We all fell in love with Nicole Nelson when she was part of Team Adam in season 3 of NBC’s The Voice, but as with all the artists on that series, that’s just one part of her story. Nicole and her partner Dwight Ritcher just released their album Shine On last week, and she was kind enough to sit down with BFTV to discuss the record and how the Dwight & Nicole sound compares to what we heard on The Voice.
“I don’t think there’s any difference at all,” she told us. “I don’t know how to be anything other than myself, one hundred percent. My aim is always to be myself and always a better version of myself. I’ve grown from what I’ve learned from the show, and from meeting and meshing with so many incredible people.”
Nicole turned all four coaches’ chairs during her blind audition with her cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” which is also one of the tracks that appears on Shine On. We asked her if including the song that introduced her to American TV audiences was a coincidence or on purpose. “It was a conscious decision. I always wanted to record that song and I would have either way,” she explained. “For me, singing a 60 second version on the show to a pre-recorded track, it was a great opportunity. The song actually became a hit on iTunes.
“But I just sort of felt that song, it needs to be alive and be breathing and I wanted to record it with my group. We just did it live, we did two takes and just took our favorite version, which was the second take. There’s a magic in the live thing that’s different from singing to a track that somebody recorded a week earlier. It can breathe and it has our own stamp on it. I was able to relax and let the feeling. It had that energy to it and that’s what we want it.”
You can actually hear the difference in Dwight & Nicole’s version of “Hallelujah,” which we’ve included below so you can check it out for yourself.
So what about the rest of the record? What can those audiences, who may not have looked past the TV show, expect from hearing Dwight & Nicole? “What I love about the album is that it touches on multiple layers of feeling and expression,” Nicole said. “What I feel like has happened in popular music is that things get boiled down and fine-tuned in order to sell them easily to a market. Which makes sense as a business. But what I miss about old records that I love is that they dive deeper than that and tell a 360 degree story. All of these inflections of personality come through.”
The duo is now playing several live shows on the East Coast in support of the record (all of which you can find information about on their website), and Nicole told us she’s looking forward to more. “Absolutely look for touring,” she said. “We’re talking with a few different booking agencies.”
Is there anyone she’d love to share the stage with? “Bonnie Raitt has always been a dream of mine. That’s something I would love to do.”
Of course, appearing on The Voice has raised her profile. “It absolutely still resonates,” Nicole told us. “I think one of the reasons why is because it was actually just over a year ago since they started doubling up seasons. It was like a year and a half ago that I was on the show.”
But that’s just one component to Nicole Nelson as an artist, and to the Dwight & Nicole story. They’ve shared the stage with the likes of Dr. Maya Angelou, B.B. King, Norah Jones, and The Avett Brothers. They’ve played Fenway Park and Symphony Hall. Like many artists who’ve appeared on The Voice, they had many things to be proud of before reality TV became part of their lives, and now with Shine On, they have plenty to be proud of after. For Nicole’s part, she has absolutely no regrets.
“The path that I’ve been on is exactly the right one for me,” Nicole reflected. “[The Voice] was an absolute perfect experience. And when it was time to go home, I left graciously. And I’m making music with the man that I love. I’m just so lucky.”
Shine On is available now on iTunes; for more on Dwight & Nicole, be sure to visit their website (dwightandnicole.com) and follow them on Twitter (@dwightandnicole). You can also follow Nicole herself on Twitter (@nicolenelsong).