On October 16th, the North Carolina-bred and New Orleans-based Nikki Hill will release her new album Heavy Hearts, Hard Fists via Deep Fryed Records. Buoyed by her band’s roaring boogie that’s equal parts Staple Singers and AC/DC, the new album sees Nikki exude a self-assured swagger as her fiery rasp preaches the rock & roll gospel: late nights, hot licks, and intoxicating love.
Raised in the church choir and steeped in R&B and garage rock rumble, Nikki Hill is a spitfire with the soul-drenched voice of Etta James and the tattooed, beehived-hair aura of Cramps’ guitarist Poison Ivy. Heavy Hearts, Hard Fists is a showcase for Nikki’s unfettered versatility, whether it’s the debauched bluster of “Struttin'”, the Stonesy barn-burning blues of “(Let Me Tell You ‘Bout) LUV”, or the touching soul ballad “Nothin’ With You”.
Just a couple years ago, Nikki Hill was a bartender with an affinity for punk and a deep love for classic R&B. At her husband (and now guitar-player) Matt Hill’s behest, she stepped out from behind the bar and onto the stage. The response has been ecstatic, and now the band tours the globe relentlessly, stunning audiences with their muscular sound, Matt’s volcanic leads, and, of course, Nikki’s inimitable charisma..
“The fast-rising, hard-charging, 20-something, North Carolina born-and-bred singer Nikki Hill has more than earned her evocative ‘Southern Firebal’ moniker.” LA Weekly
“If Tina Turner and Little Richard had a daughter and raised her with the help of uncles James Brown and Chuck Berry, she’d be like Nikki Hill.” Minneapolis Star Tribune
Nikki Hill and her band are climbing to the top of the roots music scene step by step and leaving jaws on the floor along the way. With their well known high energy show, they take all the flavors of American roots music, to deliver a sound that reminds us all why we love rock n’ roll. Nikki’s gritty and raw voice with dynamics that hint of a long-standing career, driving rhythm guitar, and a tight rhythm section take what we music lovers admire about our roots legends, and then push them to the next level that the world of rock n’ roll has been waiting for.
“Hill is a petite powerhouse, with a booming that is as sweet and lucious as it is gritty and raw ” Portland Monthly
“I’m lucky to play with an amazing band that have wet their feet in all kinds of American music. It gives us a chance to display everything that we love without any restrictions and keep a rocking sound! It’s great while writing and arranging to play with combining different elements of all the music that we enjoy and use it to create our sound,” Nikki says. The self-titled EP that the band has traveled with from state to state and overseas proved with only 4 tunes penned by Hill herself that they have an energy that crosses over many genres, drawing crowds from every avenue at their shows. One club advertisement will call Nikki “The Southern Fireball”, “the new soul sensation”, “amazing R&B shouter”, and even “the new Queen of Rock and Roll”.
“What can I say?,” Nikki questions. “If people feel like we’re giving them all of that, good! What I love so much about what we’re doing is the world is getting to witness our sound as it develops. And what an interesting journey it is. Sure, people may not be able to put their finger completely on it, but if they know it rocks, and they know it makes them feel good, we feel accomplished,” Hill explains.
“Just try to keep up with her” Johnny Whiteside, LA Weekly
It’s hard to believe when you see and hear her, but performing live only since fall 2011, Nikki Hill’s first live billed show was at the legendary Blues City Deli in St. Louis, MO. This now world famous family owned deli and music venue gave Nikki a chance after moving to St. Louis with husband and guitar player, Matt Hill. Both had a dream of playing music together just as friends 8 years ago. But, when the reality hit that they had the opportunity, it was a surprise. Still, with each other’s encouragement, the duo took the chance and played a handful of shows around the St. Louis area.
The local whispers turned to a wider buzz, and with each show, YouTube video, and other improptu performances (sitting in at a jam at Viva Las Vegas Weekender in 2012 brought a major amount of attention that spurred Nikki to write and release the EP), the word of this energetic band continues to spread and shows no signs of stopping.
“If there has been a better original blues bopper released this year than “I Got A Man”, I haven’t heard it yet. Great vocal delivery against some ace lead guitar work.” Rock N Roll Magazine
Prior to that, Hill sang in gospel choirs as a child. It lasted until her teens, when rock and roll took over and she quit. However, the similarities were always apparent for Nikki, and especially now in the midst of her musical career, she can truly note the benefits to singing in church and the stark parallels in the music her band performs now. “I didn’t appreciate it then, but I sure do now. Most of the artists that I credit as influences started off singing in church. No matter what you believe, you take that style with you. It’s intense, it’s raw, it’s REAL…it’s rock and roll!” Nikki says. Whatever this un-realized training did, it’s obvious that it did something and it stuck with Hill whether she expected it or not. It’s hard to believe this 20-something young woman is new to the business and already has co-production, writing, and band leading credits, now with the backing of an international roots music booking agency and management under her belt with what seems like ease.
“Turning heads with her vintage dresses, head scarves, and full-sleeve tattoo, just as Etta James did with her signature bleach blonde hair, the St. Louis-transplant brings new life to a classic sound.” Portland Monthly
“I love what I do!” Hill exclaims. “I quit my day job to do this so now I’m riding it ’till the wheels fall off. Music has always been my life, and now I’m able to dig even deeper into it and I have an excuse. It’s a music nerd’s dream! I just want people to love the music as much as I do, and hopefully it makes them feel good and maybe forget about whatever is going on in their world for just a moment. Our music is real. Our show is real. People feel that! I’m happy to be a part of this wild ride.”
With the release of Here’s Nikki Hill, Nikki and her band plan on hitting cities and events with their no-holds-barred live show in North America and abroad.
official website: nikkihillmusic.com/
Nikki Hill- Lead vocals
Matt Hill - guitar
Joe Meyer - drums
“Nikki Hill looks back to the most confidently grizzled retro sounds…Hill’s got too much passion to tidy things up, but she knows exactly what she’s doing.” SPIN
“Vintage perfection.” Afropunk
“When you have a powerful Southern soul singer with a penchant for AC/DC, you know you’re going to get something badass…A talent not to be ignored. Hell, she packs so much power, she’ll never let you.” PopMatters
“A total knockout, one of the best and most exciting records of the year.” Philadelphia Inquirer
“A fiery performer, channeling some of rock & roll’s most heralded voices, revamping the squalls, screams and shouting-at-the-devil of rock’s pentecostal roots to a blazing new take that she can rightfully call her own, a soul that owes as much to AC/DC as Aretha.” Okayplayer
“A powerhouse singer and killer live performer, Hill’s proudly retro and delivers her brand of soul-rock ‘n’ roll with expressive verve and, with the new songs, great variety and style.” Lincoln Journal Star
“With a voice reminiscent of Etta James, New Orleans-based Nikki Hill fronts a band soaked
in driving, retro R&B…a sound that is equal parts raw energy and calculated homage.” Utne Reader
“A revelation…a spunky rocker with a thrilling voice, charged stage persona and a killer band,
which included her exciting guitarist-husband, Matt Hill.” Downbeat
“Filled with spirited, vintage R&B and rock spiked with fiery guitar by husband Matt Hill.” Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Damned good…a hard-driving, back-alley LP of rock, rhythm and blues.” Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
“Impassioned…fiery soul and R&B with some rock and roll swagger thrown in for good measure.” AllMusic
“She has the chops to make a Lower East Side club feel like a Southern roadhouse.” amNY