Nikki Hill's long way home | Music
INDY Week's music blog

Archives | RSS

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Nikki Hill's long way home

Posted by on Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Nikki Hill’s show at Local 506 this Thursday night is something of a homecoming. The soul singer and her Blues Music Award-winning husband, guitarist Matt Hill, met in the Triangle before migrating to St. Louis together more than two years ago. When they left, Nikki was a supportive wife and music addict, not a performer. Hopefully, then, she will excuse the locals for their surprise over the prodigal’s artistic emergence.

“I had no idea she was a musician,” says Glenn Boothe, who employed her as a bartender at Local 506. The same club where she once slung drinks now hosts her return as a singer, supporting her fine full-length debut, Here’s Nikki Hill. Though she claims to be an amateur, you’d never suspect it from her spirited, Stax-style blues-rock. There’s a sweet fire burning down below, whether it’s the minor-key soul of “Right on the Brink,” which strolls like an Ike Turner blues ballad, or an infectious reggae-tinged cover of Doug Sahm’s “Who Were You Thinking Of?”

Nikki and Matt met while he was fronting Greensboro band Matt Hill and the Buzzkills about seven years ago. Their mutual friends thought they would hit it off, and they did, becoming best friends. That’s where things stayed for a long time before romance sparked. Even before that, Matt was pushing Nikki to embrace her gift—a rich, sultry voice in the style of Etta James, weaned on the church choir and burnished by an enthusiast’s love of good music.

“I love listening to it at home, live, wherever, whenever,” Nikki says on the eve of her tour. “Actually, between working at the 506 and hanging out with so many musicians, I was really opposed to ending up with a musician. It just happened. It’s almost like if it didn’t happen with that timing, this never would have come about.”

In 2011, Matt Hill’s debut solo album, On the Floor, won the Blues Music Award for Best New Artist. A year later, before the release of follow-up Tappin’ That Thang, the Hills moved to St. Louis, mainly for its geographical centrality. There, Matt finally wore down Nikki’s reluctance to perform.

“He was always like, ‘You should be on stage. You should be doing this. You know a lot about it. It’s obvious you’re talented,’ and I’m thinking, ‘Don’t bullshit me,’” she says, chuckling. “He was really insistent about it, so I did a couple small things, sitting in with him and his friends. The response was always great.”

“Once we got started,” she continues, “it gave Matt and I another thing to do together. It was always our intention to be partners-in-crime. We get to work together in a way that we had never worked before, and that was really exciting.”

She’s also happy to be returning to Chapel Hill for this concert. Though the pair already played a show in Durham that turned into a hoedown with friends, playing the 506 is another thing.

“Hopefully, Glenn will be there,” she says, “and just to think about going back to your true old stomping grounds—this has been my first real year of touring and you couldn’t ask for a better experience. We played close to 30 festivals. It was just like, ‘What a trip.’ We’re pretty mind-blown over here.”

Tags: , , , ,

Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Music

Twitter Activity


I was proud to call him Uncle Willy cousin with the same birthday

by Blackfoot on Proud to call him Lumbee: Willie French Lowery, 1944-2012 (Music)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Most Recent Comments

I was proud to call him Uncle Willy cousin with the same birthday

by Blackfoot on Proud to call him Lumbee: Willie French Lowery, 1944-2012 (Music)

Revive is my people. If folks were offended by this, I can assure you it wasn't intentional. Revive Music was …

by Matthew Allen on Art of Cool Festival, Night One: Revive Big Band's Music-History Concert Leaves Out Women to an Absurd Degree (Music)

Small crowds like the one in Utrecht The Netherlands where I was with my 7 year young daughter may be …

by George Hendriks on The blues of Randall Bramblett's career-long cult status—and the promise of his new Devil Music (Music)

Wow! I am speechless. Skylar that was amazing! You are very talented. I love your vocal range and passion. Thank …

by Rita Romaine Rakestraw on Video Premiere: Phil Cook and Skylar Gudasz Nod to Alice Gerrard in New Tribute Clips (Music)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation