Nikki & Rich
Releasing their debut album in 2010, Nikki & Rich are Nikki Leonti, a California-born pastor's daughter who grew up singing in church, and Rich Velonskis, a Queens, NY-born former DJ and established hip-hop/R&B producer who got his start spinning in New York City clubs as a teenager. These two seemingly opposite characters first met in 2007. Nikki was based in Nashville working as a background singer for Carrie Underwood and Rich was in Los Angeles producing tracks for Eve, Robin Thicke, Mario, and a Grammy-winning track for Ludacris under his moniker Rich Skillz. Rich was looking for a strong vocalist and lyricist to collaborate with and take his tracks to the next level and he found the perfect match in Nikki. The two began working together in December 2008, writing and recording up in Rich's Hollywood Hills home studio.
"We didn't want to make a tribute record to past artists and have it sound like something that came out 40 years ago," Rich says. "We wanted to take the spirit and greatness of those times and bring them into the present day, and I think the way it's produced and the style of our writing bear that out."