Music: Pop Star Nikkole Charts Soulful Path with R&B Royalty
Award-winning pop-dance music star Nikkole is revisiting her R&B roots and creating a fresh, soulful sound for 2020.
Known for her Billboard chart-topping songs “Zero” and “Gonna Get It Right” from her breakthrough studio album Hallucinations, the singer-songwriter teamed with legendary pop and R&B music master Leon Sylvers (Dam-Funk, N’Dambi, Blackstreet, New Kids on the Block) to produce her forthcoming collection.
While focusing on a particular lane, sticking to whatever tried-and-true vibe can surely please a core audience of fans, the two said they saw a solid chance to expand the range of emotions she explores for the not-yet-titled release.
I sensed the tone of true partnership the moment I met them at their Los Angeles studio: The entertainer shifted more deeply into her songwriting craft and he is focused on shaping distinctive, yet complimentary sounds for the artist. Excitement elevates as they near the release finish line, fueled by a passion for collaboration—and copious amounts of Starbucks and Alfred’s Coffee: “We drink so much coffee at the studio, we ought to own a farm in South America!”
Academy award-winning recording star and master guitar player Ray Parker, Jr., is among her collaborators. (Movie theme fans know him for singing “Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!” but music industry insiders call Parker when they need a beast-level guitar master to come bless recordings, awards show ensembles, and all sorts of major gigs.)
While Nikkole has toured with and/or shared the stage with such stars as Babyface, Boyz II Men, Macy Gray, and Bobby Brown, among others, the singer is a recognized trailblazer in the grassroots-to-mainstream arena.
One of the leaders in the music industry’s shift toward more empowered independent artists, the North Carolina native’s level of chart and international touring success is even more impressive when you look at how the climate of music industry has evolved from the first days of her singing career—when independent artists were far less likely hit and sustain beyond a certain degree—to today.
“I have never been afraid of hard work, ” Nikkole said. “I always have to be ahead of the game and be prepared with my next move.”
Nikkole’s work with British music producer Derek Bramble on the Hallucinations album, her fourth studio album, garnered two International Music and Entertainment Association (IMEA) Awards and four nominations total in 2015. She took home Pop Artist of the Year herself and shared Pop Song of the Year honors with Bramble and co-writer Jeanette Olsson for the single “Zero.” Check out this glimpse behind the scenes from the “Zero” music video set in Malibu, California: