Today’s Feature – October 10-11: Nikki Shannon

October 21, 2008 at 2:31 am (Today's Feature)

Swinging by the Nikki Shannon MySpace page, you may immediately say, “My goodness. Look at that stomach! It’s completely sexy!” But much like her bio says, she is more than just another pretty face. A lot more. And it isn’t simply her soothing voice, her impressive piano skills or top notch songwriting that makes her great. It’s her charisma, her experience. This woman has known all her life that she needed to make a living through music. Her will was so strong, so set, that she even spent part of her time in New York City homeless, sleeping in backseats, on couches, even in “basements of piano bars where she performed.” She did this because deep down – she knew it was worth it. She kept playing, and the future got brighter.

When she writes a song, all of her stands behind it, and when she performs the tune, you’ll stand up for it – “Nikki has a chilled vibe that flows right into her music and her performances which she executes as easily as enjoying a glass of fine wine. “ You can enjoy her music from the comfort of your home as well – Shannon’s debut album, “Too Few,” not only spouts her raw emotions and thoughts, but those of her amazing band as well. Shannon says, “I know that no matter what, I love this album.  There’s no excuse or ‘but’ about it for me.”

You may have heard some of the tunes on your favorite television shows, such as “Six Degrees,” as well as on XM Satellite radio and on the NYC classic rock station Q104.3. Either way, get your hands on the record. It’s more than worth your time. Get into the XXQ’s for a whole lot more.

XXQs: Nikki Shannon

PEV: Growing up in Kingston, New York, what kind of music were you listening to? Do you remember the first concert you ever attended?

NS: Growing up in Kngston, being the youngest girl and always wanting to be more like my older sisters and brothers, I listened very closely as to what was cool and not cool.  Although my mom still pulled my pants up over my belly button… But my older siblings always had the best taste in music and shared it with us. To this day, if I’m not listening to myself its anyone from Joni Mitchell to Dyer Strait to the Rolling Stones and even Billy Squire.  My first concert was Billy Joel and Elton John at Giants Stadium. The only time I’m that quiet and standing still is when I’m absorbing and truly in musical awe… Or when I’m eating…

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a profession rather than just a hobby?

NS: I’ve always thought I’d be doing music professionally. In fact, I’ve had so many opportunities to have something to fall back on but purposely did not. I never for a second wanted to have any window to not give 150 percent. There was never a grey area for me. I think no matter what, music would have found me.  I think when it’s something you ARE and not just what you do, you can run but you can’t hide for long.

PEV: What were your first years in the music business like for you? When you were first starting out before the press, before the accolades? Did you ever think you’d be where you are now, then?

NS: My first years in the music business were a struggle. It’s still a struggle, but a different struggle.  Back then, I always knew I would be here.  There was never a question of if, just of when.

PEV: What can fans expect from your debut album, “Too Few”? As well, what kind of reaction did you first have when it was all said and done?

NS: Fans can expect of “Too Few” what they can expect from everything I give to them – no less than all I’ve got.

PEV: How is “Too Few” different than others out today? Why?

NS: I’m not sure exactly how “Too Few” is different, except that I know it’s raw, it’s real, and it’s from the heart; and not just from me but the band as well.  You can hear and feel what’s happening in that studio, like you’re in there with us.  And that’s all I can ask for.

PEV: How is “Too Few” different from your previous works or collaborations?

NS: “Too Few” is different because it projects me finding my “niche” and finally honing in on me as a woman, as an artist, and just being comfortable in my own skin. I know that no matter what, I love this
album.  There’s no excuse or “but” about it for me.

PEV: Songs from the album have recently been featured in an episode of “Six Degrees” on ABC, as well on XM Satellite radio and the NYC classic rock station Q104.3 (“Out of the Box” hosted by Jonathan Clarke.) What was it like the first time you heard one of your songs played on the radio and on TV?

NS: It’s great hearing myself on TV and radio. It’s a funny feeling because it goes from “HOLY #*it!” to being so proud of the work I did to get there, and it gives me the momentum I need to affirm why I continue when I get tired and feel beat up. The minute I’m on stage or with the guys in the studio, all that is erased and I go, “oh, this is why I do all I do”.

PEV: Is there a certain environment you surround yourself in when you sit down to write music? Or is it just a “when it happens, it happens” mentality?

NS: Surroundings… hmmm, everything! It happens differently every time: in the truck on the way to “the crib”, while I’m sleeping, in the shower, while someone else is talking, while on hold with Cablevision, whenever it hits. Luckily for me, when Nunz and I write, it just starts and doesn’t stop. I think the secret to writing with someone is to get to a place where you can be that naked, so you’re not thinking too much. You’re placing the words so that you can place a feeling.

PEV:  How have all your friends and family back home reacted to your success?

NS: My family and friends are psyched! They’re very supportive and
excited. They’re my biggest fans! My sister Angie and my mom lead the pack.

PEV: What is life on the road like for you? Best and worst parts? Was it a hard adjustment?

NS: I’m going on the road for my first time next month, so I’ll keep you posted on that.

PEV: Is there an “up and coming” artist or band right now that you think we should all be listening to?

NS: Definitely check out Greg Holdin out of England. He’s not only an amazing artist but an amazing human being. And the guys in my band – Nunzio Signore, Pete Williamson and Vinnie Tatanelli – are on Greg’s record, which Nunzio is producing, so you KNOW the production is good.  Is it bad to be so in love with your band?

PEV: Is there someone you have not had the chance to work or collaborate with, that you would like to?

NS: I would LOVE to collaborate and work with Sheryl Crow, Tina Turner, Robert Plant, and too many others.  I would be very happy with anyone who gets that “thang”.

PEV: When you are not traveling or performing, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

NS: In my spare time – which is not much – I like hanging at home.  I love to cook, water plants, go to Nunzio’s house and hang with him and his family doing yard work, drinking wine, laughing until we cry.  Sometimes I just cry! I LOVE to work out. I love to grocery shop! I swear my palms get sweaty when I see all that food calling me. So many options for flavor! And of course I love my music.  And if it’s late at night, I like to stop at Rhodes Tavern near home and close the joint two-stepping with my friend Patron.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?

NS: Wow! I don’t know. I think there’s a lot you’d be surprised with. Maybe that I get quiet sometimes and that I LOVE my quiet time and spending a day alone.

PEV: If we were to walk into your practice studio what would we most likely find?

NS: Instruments of course. Pictures that Nunzio’s daughter Maia draws for him are hung up all over the walls. You’d find a lot you’d rather not hear if you re eating right now! You’d also find bottles of water and wine and our lunch boxes.

PEV: What is a live Nikki Shannon performance like?

NS: A Nikki Shannon live show is something you can’t explain.  It’s an
experience. And I believe I have the best crowd EVER, new and old. It’s just an amazing night every time

PEV: In one word, describe Nikki Shannon.

NS: Pied piper.

PEV: So, what is next for Nikki Shannon?

NS: Music

For more information on Nikki Shannon, check out: http://www.myspace.com/nikkishannon

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