critics as one of the evening’s highlights. The Los Angeles Times’ Ann Powers called her “predictably dazzling,” while Cynthia R. Fagen of the New York Post wrote that she “stole the show” and “knocked the socks off the star-studded audience with her powerful, honeyed voice.” Jamia’s hometown newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, chronicled her Academy-Awards experience with a series of articles, blogs and photo galleries, including a page one feature on show day dubbing Jamia “Oscar’s Little Big Girl.”
In the wake of her Oscar-night triumph, the Southern Christian Leadership Committee (S.C.L.C.) with its W.O.M.E.N. Drum Major for Justice Youth Award recently recognized Jamia.
Before Jamia’s worldwide television debut introduced her to viewers around the globe, she wowed national audiences with multiple appearances on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Good Morning America,” and “The CBS Early Show,” among others. Onstage, she’s performed live for such luminaries as Aretha Franklin, John Travolta, Oprah Winfrey, the King of Jordan and former President George W. Bush, who dubbed Jamia ‘the definition of the future;’ sang the National Anthem during 2003 NBA All-Star Game festivities; and shared the stage with such superstars as Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion, Alicia Keys, Josh Groban and John Mayer, to name a few. At age five, Jamia’s big break came when her rendition of the Michael Jackson classic “Who’s Loving You?” on “Showtime at the Apollo” brought the legendarily tough crowd – known for booing performers off the stage – to its feet with admiration and rousing applause.
In addition to making a name as a sought-after performer, Jamia has been generating buzz in Hollywood for her budding acting career. Her breakout performance in 2006 as a 10-year-old Fantasia Barrino (2004 American Idol winner) in the hit Lifetime television movie “Life Is Not A Fairytale” drew the attention of television critics, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Melanie McFarland.
“The young Fantasia (the charismatic Jamia Simone Nash) has a commanding talent that becomes the center of attention whenever the family band performs together,” she wrote of Jamia’s scene-stealing turn.
Other notable appearances include the UPN series “Half and Half,” two appearances on ABC’s “My Wife and Kids,” the WB’s “7th Heaven” and “Steve Harvey’s Big Time.” Behind the scenes, the Rancho Pico Junior High School student has also lent her signature vocals to the character “Uniqua” on the popular Nickelodeon animated series The Backyardigan’s.
On June 21, 2008 Jamia appeared at Atlanta’s Phillips Arena in a star studded, two-hour musical event called “Songs of Soul and Inspiration” directed by Golden Globe, Emmy and Tony award-winning producer and choreographer Debbie Allen as part of AARP’s 50th anniversary celebration. Jamia was featured in an once-in-a-lifetime line-up of female vocalists, including Queen Latifah, Chaka Khan, Dionne Warwick, Yolanda Adams, Patti Austin, Shirley Caesar, CeCe Winans, Ann Nesby and Paris Bennett.
Jamia currently appears on CBS’ “Young and the Restless,” the #1 daytime soap opera on television. Cast as “Ana Hamilton”, her recurring character plays opposite America’s Next Top Model cycle 3 winner, Eva Pigford, as Jamia’s mom.
Jamia’s father and manager, James Nash, founder/CEO of The Popular Entertainment Group, recently announced a partnership with Cindy Osbrink of the Osbrink Agency.
The Nash family, who reside in Los Angeles County, also includes mom, Charlene, and nine-year-old sister Olivia, who aspires to follow in Jamia’s footsteps with a career in entertainment.
JAMIA TO ADD STAR POWER TO BRAIN POWER
Iowa City is known for academic and scientific leadership in fields such as epigenetics and free radical biology. Now, thanks to scientists sponsored by McCord Research, Iowa City is home to the effort to find a cure for the Buruli ulcer. The disease, found in 31 subtropical countries, is a flesh-destroying bacterium, primarily impacting children under age 15.
“We’re thrilled to announce that Jamia is the new spokesperson for our Buruli Ulcer Project. Based on her track record, we immediately knew 13-year-old Jamia was the right person to join our team.”
Darlene McCord, McCord Research
Funded by long-time friends of the UI and fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes James and Darlene McCord, scientists at The University of Iowa, Michigan State University and University of Tennessee-Knoxville are working to identify the source of the Buruli bacterium.
“Although progress is being made, we need to do a better job of making people aware of this terrible disease, so it’s time to combine star power with brain power,” James McCord said. To generate more awareness of the disease, McCord Research’s Buruli Ulcer Foundation has partnered with singer and actress Jamia.
“We’re thrilled to announce that Jamia is the new spokesperson for our Buruli Ulcer Project,” said Darlene McCord, chief science officer for McCord Research. “Based on her track record, we immediately knew 13-year-old Jamia was the right person to join our team.”
“I’m so please to join this effort,” said Jamia. “Because I’m a kid, I can relate to how scary it is to be doing a task as simple as getting water from a local river, then getting a disease that can scar your body forever.”
The McCords are sponsoring awareness-building projects, including visits to Iowa City schools, and later schools throughout America. “We’re also taking our message to the highest levels of the U .S. government and beyond,” Darlene McCord noted.
The McCords and the staff at the McCord Research Foundation are familiar with the outstanding work happening on the UI campus. Last October the foundation made a gift commitment of $2.3 million to the University of Iowa Foundation to support UI biomedical research into the role of free radicals in the mechanisms of aging and wound healing, and to provide fellowship support for students in the Biosciences Program of the UI Graduate College.