Nikki Shannon Fernandez long ago established herself as a mainstay of the unforgiving New York music scene. Her debut album Too Few (Inner Circle, LLC) was recorded at The Crib, the fabled Brooklyn studio of New York veteran musician and producer Nunzio Signore. The album met with unanimous praise and even garnered airplay on New York’s number one FM rocker Q104, on the station’s most prestigious music show “Out of the Box.” Tracks from the album also appeared on two television shows, MTV’s The Hills and ABC’s Six Degrees, proving the emotional impact and visual nature of Nikki’s powerful songs.
Not content to be performing and recording music in the biggest music city in the world, Nikki decided to delve deeper into her songwriting and knew that she wanted to explore other cities where great songwriting thrives. She headed first to London and then to Nashville, the songwriting capital of the world.
Nikki’s time spent in London was a personal sojourn, as well a career move. She soaked up the city’s rich cultural diversity and nearly unfathomable history. A serious relationship transpired that gradually and subconsciously found its way into the new songs that were taking root and simmering in her fertile mind. Then, after briefly returning home to New York, Nikki headed to Nashville.
Once Nikki moved to Nashville to begin to put the new pieces in place that would mark the most dramatic change in her musical career, the songs immediately began to flow and the nurturing Nashville musical songwriting community embraced her heartfelt songs and commanding performing style. She contributed a cover of the song “I Saw Her Standing There” to the album Let Us In (Reviver), a tribute album to Linda McCartney, put together by Linda’s son James McCartney. She also sang at a Breast Cancer Foundation concert at the famed Ryman Auditorium, the one-time home of the Grand Ol’ Opry, in support of the album. She then met Ronnie Dunn of Brooks and Dunn. She toured with Dunn and co-wrote with him his number one song “Grown Damn Man,” from his smash solo album Peace Love and Country Music. She also appeared on Dunn’s solo debut on The View on ABC.
Touring with one of the biggest stars in country music and co-writing a number one song might be enough for some musical artists, but not for Nikki. While maintaining her New York roots, and having explored London and conquered Nashville, Nikki followed her muse in a new direction to what may explode as a new genre of music. She headed to Jamaica, to the spiritual home of reggae music, Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong studios, and recorded an album entitled Kingston to Kingston (EIGHTS LLC) that has just been released in Jamaica and Internationally, will be released in February of 2015 in the U.S. At the album’s core are songs that could only be described as country reggae. This seemingly contradictory meeting of two musical genres on first listen actually is as complementary as the recordings Ray Charles made when he first crossed R&B and country. But there is more to the album than that. While there is plenty of Nikki’s new country reggae sound as well as her signature singer-songwriter style that has been compared to the sounds of Sheryl Crow, Stevie Nicks and Joni Mitchell, there are songs that would not be out of place on pop and dance radio stations. These tracks, though, have a natural rhythmic groove with an emphasis on great songwriting and an enticing, yet mature vocal style that whispers instead of screams to get one’s attention.
In closing Nikki talked about what an incredible experience it was making music in Jamaica and what her future plans are. “I am humbled and so fortunate to have been able to record this album in Jamaica. I have fallen in love with Jamaica and the people who have become apart of me there. For someone who truly lives with music inside of them to experience a place that real, that strong and that vulnerable…it’s like finding your voice for the first time…. it’s like coming home. Now take all of that and pour it out and you’ve got a full album written and recorded in 4 days…when we only went in to record one track”.
Nikki will be touring solo, with a band and with many other artists in the coming months in the United States, Jamaica and England as well as making television and radio appearances.