Friday, December 6, 2019
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Niqi Brown: Life as a Tina Turner impersonator

On stage they call her Tina. Tina Turner. She’s got the walk. The big hair. She’s definitely got the voice. She’s got charisma with the crowd, too.

Niqi Brown, who was in Dubai recently for a Tina Turner tribute act at the Millennium Airport Hotel, says she’s been doing this job for more than ten years “but it really doesn’t feel like that.” Fans have called her Turner’s best impersonator by far.

“I’m so lucky I wake up doing a job I love and I actually look forward to going to work!” she told Gulf News.

“I love Tina’s strength, attitude, talent and charisma. I think she’s a great role model for women,” Brown said, explaining why she chose to impersonate her idol, “she doesn’t just stand and sing, she moves and dances and talks to the crowd.”

Brown talks about her day job, her dream gig, her unforgettable performances and what she’d say to Tina in person.

What led to your career as a Tina Turner impersonator?

Like all good things, it was my mum’s idea, I was singing and dancing around and she suggested I try it. I really wasn’t convinced at first but mums always know best! 

Tell us about the first time you performed as “Tina Turner”

The first time, I was very nervous of course, but through the performance I was connecting with the audience, seeing everyone singing and dancing along gave me such confidence that I soon forgot about being on stage. 

Do people mistake you for Tina Turner?

I really don’t get mistaken for Tina, and it’s because when I’m not performing I look completely different; I don’t wear the costume or the big hair. Though I do constantly change my hair styles, I love to mix things up and so I always look different.

Tell us about your most unforgettable experience as an artist.

I am really lucky having been able to perform around the world, one of the shows I have done was on a cruise ship and usually when the passengers leave the ship for the England I also go with them on the same flights, so they all knew who I was, and as I boarded the plane every single person started singing Simply the Best and started clapping. It was really overwhelming and defiantly one of my most memorable moments.

How have you practiced to perfect your Tina Turner impersonation?

This is something I get asked a lot, and for me there is no rehearsal, I don’t stand in front of a mirror and dance. When before my first show, I gave myself a two – three week deadline to get the moves down and now I really don’t practise at all, it’s like a switch in my head labelled ‘Tina’ and when I go on stage I flick it. 

Do you see yourself doing this in the next few years?

I’m not ready to put my wig down and say goodbye to Tina just yet, but I do write and record my own music, it’s really nice that I have fans that want to see me as Niqi and not Tina, so it is something that I might focus on more in the future.  For now, I am balancing them both well and being Tina gives me so many opportunities and so much joy that it isn’t something I am willing to part with any time soon.

My dream gig would be to perform with Tina Turner of course! After all she is simply the best!

What was your most memorable gig?

There have been so many, if I had to choose one it would probably be me singing on top deck on New Year’s Eve on a beautiful cruise-ship sailing through the Caribbean Sea.

Which Tina Turner song is your favourite and why?

I have to say its Proud Mary it has so much energy and everyone always dances to it, it is a great way to finish and start the night and it is so catchy!

If you could describe your life using a Tina Turner song, what song would it be?

It would have to be ‘What’s love got to do with it?’ it is such a reachable song. I’ve have had my own heart break through the years and can really relate to this song on so many levels.

What would you say to Tina if you met her in person?

If I got to meet Tina, I would probably be really star struck! It’s always been one of my dreams and I would say a massive ‘thank-you’ for her inspirational music and attitude. Meeting her would be such an honour!

More tribute acts

The Millennium Airport Hotel has several more tribute acts following Niqi, including Phil Collins tribute act on March 27, Tom Jones tribute act on April 1 and Lionel Richie tribute act on April 29.