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Byron Shire
November 28, 2021

The Thrill of Nikki Hill

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Back by popular demand to Bluesfest for 2017 is Queen of Soul, Nikki Hill. 

Hailing from North Carolina, and influenced mostly by Little Richard, Nikki comes by her Deep South soul honestly. This blues shouter and growler is a bona fide rock’n’roll diva who has audiences wrapped around her finger. After wowing the crowds at Bluesfest in 2015,  Nikki Hill and her band have been touring extensively following the independent Heavy Hearts, Hard Fists (October 2015).

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.

We found out more about her love of music…

What is the one song that reminds you of growing up and why?

Little Red Corvette was on a mixtape of a friend of mine in middle school. We hit it off in homeroom, and started going to live shows and getting into trouble together, sneaking out of town, cutting each other’s hair in the bathroom at school, and all of that. She had this mixtape that was punk rock and 80s stuff. We would play each other new tapes/CDs of bands we liked, but that mixtape was always the go-to. Driving around with nothing to do but blast this tape and harmonise to the songs together was one of our favourite things. We’re still friends and those moments are just as important as a lot of the wild shit we did!

What is the song/s that get you on the dance floor every time?

If Al Jackson Jr or Howard Grimes or Phil Rudd played drums on it, I’m on the dance floor. Plain and simple!

What is the song that’s always busted out when no-one is around? Why?

Tom Jones singing It’s Not Unusual. Although I would play this with people around too. It’s a catchy song, Tom Jones is a killer singer, and sexy as hell, and if you grew up in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air era like I did, that song holds a special place. We all know the Carlton Dance!

What are the songs on high rotation in your car at the moment?

Been listening to Lee Moses’s Time and Place album on repeat. Adorable One just tears me up! Iggy Pop and the Stooges’ Search and Destroy, Amy Winehouse’s Just Friends, Seratones’ Chandelier, Gary Clark Jr’s The Healing and Toots and the Maytals have probably been my go-to for the past, well, forever. I’m really studying Toots’s singing style right now. I just saw him live for the first time this summer, and I was so blown away. I’ll definitely never forget the impact his sound had on me!

What was your wedding song?

Our wedding song was Otis Redding’s I Love You More Than Words Can Say.

Your favourite song to cover at the moment?

You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory…

If you could sing a duet with anyone dead or alive whom would it be and what would be the song?

Let’s do alive and dead because this is just killing me, okay? For someone no longer with us, I would have loved to do a duet with Lemmy. I think doing a rock’n’roll version of No Good Lover by Mickey and Sylvia would have been so much fun. Alive, from my gigantic list of dreams, I would say Mavis Staples. I would sing whatever the hell she told me to, because I don’t really think Mavis could steer me or anyone wrong.

Your all-time rock’n’roll hero is…? Why?

Sister Rosetta Tharpe – she could walk the walk, talk the talk, was incredibly innovative, emotive, and passionate about her music, and looked good while doing it. She’s a pioneer as far as I’m concerned.

Nikki Hill, the act to catch at Bluesfest this year. If you’re lucky she’ll do her rendition of AC/DC’s Whole Lotta Rosie! For tickets and program information go to bluesfest.com.au.

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