By Chiamaka Nsude
In the early 2000s when the American music industry could not boast of a lot of female reggae singers who made back to back hits, the Thorbourne sisters made a grand entry with their introduction of a sub-genre which they called reggae-fusion. Reggae fusion became a music genre that female artists observed from afar because of its complexity and the fear of having people accept this type of music which seemed more like an adulteration of real reggae.
Well, this soon became a rather fertile genre for female artists to explore as the group Brick and Lace, made up of Nyanda and Nailah Tharbourne, had paved the way. The name Brick and Lace was discovered to be a figurative expression which reveals the opposite binaries of the hard and softness embedded in feminity, since reggae is forceful and the women decided on doing it.
The Jamaican-American sisters made up the reggae fusion/R&B musical duo that was the rave of the moment in the early 2000s. They could better be described as church girls in their teen and early adult ages, as they grew up under musically inclined parents. Their mother was a member of the choir and their father did music professionally so, they both grew up singing in church.
The group was originally made up of three out of four sisters, Tasha, Nyanda and Nailah. Tasha soon left the group to concentrate on other businesses and only contributed passively by co-writing songs for the group, leaving the other two to ride the tides. Brick and Lace soon became a household name in Europe, America and Africa in 2006, after releasing their first single with Geffen Records titled “Get That Clear” and subsequently releasing their first album titled Love is Wicked.
By 2007, the duo were signed on to Akon’s Kon Live Distribution record label and “Love is Wicked” which was a track in their 2006 debut album became a hit alongside “Never Never”, getting listed on musical charts and maintaining top spots. They had gained a wide range of popularity by the year 2008 and were on tour in Africa and in Europe for the most part of the year. They released another single in 2009 titled “Bad to di Bone” which gained a French collaboration and further fuelled their popularity. A re-release of the Love is Wicked album was done in 2009 with the popular “Room Service” hit track.
In mid-2010 Nyanda announced her pregnancy and by 2013 the sisters agreed to go their separate ways, as proposed by Nyanda, to pursue solo musical careers. In an interview with the Jamaican Observer, Nyanda disclosed her decision to transition into becoming a solo artist thereby disbanding the group she had built with her sister. She expressed her hopes for collaborations with DJs and other artists, as she looked forward to finding her way back to Jamaica from her Florida base.
She expressed that “After being one half of a group for so long, the time has come for me to find myself as a whole… to stand on my own two feet, and I am feeling the pressure. I try not to think about it too much so I am just concentrating on the music. I am both terrified and excited at the same time”.
In 2013, she released “Trouble”, a promotional single which was produced by Black Lion. The same song is a remix of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” which has won multiple platinum.
Nailah has since gone on to do music on her own and has teamed up with popular acts like Major Lazer and Fuse ODG. She announced her pregnancy in October, 2017. The year 2020 saw the sisters coming together to wow their fans in Uganda at the TAG TV Jam Fest which was hosted by DJ Naselow Da Don and featured popular Ugandan dancehall artists like Weasel, Bennie Gunter, Vampino and Nutty Neithan.
Nailah took to her instagram page recently, to celebrate her 12th anniversary with her husband, Robert Gooden, with whom she has a three year old son, Liam. She is currently expecting a baby girl but, that has not stopped her from doing what she loves to do as her new song, “Shake it” is expected to be out soon. Nyanda does more of song writing alongside doing musical collaborations. Her song with LNY TNZ, “Light up your Life” was released in November, 2020 and it is a banger even though it saw her switching genre. She is also dedicating time to focus on her daughter, Trinity. Both sisters are currently based in Florida, USA, but often travel home to Jamaica for work or vacation with their families.