An Interview With Cameron Nino, The Thirteen-Year-Old Guitarist And Lead Singer Of Seventh Nova.
By: John Dubosky
Photos By: Robert John Photography & Donna Perrell
Cameron Nino is grabbing a snack after school when I call for our interview. His mom answers and tells me he’ll be there shortly. At the time, Nino had just performed at a pre-Grammy party at the El Ray Theater in Los Angeles, celebrating the success of his band, Seventh Nova’s new single, On The Floor.
This was to be the first time I had spoken with Nino, (born Cameron Nwede). His reputation had preceded him; I had seen and heard his work previously, and I was impressed. At the age of 13, he’s already performing, writing, and recording music at a professional level. Guitar is his primary instrument, but, with a cloning device, he could feasibly also be his own backing band. He sings, and he’s proficient at drums, guitar, and piano. “Next up is the cello. I just want to add to the music I already know. I like learning a lot of instruments and I just want to have more fun with it,” Nino said as we chatted after school.
He’s been playing since he was eight years old and has already, at the age of 13, worked with an impressive roster of musicians, most notably Sheldon Reynolds, guitarist and lead vocalist for, Earth Wind and Fire. Seventh Nova is in and out of studios, practice rooms, and concert halls around Los Angeles, where Nino lives.
A West Coast resident, Nino is no stranger to Pittsburgh. “I love Pittsburgh. My mom’s from there, my grandpa, everyone I know basically. If there was any other place I could live, it would definitely be Pittsburgh. I love the Steelers, go Pens!,” Nino said.
Watching him play, it’s obvious that his command of the stage is rare for such a young artist. He banters with crowds, sings on key, and has a versatile style of guitar playing, switching from rhythm to lead effortlessly. “He’s got a huge personality, he’s got personality written all over him,” Kimmarie Johnson, his mother, said. His stage presence seems unchallenging to him in large part because of dedication and hours of repetition. “I play music every single day. I have to put in an hour and a half or I can’t believe I’ve really practiced. You get 24 hours a day, there’s time,” Nino said.
His schedule isn’t for the faint of heart, although you wouldn’t know that by talking to him. On the phone, he’s engaging, attentive, and full of energy for somebody who had already knocked out a day of school and had basketball practice, homework, and almost two hours of guitar playing ahead of him. As daunting as that may seem, he says it’s worth it. “Working, practicing, doing stuff multiple times, for hours a day, it’s not easy at all. I love it, but it’s very difficult, hard, repetitive. Once I get on stage, I feel all that hard work kick in, the confidence, I feel confident on stage, and after, it’s just amazing. When my music reaches people, to make people smile, to make people happy, to make them have fun, to relieve their problems and get them out of their life for a bit, that’s fantastic to me,” said Nino.
He’ll need to keep up the hard work if he wants to realize his goals. They’re a tall order, he expects a lot from himself. But when you look at what this guy has accomplished, it’s not hard to see something like this happening: “When I grow up, I’m not gonna do just one thing. I’m gonna play basketball, guitar, write, perform. My one goal, my one dream in my life is that I’m going to be in the championship final game in the NBA (for The Lakers or maybe Oklahoma City), and before I get into the game, I play the Star Spangled Banner,” Nino said.
Even though he’s a very impressive kid all around, perhaps his most striking attribute is his down-to-earth nature, (despite some lofty goals). He recognizes how stressful the entertainment business can be. His advice: persevere, but have fun with it. “If you have something you want to accomplish- do it. If you love something so much you’d want to do it for your life- that’s the one thing you need to do. Just because you think you love it, doesn’t mean there will be times when you don’t like it. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into anything you want to do, doesn’t matter what it is. Even a riff on the guitar that’s super-fast, it takes hard work,” Nino said.
The next time you catch up with him, you might be buying tickets to one of his shows. Or maybe, you’ll be watching him from your couch during March Madness. One thing’s for sure, this kid is dedicated, talented, and on the path to something great.
You can catch Cameron Nino perform with, Seventh Nova this summer at CitiPark’s Live In Schenley Park concert. You can find Nino on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, and Reverb Nation. You can hear his new single, On The Floor, on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and CameronNino.com.