Nadia Ali was born in Libya to Pakistani parents in 1980. The family relocated when she was five years old and she was subsequently raised in Queens, New York. In a family environment heavily influenced by education, she was
Nadia Ali was born in Libya to Pakistani parents in 1980. The family relocated when she was five years old and she was subsequently raised in Queens, New York. In a family environment heavily influenced by education, she was expected to pursue a career as a doctor or lawyer. An eight-year-old Nadia used any opportunity she could get to sing.
While continuing singing as a hobby and for the thrill of performing and receiving no formal vocal training, she had also started writing poems and songs for her friends by the time she was 15. As a teenager her interest in dance music developed after visiting a club in Manhattan and inspired her to dream that she would one day be featured on one of the records playing in the club.
Ali started working in the New York offices of Versace when she was 17, where she attracted attention by singing at the Christmas parties. A colleague from Versace introduced her to producer Markus Moser, who was looking for a female singer to collaborate on some of his original productions for a girl group in Germany. The two teamed up with Moser working on production, while Ali wrote the lyrics and vocals for the songs.
Her first song was the single 'Rapture', which she wrote in 30 minutes based on an encounter with an Australian nightclub patron. A demo of the song was first played at the New York club Twilo in 2001 and received early support from influential DJ Pete Tong who played the demo on his show on BBC Radio 1.
The song eventually became an Ibiza favourite after support from prominent DJ's such as Sasha, Danny Tenaglia and Sander Kleinenberg during the summer season. Released in late 2001 by Ministry of Sound, the single became a commercial success peaking at No. 2 on UK Singles Chart and Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play Chart, while charting in several countries in Europe.
The success of 'Rapture' caused the formation of iiO, as the music they were initially working on, was quite different from dance music and were asked to come up with a project name to promote the single. They originally named themselves Vaiio after the Sony VAIO laptop Ali used to write the lyrics on. The duo toured internationally and released several more singles, including 'At the End', 'Runaway', 'Smooth', and 'Kiss You'. Their first studio album, Poetica followed in 2005.
Ali left the group in 2005 to pursue a solo career, while Moser continued to release iiO material featuring her on vocals. Most notably, these releases include the 2006 single 'Is It Love?' which reached No. 1 in America on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Chart, the 2007 remix album Reconstruction Time: The Best Of iiO Remixed and the 2011 studio album Exit 110.
Nadia Ali’s time with iiO was a great learning experience but she decided to leave because she didn't want to restrict herself to one style of music but explore her creativity and also to have the freedom to collaborate with others artists.
Her decision to pursue a career as a singer was not initially encouraged by her parents who were academically inclined and wanted her to pursue a more stable career. But, since then they have evolved and are one of her biggest supporters. Her identity as a Pakistani woman, is very important to her to set an example that they are able to contribute positively and capable of taking their career into their own hands.
Nadia feels it as her responsibility to any women who are sometimes stereotyped to show that they can contribute to arts or any professional field. Her ethnicity has been an advantage and helped her stand out in the entertainment industry. She has over the years met South Asian women who have told her that her story has inspired them to pursue something they loved.