Their Music is Sky High
BY Diane Anderson-Minshall
February 16 2012 5:00 AM ET
Sister acts are nothing new, but when the siblings are as hot as Latina identical twins Nicole and Natalie Albino, people tend to pay attention. And the fact that one of them is a lesbian that makes it all the hotter for LGBT audiences. Headlining the Dinah, an annual lesbian pilgrimage, the women of genre-defying Nina Sky — they devised their band name using the first two syllables of their names ("Ni" and "Na") then added Sky (as in the sky's the limit) — are riding a wave of success this year.
They had a smash hit with "Move Ya Body," which earned them instant global recognition when it hit number 4 on Billboard's Hot 100 Chart, but it certainly wasn't their first duet. "Our first song was called 'Sisters,'" says Nicole. "It was really wholesome and nice. The lyrics went 'Sisters, we're gonna get through life together, and I will not let you go.' Our family was always super supportive of us wanting to be singers, especially our mom. She would bring us to auditions."
Raised in Queens, N.Y., the girls grew up listening to salsa music, their Spanish-speaking mother making traditional Puerto Rican food in the kitchen. "I don't know about all Latin families, but in ours family is very important — we are all very close, family first," recalls Natalie. So close that when one came out as a lesbian, the family rallied behind her.
Growing up, they were also exposed to some wonderful Latin singers who greatly influenced them, Natalie says. "We love La India. Her voice is incomparable to anyone and she's performed everything from salsa to house music."
Their influences may explain why the music of Nina Sky is so hard to define. An eclectic mix of hip-hop, rock, pop, reggae, and R&B, Nina Sky's self-titled debut album for Universal was unprecedented coming from young Puerto Rican twin sisters who were easy on the eyes. A slew of singles and collaborations soon followed.
"The first time we heard 'Move Ya Body' on the radio in 2004, was a 'We made it' moment. We made it to the radio!" Nicole exclaims. "The first time we traveled overseas and saw our faces in magazines gave us the same feeling. All of those things are great milestones in our career, but we're always striving for more." More would soon follow.
In 2010, Nicole became one of the first Latina recording artists to publicly come out as lesbian. She married fashion designer Erin Magee (who made her own news by sporting a tattoo that read "Mrs. Albino" across her chest). Sister Natalie has never talked about her orientation, though both women have been sporting a decidedly more butch style in recent years; gone are the long flowy locks and slinky dresses. And they have been vocal about LGBT rights, performing at Rome's Pride festival and posing for the No H8 campaign, for example.
As musicians and DJs, they've been garnering fans overseas and at home in droves. After a battle with their record label, Polo Grounds, over lack of support, Nina Sky independently released an eight-track EP, The Other Side, direct to fans for digital download last August.