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Niya Petrova: the globe-trotting free-spirited musician, activist and winner of 'The Voice' Bulgaria

“Just before COVID I was burning out. I can’t do it anymore, I need a break.” Before the pandemic, Niya Petrova’s life was going a hundred miles per hour. Now, a more relaxed Niya uses the time to concentrate on her music and the recording of her first studio album. And in the midst of this calm, we manage to have a quick chat.

When interviewing most musicians, you’ll probably find that their first word was a soprano, or they have been gigging as a foetus. But this wasn’t necessarily the case for Niya. “I started when I was little, 7 years old, and I hated it, I really hated it. It was like, your parents put you in a choir, and you don’t fit in. And I decided that’s not for me.”

However it wasn’t until her teenage years when Niya found a natural shift to music. “In school, we have this pretty cool music cabaret where we could gather, play songs, listen to music, and bunk off from other classes and go there and play.”

Cindy Lauper and her songs were a huge inspiration.

Niya has a self-confessed erratic brain. “I had this problem that I want to do so many things. I want to start and start things, then there are too many and I can’t finish them all. So I stop everything and start taking my time for each and everything.”

Overloaded with interests, Niya’s centre and balance came in the form of a nation wide singing competition, Bulgaria's 'The Voice'. This kickstarted her transformation into a true musician. A musician with a unique sound, and a bulging confidence. “I have never been so involved in music before. I only had gigs before, it was like a hobby rather than an actual, profession” she said. "After the Voice I realised that I want to do this more, and I want to do this more professionally.”

Some argue that shows like 'the Voice' stifle talent and suppress the integrity of an artist. But this wasn’t the case for Niya: “There is a whole team of vocal coaches that work on your song, and work on the potential of your voice. Its a lot of work, but its all worth it.”

But Niya is more than a voice. She knows exactly who she is and a talent show will not compromise that. “I was never willing to change myself to win something.”

Hold that thought, because music is not Niya’s only profession. Niya also works for a Bulgarian LGBT+ charity, called ‘Single Step.' “At single step, I started there even before being on 'the Voice.' I started there as a volunteer. Then, after that, I continued working on some projects, in developing camp out, for LGBTQI artists, to develop their art. Also working for a project concerning social workers, and the education of social workers.”

Niya now spends most of her time in the recording studio, finishing off her first record, due out in the Spring. “The album will be more funk/soul. It will be mixed with different styles. From the last couple of months, I’m only listening to soul music and funk.” True to her personality, she continues, “I don’t want to keep myself in one style or genre, because I don’t think a person can only do one thing, or stick to one thing.”

I decided on what kinds of sounds, and then a bit of a melody. Then I start humming it, then the guy who is making the music just patches it up. Then I start making the lyrics.

“I cannot stay in one place for a long time. The past year is the first year that I haven’t travelled anywhere.” Catch Niya whilst you can, because this free spirit is destined to follow her heart. Let's see where it takes her. It's probably going to be somewhere quite special.

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