VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Several up-and-coming female artists from Hampton Roads are leading the pack among local talent performing during Something in the Water weekend.
For nearly every community event scheduled outside of the main festival stages, you’ll consistently find these three headliners: R&B singers Shaolinn and Gee Litt, and local reggaetón artist Nat Ramos.
All three are from Virginia Beach, and could very well join Pharrell Williams, Missy Elliott, and the other 757 musical greats at Something in the Water in the near future.
Shaolinn, who’s signed to Pusha T’s Heir Wave Music and Def Jam Recordings, has been billed as the next big thing out of the Tidewater music scene and is getting ready to release her first studio album. She’s playing at two events this weekend: on Thursday at a Something in the Water kickoff event at the Bunker Brewpub on 21st Street (a ticketed event) and the unaffiliated Something Indie Water festival on Friday around 3 p.m. at the FFX Theater on 16th Street.
Nat is also performing at the Thursday Bunker Kickoff, at Something Indie Water on Sunday (around 11:45 a.m.), and at the 24th Street Community Stage on Saturday (around 5 p.m.)
Gee Litt, who shares a management team with Shaolinn in RVG Management, has four appearances in total: the Bunker event Thursday, at Something Indie Water Friday afternoon (around 3 p.m.) and two stops on Sunday, including the Something in the Water community stage at 24th Street.
“It’s really an awesome feeling [performing in my hometown], I haven’t really digested it yet, but it’s really amazing to see the work I’ve put in come to fruition,” says Gee Litt, whose real name is Gabby Chapman.
The 24-year-old’s been in the music business for about five years now, after graduating from Green Run High in Virginia Beach. She actually bought her own recording studio two years ago, after starting to record music herself on her cousin’s equipment.
She comes from a big family of musicians.
Watch WAVY’s full interview with Gee Litt above
“All of my life I was really playing instruments, I played violin, I played bass, electric bass at church … all of my family is musically-inclined, so I was just a part of it, and then when I graduated high school I just started recording vocals and things of that nature, and it took off from there,” Gee Litt said in an interview with WAVY.
She started making waves in December 2021 with the single “Solo,” which started with a freestyle as Gee Litt stared at a red Solo cup across the room. It features catchy and breezy lines like “penthouse suite with the ocean view, but ain’t nothin’ better than the sight of you.”
“I heard the beat, I was like I’m gonna do some Erykah Badu feeling like, melodic wise … I freestyled the whole song laying down really.”
That’s the song she performed on the main stage at last year’s Broccoli City Festival in Washington, D.C.
“It was raining … it was a good 10,000 [people in the crowd] … I don’t even remember being on stage really, I just remember I did my call and response and it was like a roar coming back to me.”
Could those cheers be coming from thousands at Something in the Water in the future? Gee hopes so. In the meantime, she’s working on another single and music video and expects to drop a new project sometime this fall.
Shaolinn also has new music on the way in the form of a debut album, which her management team says will include “several esteemed Grammy winners and nominees.” She didn’t have details yet on who that may be but expects the project to hopefully be dropped by the end of the year.
Watch WAVY’s full interview with Shaolinn above
“Working on a lot of new music I’m really excited for … I’m just happy for all of this, because I work hard. It’s just really exciting.”
Shaolinn says she’s pretty much the exact opposite of Gee Litt in terms of style.
“I feel like we’re just two different people, and the fact that two different people get to represent like all of the local communities and just the local shows at Something in the Water … it’s super dope, she’s just a dope person in general,” Shaolinn said.
“When it comes to her music she’s very laid back, calm, and I think mine’s more in your face,” Gee Litt said.
Shaolinn (yes, that is her legal name, thanks to her mother’s love of Wu-Tang Clan) graduated from Ocean Lakes High in Virginia Beach after stops at Lake Taylor and Bayside.
She says it was “very hectic” during that high school era with the constant moves, and insecurities that she spotlights in her 2021 single “Heavy Heart.” She thinks thatability to be vulnerable really helps people relate to her music.
“Just constantly going through things in high school like insecurities, and just not really being confident in myself when it just came to being myself … I feel like that affected me mentally to the point I didn’t want to do a lot of courageous things … and it took me a while to break out of that.”
She says her big breakthrough came after high school when she won the Be Heard contest at the 2019 Revolt Summit in Atlanta. With about an hour to go before auditions closed, a woman named Mercedes fortunately plucked her out of a line of more than 100 people, and the rest was history.
“She was amazing and has been supporting me through, all the way from 2019 to now, she’s just a great lady … shouts out to Mercedes.”
Shaolinn also credits her eighth-grade teacher Ms. B. for helping inspire her love of poetry, and her mother for sharing a diverse array of music growing up.
“Throughout my life my mom would listen to Eminem, Mariah Carey, Lauryn Hill, Nickelback, sometimes Bob Marley, sometimes house music, dubstep … I feel like that’s why I have such an open perspective on the types of music I listen to and enjoy.”
“My mom loved Nickelback a lot, and had all the CDs and everywhere and we’d listen to Nickelback on every roadtrip, it was awesome,” said Shaolinn, who did say that she can’t listen to “Photograph” anymore.
“It’s just too much,” she laughed.
Shaolinn says her dream would be to play on one of Something in the Water’s main stages in the near future, but this year she’s just thrilled to be able to share all the local talent that Hampton Roads and Virginia have to offer.
“I’m excited for everyone to meet us, because we’re all, every local artist, is just all different and great, and we all have something different to bring to the table.”
One who Shaolinn says is doing it like no one else locally is Nat Ramos, aka Nat.
“I love her,” Shaolinn said, “Every time I watch her perform, I’m like ‘bro, shouts out to her,’ like for just even representing the style of music she does, like just the Latin music, that’s so dope.”
Watch WAVY’s full interview with Nat above
Nat performs reggaetón, a Latin American dance music that was born in her mother’s native Panama and popularized in Puerto Rico through artists such as Daddy Yankee, whose 2004 hit “Gasolina” fired the genre into the musical mainstream.
Nat says this weekend’s event at 24th Street in coordination with Something in the Water will be the biggest stage she’s performed on to date.
“The closest I’ve ever gotten was performing at Waterside Latin Fest, and that was probably the most nerve wracking experience, only because it’s in front of people of the same culture as myself, my community too at the same time, but at this level it’s unimaginable to be honest.”
This comes after years of working with local producer/DJ Gabe Niles (the man behind Something in the Water’s new community stages) on fine-tuning her sound and performing wherever she could locally to spread the gospel of reggaetón.
Nat says for her it’s all about connecting with people, even if they might not know Spanish (which she performs in about 90% of the time).
“My number one thought is knowing if I can put a smile on their face or make them feel good for the next 10-15 minutes or even an hour, that’s the number one thing that just allows me to know if I put on a good show.”
She says Daddy Yankee’s been her biggest influence, as well as Colombian artist Feid, who’s performing this weekend at Something in the Water.
Nat hopes one day she’ll too be right there, just blocks away from this weekend’s events.
“Yes, absolutely, that would be awesome.”
You can follow all three artists on their Instagram pages and get the latest updates on their performances during and after Something in the Water weekend: Nat’s is @solamentenat, Shaolinn’s is @samuraishao, and Gee Litt’s is @thereal.geelitt.
They’re all also featured on Something in the Water’s Community Playlist.