by Kenny Kerner

She has won the Bilboard Song Contest, Unisong Songwriters Contest, Dallas Songwriters Contest and just about every national songwriting contest there is. She has written material with the people who provide hits for Usher and BoysII Men and aspires to working with homegirl Missy Elliott before this year is over. Her name is Nanette Maxine and she's been a TAXI member since 1998, submitting what she calls her "Neo-Soul" material.

Nanette recalls singing in the church on Sundays when she was about three or four years old. She had always been musically inclined but it was an experience in school that changed her life forever and gave her music a reason to exist: "I remember that I was in the second grade and this kid got stuck up on the monkey bars. The principal went over to my teacher and asked if I could come out to the playgroud and try to help the kid down. I felt really special that he picked me out of the crowd to help. I climbed up the monkey bars and helped the frightened kid down. It was an awesome feeling. That experience made me commit to helping people--and music was the medium I chose for helping them."

Like most youngsters, Nanette often found herself in front of the mirror using a hairbrush as a microphone. She made it a point to join just about every choir at church and in school because there was something that she heard in the music that was special for her. "People always liked my voice and invited me to sing with some local bands but I found that people weren't as committed as I was. And that's what brought me to the songwriting aspect. I figured I could get some MIDI stuff and some microphones and recording gear and do this myself. You know how it is--it's hard getting everyone to come to practice and sometimes people would show up drunk and not totally focused. So I decided that I could take this further myself."

Name: Nanette Maxine
Residence: Richmond, VA
Age: 25
Occupation: Singer/Songwriter
Joined Taxi: 1998
Songs Forwarded: 25
Deals: None

And take it further she did. Nanette got serious about her songwriting and focused on getting her messages across in song. "Some songs come so easily. It's a gift from God and you know that's the message that you need to put out. It's an awesome feeling when that spiritual thing goes into the music and the feedback from people tells you that they were really touched."

Nanette finished high school and entered college--even getting a scholarship in geology. "I went to college for the four years but I was lost," the songstress told us, "it wasn't fulfilling. I was good at it and was doing ok, but it wasn't what I loved doing. I tried to set the music thing aside and it just wouldn't happen. It never died."

Being torn by the music muses, Nanette, in her early twenties, headed out to California where she stayed with a producer friend and, as she so aptly put it, "the music thing just engulfed me again." Basically, the artist was trying to find herself. Who was she as an artist? Where does she go from here creatively? It didn't take Nanette long to decide that the only way she could continue was to be true to herself and to what she felt she was born to do.

More determined than ever, Nanette spent time sending out her material to labels, managers, producers, publishers, and attending her share of seminars. The responses were very favorable, but like many others, nothing ever came of it. She got the typical "music business shuffle." People who loved her material on Monday were no longer at the same company on Wednesday. And so on.

All this time, Nanette kept seeing ads and mentions of this independent A&R company called TAXI. "After seeing ads for them all over the place I decided to give them a try. I figured that they had the connections that I lacked and we're all looking for the contacts. Also, with TAXI, everyone is on the same playing field. New, non-established writers get the same information and tips as the established ones. Everyone's equal. For me, that seemed to cut through some of the politics and give everyone a chance. Ultimately, it's about the song, anyway. If it's a good enough song, it will cut through the chase and for me, TAXI had the ability to get my songs to the right people."

Although she's been a member for about four years, Nanette does not ask for screener critiques of her music. And here's why: "I feel pretty confident with my music. I've been through that whole critique thing and it's cool, but it's really somebody else's opinion. I'm at the point now where I'm my biggest critic. In other words, if this song isn't good enough for me, it isn't gonna leave my house. I'm here--I'm looking at this objectively and listening to it. So if it gets the ok from me, I believe it's all good."

Critiques or not, Nanette Maxine couldn't be more positive about TAXI than she is now. She still feels that the company is providing much needed exposure for songs and new artists. "TAXI keeps you rooted in the business. They do the leg work for us and it makes sense."

Although Nanette Maxine has won almost every major songwriting contest there is, she is intelligent enough to realize that she still does not have the time or the inclination to knock on all of the industry doors. She lets TAXI do that for her.


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