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Getting Out of the Way for Your Creative Child

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A young Sydney Nycole and Gary Reeves (Sydney Nycole)

I’ve got a lot to learn when it comes to this fatherhood thing. Not just about love and discipline, but about guiding my daughter toward whatever she aspires to be– and even though she’s only 3, it starts now.

With that said, I figured it was time to talk to a father-daughter-duo with experience.

Sydney Nycole is a singer and songwriter from Berkeley who has been making music since she was a teen. And although her father (and manager) Gary Reeves has been in the industry since the 1980s, Sydney found this passion on her own.

Singer and songwriter Sydney Nycole and her father/manager Gary Reeves
Singer and songwriter Sydney Nycole and her father/manager Gary Reeves (Sydney Nycole)

Once it was established that Sydney, a free spirit who has no problem speaking her mind, was on the path to becoming an artist, it was on Gary to make sure he did his best to be there to support her and to know when to step back and let Sydney do her own thing.

In this conversation, Gary talks about how his experiences working with the likes of Michael Jordan, Jamie Foxx and Blair Underwood informed what it’s like to be a father in the entertainment industry. Sydney also offers some insight into what her father has done to help her on her path.


In between the laughter and jokes, there’s wisdom from a shared experience. And I just sit there and take notes.


Below are lightly edited excerpts of my conversation with Sydney Nycole and Gary Reeves.

Pen: So Gary, when when did you first notice Sydney’s talents?

Gary: A friend of mine who’s an engineer was in town from Florida and basically Sydney had asked you know to go into the studio for her birthday. He took her in. He was gracious enough to kind of –he worked with a lot of big artists. And he said, “Man Sydney can really write, man, and sing, man.” And I’m like, “Dude what are you doing?” And I’m like, Huh? I mean, like Sydney was doing softball and volleyball, you know, in high school. So I’m like we’re working on this softball scholarship is what we doin it right now [delete: he said]. I said I’m not trying to pull Sydney into music. He said, no bro, you got to hear this song, man. You’ve got to hear this song like it’s right in front of you.

Gary: You know, after that, I mean, at the time, I was working heavily with Jamie Foxx. So she said, “Dad, I just want to do these three songs and then have a meeting with Jamie Foxx. And I said, “Okay, cool. I mean, like, that’s not a big ask, OK? You know, I mean, you was like, if anybody can take, you know, so she’s like she’s like, let me just take take me right to the table dad. So I can go land this deal for myself like tomorrow, you know. (Laughs)

Pen: Wait, hold on. Wait, wait. What age is this?

Sydney: This is sixteen. Sixteen!

Pen: Oh yeah. Just let me meet Jamie Foxx. Whatever. I’m a go ahead and get started…

Pen: The reason why I wanted to have this conversation is not only to highlight the work that you all are doing, but also because it’s Father’s Day weekend and I’m a father of a young daughter who’s she’s some type of entertainer. So, like, do you have any advice?

Gary: The main thing is to be loving as a dad, you know? and then be real right? At the same time. Because if we sugarcoat it, the reality is going to hit them in the face at some point if they don’t have what it takes to make it, right? So so from that standpoint, I’m always real with Sydney. Sydney has enough confidence where she will challenge me on certain things, I feel a certain way about. So I just let it go and like, hey, OK that’s your decision, you live with your decision. fine. But Daddy love you, you know. But, understand Daddy’s been in the game for 20 years, so so just understand that.

Sydney: My dad has let me be me. Like I went from volleyball to softball to being a singer to be like just he just let me go. But it was still of course, there’s always love. So I feel like when you let a person be free and still have that love, they’re going to blossom no matter what.

Rightnowish is an arts and culture podcast produced at KQED. Listen to it wherever you get your podcasts or click the play button at the top of this page and subscribe to the show on NPR One, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.

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