GENEVA – Hometown girl Niykee Heaton, 19, arrived from the airport Wednesday to a cheering crowd of about 30 fans and well-wishers in front of the old courthouse on Third Street in Geneva.
Heaton released her debut EP, “Bad Intentions” yesterday on Steve Rifkind and Russell Simmons’ All Def Music in partnership with Capitol Records. It was third of the top 10 pop albums downloaded on iTunes, according to the PopVortex website.
Her mother, Veronica Heaton, arranged the stop in Geneva as Niykee was coming back from New York.
“You guys are so sweet,” a surprised Niykee said as some former classmates and others from Geneva High School cheered for her and hollered, “Bad Intentions.”
“This is really cool, and it’s crazy that everyone showed up to say hi to me,” Niykee said. “I didn’t know I had fans here.”
Former classmates Megan Albrecht, 18 and Bri Phillips, 17, both seniors, along with freshmen students Alissa Ross, Paige Engebretson, Emily Bourbeau and Kristin Briner, all 14, said they are all fans of Heaton and her music. All were among those who turned out to greet Heaton.
“It’s very exciting,” Veronica said. “When she was a little girl, she said, ‘I think I’m going to sing for the whole world and feed all the children.’ ”
She said her daughter will be able to use her music to change lives by promoting organ donation and help for underprivileged children in her mother’s native South Africa.
“There’s millions of people who live without running water,” Veronica said. “She is determined to make that better.”
Veronica said her daughter takes inspiration by her late older sister, Rachel Heaton, who beat liver cancer and survived a liver transplant and two kidney transplants. Rachel, a 2004 Geneva High School graduate, died in 2007 at age 21 while waiting for a second liver transplant.
Because of her strong academics at Geneva High School, Niykee got a full scholarship to the University of Virginia. Her stepfather Paul Cevk said she put the scholarship on hold to pursue her dream.
Veronica said her daughter would be home only about 48 hours.
“Her agent found her online in 2012 and thought she was spectacular,” Veronica said. “She traveled to New York with her agent, landed in Florida and is going all over Canada and the U.S. She writes all her own lyrics and has full creative rights. She plays guitar and piano – but she can really play anything.”