PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The smooth R&B sounds of local artist Lakeisha 'La'Nique' Napper have fans singing along during her performances. But there's a lot more between the lines of her lyrics.

"Nobody had any... idea of what was going on," Napper says.

Before she became 'La'Nique,' Napper was a little girl in New York with a dark secret. 

"My mom used to always ask, 'Granddaddy ever touch you, or anything like that?' And I would be like, 'No,'" she said.

The real answer, however, was 'yes.' It was a painful truth Napper held inside for years, even after moving to Virginia as a preteen. 

"I can't even tell you why I never said, 'Yes, Mommy.' Because if I would've said 'yes,' then it probably would have erased the other three ... four [men] that [touched me] after," says Napper. "My self-esteem was really low, and I had gained a lot of weight."

But through a dark past and uncertain future, one thing remained the same for Napper — her love of music. "You kinda understand that you got a nice voice, and I just ... kept going with it," Napper says. So, singing became her healing, and now she writes songs to inspire others.

The message behind her music, she says, is simple — you don't have to be a vocalist to use your voice. 

"Don't bottle it in. Don't let it stop you from you from your dreams. If you have a passion, stick to your passion. Don't let your past determine your future," Napper says. 

In addition to various performances across Hampton Roads, Napper holds regular shows called 'Back to R&B w/La'Nique' which often features other local artists as well. 

To learn more, visit https://laniquemusic.com/.