Artist Details

Nikki Williams


There’s  a  kind  of  woman  who  just  needs  you  to  get  the  hell  out  of  her  way.  You’ll  know  her  when  you   see her, smoldering with swagger and sex appeal. Holding her back would be like lassoing a supernova— good luck with that. Spend  even  a  few  moments  with  Nikki  Williams  and  you  know  that’s  exactly  what  you’re  dealing  with:   an unapologetic, balls-out truth-teller, an old soul at 24 with a killer set of pipes and the attitude to match. A natural born storyteller and a gifted singer-songwriter, Williams is the personification of Newtonian law:  a  body  in  motion  will  stay  in  motion.  “I  was  born  to  do  this,”  she  says.  “There  is  no  Plan  B.  This  is   it.  You  don’t  ignore  an  instinct.”

Williams’  earliest  memories  as  a  young  girl  in  bustling Port Elizabeth, South Africa, feature her performing—belting it out in church at four years old, providing the evening entertainment for her parents and their friends at age 7. But hers was hardly a picture-perfect youth. When post-apartheid crime ravaged her  hometown,  Williams’  parents  decided  to  pack  it  in  and  start  anew  elsewhere,  in  Nashville  of  all   places.  (“My  family  grew  up  listening  to  country  music,  so  why  not?”)  At  16,  Williams  found  herself   over 8,000 from home, a flame-haired Afrikaner in the land of the Grand Ole Opry. The transition was as tough  as  it  sounds.  “It  took  me  a  long  time  to  adjust,”  she  recalls.  “Everything  from  the  size  of  the  fast   food  portions  to  the  fact  that  people  didn’t  understand  what  I  was  saying.  I  always  had  to  repeat myself 10 times.”

Not long after the move, her parents divorced—she and her kid sister stayed with her mom in Nashville, while her dad returned to South Africa. Williams took their split hard. Who can blame her for falling in with  the  wrong  crowd?  “I  didn’t  see  their  divorce  coming,”  she  says.  “I  started  rebelling,  hanging  out  with   an  older  crowd,  drinking  Southern  Comfort,  going  out  to  bars.”

In a city thick with teased-and-tousled glam-girls, Williams, a Ravenwood High School hellraiser, looked like she’d  arrived  to  Nashville  by  way  of  CBGB  with  her  heavy  eyeliner,  ripped  tights  and  combat  boots.   But  she  found  respite  from  her  turbulent  youth  in  writing.  Every  day  after  school,  she’d  deep-dive into marathon country songwriting sessions and quickly discovered she was brilliant at it. Influenced by a gamut of old-school and contemporary country-Western icons, from Alan Jackson to the Rascal Flatts, Dolly Parton to Taylor Swift, Williams poured her restlessness and soul-searching into her lyrics.

By her junior  year  in  high  school,  she’d  locked  up  a  publishing  deal  with  Sony  ATV.  By  18,  Williams   was  supporting  herself.  Her  song  “Fly  Away”,  which  was  featured  in  Country  Song  (starring  Gwyneth   Paltrow), was inspired by an older boyfriend who helped foster her career and confidence. She co-wrote “Like  My  Mother  Does,”  which  was  performed  in  2011  by  American  Idol  finalist  Laura  Alaina. Over and over again Williams was approached by Nashville heavyweights eager to cut a deal. She rebuffed  them  all.  “I  never  wanted  to  be  a  country  artist,”  she  says  plainly.

Williams relocated to Los Angeles when she was 21, and shortly after signed with Breyon Prescott of Chameleon Entertainment (a joint venture with the Island Def Jam Music Group). “Working  with  Breyon   Prescott  along  with  Aaron  Phillips  is  literally  the  best  thing  that’s  ever  happened  to  me,”  Williams  says.   Under their guidance, she has emerged as a sultry new voice on the pop-rock scene. She has already notched collaborations with a string of Grammy-winning hitmakers including Sandy Vee, Dallas Austin, and Rodney Jerkins.

In the spring of 2011, Williams made headlines not for her music, but her blink-and-you’ll-miss-it marriage to musician Weston Cage (son of actor Nicolas Cage). The union lasted all of 10 months and was marred by allegations of domestic and alcohol abuse. Despite their brief, tempestuous marriage, Williams  insists  the  pair  are  still  close.  “I  love  him  to  death.  I  thought  he  was  my  prince,  but  I  just  wasn’t   ready for  marriage.”

In the months following her divorce, Williams threw herself into her work, exorcising her pain and sadness in the recording studio. The results are achingly beautiful. She  first  released  “Kill,  Fuck,  Marry,”   a haunting single by Sia and produced by Stargate, which has already captured the attention of critics and fans  alike.  (“Nikki  poised  to  be  a  breakout  star,”  declared  Cosmopolitan  Magazine.)   Her as-yet-untitled album, slated for release this spring, is already generating buzz among critics and music bloggers as one of the mostly hotly anticipated new releases of the year. “Glowing”, her first single, is a chest-thumping dance floor anthem that showcases the many sides and powerful vocals of Nikki Williams!

Williams is currently on the road, sampling her music before a voracious crowd hungry for her trademark candor  and  explosive  stage  presence.  She’ll  be  hard  to  pin  down  for  a  while,  she  says,  but  that’s  a  good   thing.  “I’m  still  working  stuff  out,”  Williams  confesses.  “But  if  you  want  to  find  me,  I’ll  be  in  the  diviest   bar  of  whichever  city  I’m  in.”