Nessa Rica Ramos remembers the very first time she sang in front of an audience. She was in church, sharing the stage with her two brothers and singing Fred Hammond’s “This Is the Day.” Frightened by the watchful crowd, the 4-year-old bolted off stage and cried.
But 19 years later, the fourth-year geography student said she is not going to run off this time.
In between her first performance on stage and her upcoming Spring Sing showcase, she has overcome the stage fright that struck her as a child. She is now known on stage simply as Nessa Rica and has since left a musical footprint in coffee shops, on tours all over the world and on YouTube.
As a solo artist, Nessa Rica said her music does not conform to only one genre but rather spans from acoustic to pop to R&B.; When it comes to writing her lyrics to accompany her compositions, Nessa Rica draws inspiration from her current life situations and surroundings.
Ultimately, she said she describes her music as feel-good music.
“I basically want to express (love and my beliefs) in a way that makes people feel good,” Nessa Rica said.
Third-year human biology and society student and Spring Sing Talent Director Danielle Romero said she agrees that Rica’s music is feel-good music and the reason she was chosen to be a Spring Sing contestant is because of the positive atmosphere her music gave off during her audition.
“Some of the acts are super emotional and heart-wrenching,” Romero said. “But Nessa’s is really feel-good (and) makes you happy.”
Before her involvement in Spring Sing, Nessa Rica’s musical career first sprouted on her YouTube channel, “52ness.” Accompanied by her guitar and a camera, she recorded herself performing her original music as well as acoustic covers of songs by artists such as Estelle and the Corrs.
Nessa Rica has also recorded duets with singer-songwriter and YouTube celebrity AJ Rafael and other musicians whom she credits for inspiring her to further her musical career.
“They’ve pretty much inspired me to do more with music than just writing songs,” Nessa Rica said. “I didn’t think it would ever be possible to have a career or to even go further than posting videos and actually having like a fan base (of) people who want to listen to what you’re talking about.”
Nessa Rica has since recorded and released two studio albums, titled “Hearts Desire” and “Journey.” In her more recent album, “Journey,” Nessa Rica set out to release music that would share her capabilities and her development as a musician.
In addition to her albums, Nessa Rica has engaged with audiences, releasing chill vibes in intimate coffee shops all over Southern California and on tour in venues all over the United States, Austria and her birth country, Australia. While on tour, Nessa Rica said she was amazed that music can break language barriers.
“To be able to go somewhere and to sing my stuff and hear them sing it back,” Nessa Rica said. “It’s just an amazing feeling.”
The next step of Nessa Rica’s journey is her approaching Spring Sing performance, in which she will play an unannounced, original song.
After receiving a suggestion to audition from a friend last year, Nessa Rica looked into it but found that she had missed the application deadline. Determined, she auditioned this year to compete.
“We just remember that her song was catchy and we were humming the song afterward,” Romero said. “She was really memorable.”
By competing in Spring Sing, Nessa Rica said she is looking forward to contributing to UCLA in some way before graduating.
“I’m hoping to get out the experience of being a part of something bigger than myself,” Nessa Rica said.