Like many high school seniors right now, 17-year-old Nicole Michelle is spending her time at home, working on school work. Unlike her peers, though, she is also busy maintaining her music career. An aspiring singer since the age of 11, the pop sensation and actress has spent the last year and a half working with Kay-Gee and Vin-Rock from Naughty by Nature. She is also signed to their label, Illtown Sluggaz. They have begun releasing singles “piece by piece”, and two – “Phenomenon” and “Whatever I Want” – are out right now and available on all streaming platforms.
The talented teen, who hails from New Hampshire, did not come from a musical family but says her career path instead “was laid out basically by an instinctual love for music.” She got her start at 11 years old, when she decided to audition to sing the National Anthem at Gillette stadium for a New England Revolution Soccer game. She won that competition and a few more that allowed her to sing at the biggest sports games around Boston. “From there, I met my manager (who I’ve been working with for 5 years now), and I started recording music and performing on huge stages such as the Xfinity Center, Foxwoods, and TD Garden with some of the biggest artists in music right now,” she says. Among those she’s opened for are the New Kids On The Block’s Mixtape Tour, Bebe Rexha, The Chainsmokers, Dua Lipa, and The Backstreet Boys.
She has also opened for Alessia Cara, whom she lists as one of her musical influences, along with SZA, Kehlani, and Kiana Lede. Nicole has also been compared to Demi Lovato, another influence, because of her wide vocal range and her ability to sing a variety of musical genres. When asked to describe her sound, she says, “I personally listen to mostly modern R&B artists like Kiana Lede, Summer Walker, SZA, and Kehlani, but I would say my sound has a little bit more of pop in it.”
That mixture of R&B and pop manifests in her recent singles, which released in April and May of this year. Her most recent song, “Phenomenon” just came out May 18, and she is working toward an EP that she hopes will be ready for release this summer. And she certainly won’t shy away from putting in the work to make that happen. Aside from her standout powerful voice and vocal control, she says, “something very different about me, especially at my young age, is my work ethic and my determination to get projects done and done right. I’m not someone who will complain if I need to be on a music video set or in the studio for 15 hours at a time.”
That determination has helped her amass a wide range of career highlights, of which she says the biggest so far has been walking the red carpet at the 2019 MTV VMAs alongside Naughty by Nature. “It felt surreal to go from watching the event on TV for years to actually being there in person with some of my favorite people in the music industry,” she says. She has also recorded several tracks, including the theme song for the 2018 film, Bernie the Dolphin, and she made her acting debut in the 2019 sequel, Bernie The Dolphin 2, for which she also recorded two songs. And her single, “Whatever I Want” was featured in a commercial and ad campaign for Dune Jewelry.
This collaboration, which goes beyond music, she is particularly excited about. “I’ve been working with the Dune team to come up with a few core designs that speak to my love of nature and the outdoors,” she says. “The Nicole Michelle Collection currently consists of a butterfly, dragonfly, and an insignia necklace, and we are working on adding on a capsule collection that will launch in a couple of months.” Visit https://dunejewelry.com/handmade-beach-jewelry/nicole-michelle-jewelry for more!
Aside from working, Nicole has been spending a lot of time at home these days, waiting for quarantine restrictions to lift. Doing her part to stay home and practice social distancing, she’s been releasing new music “to entertain people and maybe help with the insanity of quarantine and boredom!” She has been spending a lot of time with her family and her three cats and has been rollerblading and soaking up the sun. Though this is a tough situation, especially for high school seniors, Nicole tries to focus on the positives. “For one, I’m not stuck in a classroom the entire spring, so I can enjoy fresh air and sunlight while I do my school work,” she says. She also keeps up with other artists’ new releases, which she says “has made the quarantine a little more sane for me!”
While she waits it out, she looks forward to getting back to work. “This year I would love to release my entire EP with Illtown Sluggaz and make music videos for most of the songs,” she says. “I’d also love to do more live shows before 2021, but that all depends on the state of COVID-19.” And she would be “absolutely overwhelmed” if she had the chance to collaborate with SZA, Kehlani, 6lack, Bryson Tiller, Giveon, and PARTYNEXTDOOR.
As for her long-term goals, she says, “I honestly just want to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I love recording, performing, writing, and meeting new people! So as long as I’m still doing that, I’ll be very happy!” Staying connected to her friends and fans on Instagram is also important to her, and she adds, “Anyone that follows me will be the first to hear anything new I have coming out!”