Born in Newcastle, Australia, Nicki started her musical training at age four with the piano, followed by the flute, soon after. Nicki switched to double bass at the age of 15.
After graduating high school she moved to Sydney to study jazz at the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music where she began to play with Australian musicians such as Mike Nock, Dale Barlow, Paul Grabowsky, Bernie McGann, and Ten Part Invention. She also toured Australia with Russian musicians Daniel Kramer and Alexander Fischer and American trumpeters Bobby Shew and Chuck Findley. She continued her studies with various bassists including visiting artists Ray Brown and John Clayton.
Nicki was the recipient of two awards, a scholarship to Pan Pacific Music Camps at the age of 16, and first place in the 1992 Jazz Action Society’s Annual Song Competition for her composition “Come and Get It,” which is the opening track of Nicki and her sister Lisa’s debut CD, “Awabakal Suite”. She was also nominated for the annual Australian Young Achievers Award by the Arts Council of Australia who granted her the funds to come to New York to study with Rufus Reid. Nicki came to New York in May 1994.
In June 2000, Nicki began performing on Monday nights at the Iridium Jazz Club with the legendary guitarist and inventor, Les Paul. As part of the Les Paul Trio, Nicki worked side-by-side with guitar greats from Paul McCartney, Slash, Steve Miller to fellow Aussie, Tommy Emmanuel.
Since then she has performed with such notable musicians as Michel Legrand, Joe Wilder, Randy Brecker, Clark Terry, Jose Feliciano, Bucky Pizzarelli, John Pizzarelli, Dick Hyman, Patti Labelle & the New York Pops Orchestra, Harry Allen, Marlena Shaw, David Krakauer, Ken Peplowski, Ann Hampton Callaway, Bill Mays, Scott Hamilton, Lillian Boutte, Larry Carlton and Houston Person, just to name a few.
Nicki has also performed in several Broadway shows such as Avenue Q, Imaginary Friends, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Summer of ’42 and Jekyll and Hyde and has made several television and documentary appearances including The Gossip Girls, Chasing Sound and Thank You Les, which recently debuted on PBS.
In 2007 and 2008, Nicki received back to back honors for Swing Journal’s Best Jazz Vocal Album (Moon River and Fly Me to The Moon, respectively).
In 2010 her album Black Coffee (Venus) received Swing Journal’s Gold Disc award.
In 2012, Nicki headlined the Fujitsu Concorde Jazz festival after the release of her eighth CD from Venus Records, Sakura Sakura. She is currently recording her 16th release for the label.
Nicki has performed at most major festivals around the globe including the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, Jazz in July at the 92nd Street Y, Litchfield Jazz Festival, Detroit Jazz Festival, the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival and the Newport Beach Jazz Party, Jazz Ascona and Bern Jazz Festival in Switzerland and many others.
“...A rarity, a first-class bassist whose playing is as sublime as her vocals.” - LIMELIGHT 2012
Nicki actively participates in continuing musical education for women, helping them further their careers and remain active in music well beyond their teen years. She takes pride in teaching music to inner-city children, giving them opportunities to express creativity, encouraging them to stay actively involved with school, and opening up brighter options for the future. Nicki involvement has included programs such as: Women in Jazz, New York Pops: Create A Symphony and Musical Mentors, WBGO-FM & NJPAC’s Jazz for Teens and Litchfield Jazz Camp.
Nicki welcomes the opportunity to provide mentoring skills for your advanced music students. Please contact us to discuss how she might help enrich your program