By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
Nikki Hill is no stranger to Bowling Green.
Since she and her husband, guitarist Matt Hill, first hit the road as a duo in 2012, they’ve stopped here twice. Once for a show at Grounds for Thought, just as they were pulling their band together and then in 2014 in prime time Friday on the Main Stage at the Black Swamp Arts Festival.
Unfortunately, the festival audience just got a taste of her sound, as she was upstaged by a storm.
What listeners missed was a sound that mixes soul with hard rock and taste of classic rhythm ‘n’ blues, all built on a gospel foundation.
Hill got her start as a child in North Carolina singing in church choir. “That’s about the best training you can get. It’s a great place to develop your voice,” she said before her 2014 festival performance. She also experimented with punk and even old-time music.
She didn’t intend to become a professional musician. She was working as a physical trainer. But her husband a professional musician heard something special in her voice, something they could share with a broader audience.
That’s exactly what they’ve endeavored to do since 2012.
Since her festival show, Hill has released her second recording “Heavy Heart, Hard Fists” in 2015. The recording is another stop on Hill’s evolution as a songwriter.
That’ll be on display when Hill closes out the festival on the Main Stage Sunday, Sept. 10, at 3:30 p.m. Cole Christensen who co-chairs the festival’s Performing Arts committee said they were happy to book her. ”We always like to end with a bang.”
BG Independent connected with Hill through email to get an update on what’s been shaking in her career since that rainy night in 2014.
Do you have any memories of your performance at the Black Swamp Arts Festal in 2014? What was your impression of the event?
All I really remember is the rain! Our set was cut super short, which was a bummer. Everyone was so kind and seemed excited to hear us. I’m hoping we’re luckier with the weather this time. We have played in Bowling Green before and I remember everyone being cool and the vibe being relaxed and very interested and enthusiastic about the bands that come through.
How has your music evolved over the past three years? Can you talk a bit about your process? What inspires your songs?
I’m hoping I’m becoming a better songwriter. I started to steer away on my second record of writing completely about love and hardships, so I’m just trying to continue to develop to write about different things. I try to write often, even if it’s not with a song in mind. Then I can revisit it and see how the words can turn into song. I’m inspired by my own life of course, and then just observing life around me, what’s going on in the moment, how it makes me feel, or how it makes other people feel.
Has your backup band changed much? Who will be with you on this show?
It has changed a bit! I really think everyone will enjoy this crew. They sound so, so good and push me to sound better.
Matt Hill on guitar, I just added a second guitarist, Laura Chavez, Nick Gaitan on bass, and Chris Reddan on the drums.
How much do you work? Any areas particularly good for you?
I work a lot! It really is great. I’m an independent artist with a small handpicked team, running my own label, and overseeing everything. But it’s so low key that we’re still a discovery band in so many places, even places we’ve played before. We do well overseas, Spain is probably my best area at the moment. There are venues spread across America where we get these really fun crowds that are always ready and really pumped for the show! I hope Bowling Green becomes one!