Tuesday, July 9th: NIKKI HILL
Independence has always come easy for vocalist/lyricist/bandleader Nikki Hill. Raised in the church and choir as a child, curiosity led Nikki to trade the pews for barstools, sneaking into venues when necessary, and was soon immersed in North Carolina's roots scene as a young teen. She felt oddly comfortable, finding a direct connection between the energy she saw at local shows, and the intense praise dancing, gospel shouting church services she was raised in. Seeing everything from Dexter Romweber to Carolina Chocolate Drops, Bo Diddley to Motorhead, her new sermons came from rockers and bartenders, cowpunks and starving artists.
By the time Hill released "Here's Nikki Hill" in 2013, the rarity of Black rock 'n roll singers/entertainers in the modern circuit and the large lack of knowledge of the impact of Black musicians on American roots music, left Hill in an odd spot. Labels came calling, but were looking for stylings of the more well-known Hill, or of a more boxed-in retro feel that could be fully embraced by the purists Nikki had come to abhor from her former years of teen rebellion.
Nikki played over 20 festivals and close to 200 venue shows in 2013, building audiences across the US and Europe. Nikki moved to New Orleans, LA, returning to the south, and picking up influence through the Gulf Coast. The momentum continued through the release of her second album "Heavy Hearts Hard Fists" in 2015. With fiery soul and heavy R&B with rock n' roll boogie and tons of attitude to match, the album kept Hill touring in the US and Europe, adding Australia and India and Morocco to the tour schedule, and over 30 festivals a year, including Montreux Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Byron Bay Blues Festival and more.
Nikki's newest record, "Feline Roots,” was released in 2018. She is performing at the Kalamazoo Blues Festival on July 12th.