SOUL SISTER: The road to fame and fortune is no easy ride, and few know that better than those trying to make it in the biz. For Santa Barbara’s Alycia Nichole, though, it’s a tough trip well worth taking. For the past six years, Nichole has been pursuing music full-force (she’s been singing in and outside the church since she was a youngster), and in the past two, she’s started to make some serious headway, getting nods of approval from big-time stars like Akon and Wyclef Jean. Mega-wattage endorsements aside, Nichole is definitely one worth watching. An R&B artist in the truest sense, her music mixes vibrant pop production with sweet, honeyed vocals (and the occasional hip-hop guest spot). But Nichole also aligns herself with soul music, name-checking some of contemporary music’s finest as sources for inspiration.
“Maxwell, Sade, Adele, Patti LaBelle, Jill Scott—my all-time favorite singer is Patti LaBelle, and the fact that she still has a career today explains it,” laughed Nichole recently. “Maxwell, Sade, and Jill Scott are three musicians who I really enjoy, for their performances, their message, their everything. They’re soul artists, and I have soul and R&B in my heart.”
And it’s precisely that mix that’s helped Nichole to stand out among so many of her fellow rising talents. Most recently, this recognition has come in the form of a high-profile gig. This Wednesday, August 3, Nichole heads down to San Diego to sing in front of a live audience of thousands. She’ll take to Petco Park to perform the national anthem and kick off the Dodgers vs. Padres game.
“When I found out I was singing in front of 20,000 people, I was like, ‘Okay, I can handle that,’ but when I realized it was televised, I freaked out,” Nichole said. “It’s kind of like my moment to not mess up.”
In between a hefty practice schedule, Nichole is keeping plenty busy, too. She’s recently assembled and started rehearsing with a full band, as well as booked a string of tour dates (she plays Red’s on August 19) and launched a fundraising campaign via PledgeMusic to get her album released. The self-titled debut, which hopes to see its official unveiling in the coming months, is Nichole’s greatest labor of love and something she’s more than ready for the world to hear.
“Every track is different; every recording process was different,” she enthused. “But we don’t have a set release date yet, and it’s truly based on how well this campaign goes.”
The campaign, which stretches from now through the beginning of September, will ideally fund the production and printing costs for Nichole’s debut, as well as help put some money in the hands of a cause she holds close to her heart.
“The really cool thing about PledgeMusic is that once I reach my target—and I pray I reach my target—10 percent goes to a foundation of our choosing, which is a foundation locally in Santa Barbara called JAMS that provides free music lessons to at-risk youth.”
In the meantime, though, it’s all about practice, practice, practice, says Nichole: “I’ve been working really hard on the live show, getting the band together, finding dancers, and working on choreography. The only thing that would make it better is being able to go back in the studio and start working on a second project. … When I sing and people hear me, there’s a connection, and I thrive on that connection. I’ve never done music for any other reason than my love of it.”
To hear samples from Nichole’s upcoming self-titled debut, or to help with its release, visit alycianichole.com.