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|Born||October 1, 1978|
Neptune, New Jersey, United States
|Genres||Crooner, soul, psychedelic, Americana|
|Instruments||Vocals, Guitar (Hagstrom Viking, Fender Jazzmaster, Martin D15, Sennheiser 421 with Echoplex)|
|Labels||Single Lock Records, Oh' Mercy/Thirty Tigers, Razor & Tie Records, Columbia, Red Ink|
|Associated acts||Chris Isaak, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Avett Brothers, Jim Sclavunos, A.C. Newman, Joe Russo's Almost Dead|
Nicole Atkins (born October 1, 1978) is an American singer-songwriter. Her influences include 1950s crooner music, 1960s psychedelia, soul music, and the Brill Building style of writing. Atkins has been compared to Roy Orbison and singers from the Brill Building era.
Atkins was born in Neptune, New Jersey. She grew up in Shark River Hills, a middle class enclave within Neptune overlooking the Shark River. Atkins has cited the bay as a major inspiration for her music, particularly the imagery of "the river in the rain" found in the title track on her album Neptune City. She started playing piano at nine years old and taught herself to play guitar at 13. She eschewed more popular acts of the day for musical groups her parents listened to, such as The Ronettes, Johnny Cash, and The Beach Boys. She has cited the vocalists Harriet Wheeler of The Sundays and Cass Elliot as important early influences.
Early beginnings in North Carolina and New York
After high school, Atkins moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to study illustration at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She ingrained herself within the city's independent music scene, discovering bands like Superchunk and Uncle Tupelo. She also started writing original songs and befriending other local musicians. Among other bands, she joined a supergroup in the city called Nitehawk that, at one point, had almost 30 members. After she returned, she joined the band Los Parasols, releasing an EP with them entitled The Summer of Love in 2002. That same year, Atkins moved to the neighborhood of Bensonhurst in Brooklyn, New York. Influenced by the artists signed to independent label Rainbow Quartz, she strayed from the louder rock music she'd played in North Carolina and moved toward the songcraft style of Wilco and Roy Orbison. She returned to Charlotte and played with several bands, most notably a group called Virginia Reel. At this time, she started writing what she termed "a mix of Americana, 60s, and indie rock." She also recorded her EP Bleeding Diamonds.
Early 2003, she commuted into Manhattan by train to play gigs and maintain a connection to the city's underground music scene. In mid-2004, Atkins and David Muller, who had played drums with Fischerspooner and The Fiery Furnaces, started working on a demo CD entitled Party's Over. They recorded most of the album in Atkins' parents' house using a Casio keyboard, a ProTools rig, and a mini recorder. Drum parts were recorded at Muller's apartment in Manhattan, with further tracks recorded at the Dietch Projects gallery in Brooklyn.
2005-2009: The Sea and Neptune City
In early 2005, keyboardist Dan Chen, whom Atkins knew from her days at The Sidewalk Café, approached Atkins about forming a new group. The band, now known as Nicole Atkins & The Sea, was given a residency at the small showcase bar, Piano's, and won the attention of music industry attorney Gillian Bar. She soon found herself in the midst of a bidding war between record labels and signed with Columbia Records in January 2006. In late 2006, Atkins and the Sea traveled to Sweden to record her debut album, Neptune City, at Varispeed Studios in Kalgerup and Gula Studion in Malmö with producer Tore Johansson. The album was originally scheduled for a July 2007 release, but at the behest of Columbia co-chairman Rick Rubin, it was pushed back until October 30, 2007 to accommodate re-mastering the album. It debuted at number 20 on Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart and reached number 6 on the Heatseekers Middle Atlantic Chart. In 2008, Atkins' backing vocals were prominently featured on A.C. Newman's second solo album, Get Guilty, released in 2009.
2010-2011: The Black Sea and Mondo Amore
In January 2010, Atkins and The Black Sea started recording new material at Brooklyn's Seaside Lounge studio with producer Phil Palazzolo, with whom Atkins had previously worked during sessions for Get Guilty in 2008. Several other musicians joined Atkins in the studio to record the tracks for what would become her second album, Mondo Amore, including guitarist Irina Yalkowsky, drummer Mike Graham, and bassist Jeremy Kay. Graham, Oklan, Yalkowsky and Kay would form the core lineup of The Black Sea with whom Atkins would tour in support of Mondo Amore. In June 2010, Atkins signed with New York-based independent label Razor & Tie. The label released Mondo Amore on February 8, 2011. The album received coverage from The New York Times, and Rolling Stone. The release party was held at The Music Hall of Williamsburg and announced in The New Yorker. In the month following the release Nicole Atkins and the Black Sea performed at South By Southwest and were reviewed by Spin Magazine  as "the best live band of the festival.".
2012-2014: Slow Phaser
In the winter of 2012, Nicole returned to Malmö, Sweden to record with Tore Johansson on her latest record, Slow Phaser. The album was released February 4, 2014 to rave reviews and a peak position of 143 on the Billboard 200. The album's first single, "Girl You Look Amazing" was premiered by Paste (magazine)  and the video for the album's second single, "Who Killed the Moonlight?", was premiered by NPR's First Watch. In February 2014, Nicole returned to Late Night with David Letterman to perform on his last season, a new rendition of her song "War Torn," off of her "Live from the Masonic Temple, Detroit" album, which was recorded while on tour as the opening act for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
2017-present: Goodnight Rhonda Lee
Goodnight Rhonda Lee is Nicole Atkins' fourth studio album, which was recorded at Single Lock Records in Florence, Alabama and was released on July 21, 2017. Goodnight Rhonda Lee was produced and engineered by Niles City Sound: production, engineering, drums, and percussion on all tracks by Josh Block; production, guitar on all tracks, and musical arrangements by Austin Jenkins; production and engineering by Chris Vivion. The first single off her record was "Goodnight Rhonda Lee" which is about her past behavior and finally putting it to rest. Her next single following "Goodnight Rhonda Lee" is "Listen Up." In "Listen Up" Atkins is very self-critical on how her life lessons were learned the hard way. She delivered her second single in a soulful/pop recording. Goodnight Rhonda Lee received an 83/100 score and 4 out of 5 stars.
In 2008, Atkins was cast as the voice of the mother in director Geoff Marslett's animated sci-fi comedy film Mars. On September 9 of that year, she released a four-track EP of cover songs called Nicole Atkins Digs Other People's Songs, which included the tracks: "The Crystal Ship" (The Doors), "Dream a Little Dream of Me" (The Mamas & the Papas), "Under the Milky Way" (The Church) and "Inside of Love" (Nada Surf). In 2009, Atkins' backing vocals were featured prominently on AC Newman's second solo album, Get Guilty.
Atkins also joined the 9th annual Independent Music Awards judging panel to assist independent musicians' careers.
When not on the road, she lives in Nashville, TN.
In August 2016 Nicole Atkins appeared on Showtime's Roadies where she performed "A Little Crazy."
In 2016 Cotton Mather released a three-song EP on Star Apple Kingdom titled Cotton Mather with Nicole Atkins featuring the songs "Girl Friday," "Faded," and "Call Me The Witch."
In July 2017 Nicole Atkins performed at the annual Newport Jazz Festival for the first time in Newport, Rhode Island.
In 2017 Nicole Atkins is a featured vocalist on Tracy Bonham's Modern Burdens track "Tell It To The Sky" which was released by Schoolkids Records.
Nicole Atkins produced and co-wrote "Too Late" and "Saturday" for Tommy Stinson's Bash & Pop which were released by Fat Possum Records.
Nicole Atkins co-wrote "Those Were The Days" with Old 97's from their album Graveyard Whistling which was released by ATO Records.
Nicole Atkins covered "Joey" by Concrete Blonde, which was released December 8, 2017 as part of the Shovels & Ropes duet album, Busted Jukebox: Volume 2.
- 2006: Bleeding Diamonds, EP (Columbia)
- 2007: Austin City Limits Music Festival 2007: Nicole Atkins & The Sea, EP (Sony BMG Music Entertainment)
- 2008: Nicole Atkins Digs Other People's Songs, EP (Columbia)
- 2011: ...Till Dawn, EP (Razor & Tie)
- 2014: A Nightmare Before Summer, EP
- 2007: Neptune City (Columbia)
- 2011: Mondo Amore (Razor & Tie)
- 2014: Slow Phaser (Oh'Mercy!)
- 2017: Goodnight Rhonda Lee (Single Lock)
- 2020: Italian Ice (Single Lock)
with Los Parasols
- 2002: The Summer of Love (EP)
with Hungry Ghost
- 2004: "Hungry Ghost"
(Atkins sang backup vocals on "Police State Xmas")
- 2008: Music From The Motion Picture Choke ATO Records
- 2008: The Hotel Café Presents Winter Songs Epic
(Atkins contributed a cover of the Billy Hayes and Jay Johnson penned "Blue Christmas")
- 2009: Scott Walker – 30 Century Man
- 2010: Dear New Orleans
- 2012: Tim Adams and Mike Viola's HAREM: Songs from the Movie "That's What She Said"
(Atkins contributed the track "All Wrong")
- 2013: College Radio Day: The Album, Vol. 2
(Atkins contributed the track "The Stranger")
- 2014: Dead Man's Town: A Tribute to Born In the U.S.A. Lightning Rod Records
Awards and nominations
- Asbury Music Awards Winner: Top Female Vocalist
- Asbury Music Awards Winner: Best Solo Act
- Asbury Music Awards Winner: Song of the Year – "Neptune City"
- ASCAP Foundation winner: Sammy Cahn Award – "Neptune City"
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- [dead link]
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- "Reviews for Slow Phaser by Nicole Atkins". Metacritic. Retrieved 2016-06-24.
- "Song Premiere: Nicole Atkins - "Girl You Look Amazing"". Pastemagazine.com. Retrieved 2016-06-24.
- Boilen, Bob. "Nicole Atkins, 'Who Killed the Moonlight?'". Npr.org. Retrieved 2016-06-24.
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- "MARS". Swervepictures.com. Archived from the original on 2013-02-03. Retrieved 2014-02-03.
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- "AC Newman". Acnewman.net. Retrieved 2014-02-03.
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- "Nicole Atkins – "Dancing In The Dark" (Bruce Springsteen Cover)". Stereogum. 2014-08-18. Retrieved 2016-06-24.
- "Hungry Ghost CD". Store.cdbaby.com. Retrieved 27 February 2020.