We chat to Nikki Nicholls about ‘You’ve Got A Friend – The Songs and Story of Carole King’
There are few, if any, artists in the history of music that can compare to the great Carole King. She is, without a doubt, one of the most prolific songwriters of our time and, as the name suggests, she is considered music ‘royalty’ among peers and fans alike. Her songs have endured through generations; not only those she wrote and performed herself but the many songs that have been recorded by other people including her dear friend James Taylor who first gave the singer/songwriter/musician the chance to step into the limelight and the rest, as they say, is history.
Melbourne singer Nikki Nicholls presents the ‘Songs and Story of Carole King’: with A Touch of James Taylor this Friday 3rd March at The Palms at Crown in Melbourne. I caught up with Nikki to find out more about the show and what audiences can expect from ‘You’ve Got a Friend’.
As Nikki explains, “It’s called ‘You’ve Got a Friend’ and it’s about the songs and story of Carole King with a touch of James Taylor. I’ll be doing a lot of Carole’s stuff that she not only wrote for herself but for other artists and Steve Wade, who is part of the band, will be singing the James Taylor songs. It’s a tribute to both in a way because they were great friends for many years and he was responsible for bringing Carole out from behind the keys to become a performer in her own right and they’ve worked together many times since then and remained great friends so it’s going to be a great show.”
Nikki will be working with an impressive ensemble of musicians. Kings Rule comprises members Adrian Scott (Air Supply & Kylie Minogue) on keys; on guitar, Eric McCusker (Mondo Rock) and Steve Wade (Little River Band), bass player Rick Petropoulos (The Ferrets and Motivators), Fallon Williams III (Steve Marriott’s Humble Pie) on drums and, in the brass section, Steve Allan on trumpet and Andy O’Connell on sax.
“As mentioned before, Steve Wade will be singing lead vocals on the James Taylor songs as well,” Nikki explains. “The harmonies are gorgeous. It’s a great show. There’s a bit of audience participation and it’s funny but there are a few little tear jerkers in there as well so it’s got everything.”
While she points out that the songs are not performed in chronological order, Nikki will tell the stories behind the songs as she presents them to give the audience an overall picture of King’s musical career and highlights so it is not just a performance of Carole King’s greatest hits but the stories of Carole King as well.
Nikki tells me that she started doing a show called ‘Tapestry’ about twelve years ago. At the time, she was working with Debra Byrne and Wendy Stapleton on a show called ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’. “I did that show for ten years with the girls. We had a bit of a break at some point and that’s when I started doing ‘Tapestry’”, she explains. Since then, however, she says she has been ‘side-tracked’ with other projects along the way until, about a year ago, she decided to revive the show. “But making it bigger and better because it was a three or four-piece band and this time I’m making it bigger and adding the James Taylor part in as well just to give it that extra bit of flavour and more incredible music.”
The music industry has been a big part of Nikki’s life since she was very young. “I started as a child on a weekly television program and I sang all the way through school. I’ve been singing all my life but I think the biggest break I got was when John Farnham’s management asked me to join the original John Farnham Band. I did about four years with John, did the Whispering Jack album; worked with Aussie Crawl, Lulu, Suzi Quatro; toured the world with Kylie Minogue; sang with Stevie Wonder and I have another band, Jam the Funk.”
And, while Nikki loves her work, she is the first to admit that it hasn’t always been easy. “It’s been a tough business,” she concedes, explaining that the music scene has changed a lot for working musicians over the last few decades and feels that they have become rather undervalued. “The 80s were fantastic but it’s a very tough business these days. We spend years perfecting our craft, the same as any tradesman would do, going to school to learn their trade for about four or five years or whatever and then they are paid accordingly but we aren’t. (They) think that we’re all just having a great time and well we are but, at the same time, we’ve spent a lot of time on trying to perfect our craft over the years too.”
The singer hopes to eventually take the show on the road, bringing ‘You’ve Got a Friend – The Songs and Story of Carole King’: with A Touch of James Taylor to theatres and casinos around the country but, for now, there is one show only at The Palms at Crown on Friday 3rd March so don’t miss out on what will be a very special evening of music. Tickets are available now through Ticketmaster. Click here for your special PROMO deal.
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2017. All rights reserved
‘You’ve Got a Friend – The Songs and Story of Carole King
The Palms At Crown
Friday 3 March 2017
Time : 7.30pm