I’ve been listening to Nikka Costa since 2001, which is when she made her initial debut in the United States. By the time Nikka was 10 she had already recorded for Don Ho, had recorded a debut album with her father playing acoustic guitar that sold relatively well across Europe, and also sang at an event at the White House with Frank Sinatra. No big deal, right? Well, she wanted more, and the world was her target.
I remember listening to the funky song in the Tommy Hilfiger commercial and knowing that it was different and special. I remember the vibrant music video and the stunning woman with the arresting vocals. It was all very striking. Like a Feather, her debut single in the US, was a piece of funk that included a bass line and hand-clap feature that becomes imbedded in your brain.
The album, Everybody Got Their Something, released in 2001 wasn’t the commercial success Virgin Records wanted it to be, but it was a critical success that set the stage for a cult-like following for Nikka. Recently, I had the urge to listen to So Have I For You, which was featured in Crossroads, Britney Spears’ major motion picture vehicle, and I went into a social media dive and found that she was playing at the City Winery in Chicago. I bought some tickets and was on my merry way.
Nikka has an amazing voice. It’s insane that it emotes as well as it does, reaches the vocal heights that it does, and sounds as good as it does over 35+ years into the game.
Frankly, aside from Everybody Got Their Something and her sophomore US album Can’tNeverDidNothin’, I haven’t been too assertive about following her. Everybody Got Their Something did stay with me throughout life because I loved so many of the themes the album covered; and I was honestly a fan of the album’s and of Nikka. Seeing her was almost a full-circle moment, as the album had such weight on my youth, but still remains present in my life as an adult.
Nikka played such great songs, and even the ones I didn’t know were entertaining and catchy. Songs like Cry Baby, Keep Pushin, Pro-Whoa were immediate and memorable. She writes good songs and the production is on point to her funk/soul style.
As I said, it was a full-circle moment for me, being that I’ve been listening to Nikka since 01’ and that was a full 17 years ago. What I love most is 17 years in, both Nikka and songs from her American debut still sounds right in place within this modern landscape of walls of computerized sounds… if not, it still sounds better.