In this installment of the musician showcase we speak Nikki Holland. She is the lead sing of Nikki Holland & The Dirty Elizabeths a band that performs Detroit-rooted Americana music with a Twist of Lime!
Q How did you get your start in performing?
I started performing when encouraged to attend an open mic in downtown Hampton, Virginia. After moving to Michigan several years later, I released my first album and formed a band in Detroit, MI.
Q What do you value more, creativity, or perfect execution?
I value creativity over perfect execution. I encourage my band members to use their style and interpretation within the bounds of what is true to our vibe. Some things need to be executed correctly for the song to go well, but creativity leads to fun…and when you’re having fun playing, it’s more fun for the audience to watch.
Q During your live sets you do a mix of original material and covers, how do you pick the songs you are going to cover?
We choose our cover songs based on the show setting, expected audience, and set duration. Some covers are overall favorites, both for us and for our audience. We introduce new covers to keep the audience on their toes and love to change up songs rhythmically and with mashups in our signature way.
Q Your music seems to be an eclectic mix of southern folk with some Bob Marley thrown in, who are the artists that inspires the band when you are making new music?
Our music has progressed from a more Southern folk flavor to a reggae-sprinkled beach style. We have spent years discovering what feels best to play, and though we don’t consider ourselves a reggae band, we are showing our affection for the genre these days. The artists that have inspired us and our growth are Tracy Chapman, Bob Marley, Conkarah, Melissa Etheridge, Dispatch, Bebes and Her Moneymakers, G Love and Special Sauce, and Marillion.
Q I saw that the band has a motto “Until We Are Equal, Be Greater Than”, has social causes always been a central part of the band’s makeup?
Two things are central to our band: our people and our people. We are having a great time making music. We want to convey love, positivity, and acceptance, as we hope we’ve done in our latest single, “Beautiful” (a Bandcamp exclusive for 1 year so we can donate proceeds to charity). We want to lighten people’s (and animals’) burdens through charity and activism and let people know that we support and believe in them. Our band cherishes its audience; we want people to feel uplifted and unburdened when they attend our shows. Our audience 100% gives these feelings back to us. We want our fans to know we see them and are allies in recognizing their plights for equality and understanding. You are Dirty Elizabeths too, and we see and appreciate you. We will write about it and sing it to the world because your story is important and relevant.
Q What is the next project you are working on?
Our next project is our song, “Greater”, which is nearing completion. This song is a nod to our motto, “Until We Are Equal, Be Greater Than.” It’s about people who uplift and inspire us. You know people like this, and for me, the greatest inspiration is my wife, Kimmy.
Q} if people want more info about you or your music where should they go?
If people want to know more about our music, they should attend a show. We tell quips from behind the music there and following us on social media helps close the loop, too.
Final four questions –we ask everybody
Q) When the zombies take over the world where will you be?
When zombies take over the world, I’ll be herding cats to safety.
Q ) What is your favorite Fandom
My favorite Fandom is Labrynth (David Bowie style).
Q) What piece of art, be it in the form of music, a book, a film or picture, do you think people must experience before they die?
The art to experience before you die is your own. I think you find what is in you. Recognize it and experience it and share it at least eight times.
Q) Give one fact that most people would not believe you?
One fact people wouldn’t believe. I suck at singing Happy Birthday (but I do it anyway).