You could say Nicki White was destined for music before she’d
seen the light of day.
Her parents were musical: Her mom played the flute into
college; her dad started playing guitar in his teens. Her mom’s
dad played accordion. Music was prominent in her family long
before she was born: “My dad wanted to name me Presley
because of his Elvis obsession.”
Instead of naming her after The King, they shared with their
daughter their favorite music, including the sounds of The
Beatles, Vince Gill, Shania Twain. And Prince.
By the time she was in elementary school, Nicki was listening
to her own favorite pop heroes: N*Sync, The Backstreet Boys,
Brandy, Christina Aguilera.
When she was 12, she persuaded her mother to let her give up
the flute and take guitar lessons. Her guitar teacher, Cindy
Egger, started Nicki on her current course, coaxing her to get
on stage and perform in front of strangers. She was 15.
“Cindy would have student recitals in the basement of The
Toon Shop in Prairie Village. I stared at a coat rack the whole
time while playing one or two songs. My mom even played
flute with me on a Colbie Caillat song during one of those
That would lead to more open-mics, including one at Jerry’s
Bait Shop in Lee’s Summit when Nicki was 17. Egger
accompanied her on bass during a cover of Wanda Jackson’s
“Mean Mean Man.”
“I got a standing ovation from three people,” she said. “I was
Her resume includes several years of vocal lessons plus a year
at the Unversity of North Alabama, where she aspired to study
the business part of music: “I wasn’t focused enough and had to
move back home my second year in.”
Nearly 10 years after that first standing ovation, music is her
sole focus. Nicki is a bona fide singer-songwriter, composing
and performing songs inspired by a wide variety of
Her favorites cover a wide gamut of genres and styles: Bonnie
Raitt, Bobbie Gentry, Grace Potter, India Arie, Kacey
Musgraves, John Prine, Amy Winehouse, Charles Bradley and
Kansas City’s own Danielle Nicole. And Prince.
People have told her she sounds like everyone from Norah
Jones and Sheryl Crow to ZZ Ward and Bonnie Raitt. There is
some Miranda Lambert in there, too.
“I sum (my sound) up to the blues because that’s the base of it
all. I have some jazzy, easy listening, funky, R&B and even some
Those deep blues roots can be heard in songs like “Praises and
Curses.” But there’s often plenty of soul in her sound, as well.
You can hear that in “One Quick Fix.” Both songs were recorded
live at the Gospel Lounge at Knuckleheads and are available on
Or check out “The Good Side of You,” the seven-track EP
(available on iTunes) she recorded in Muscle Shoals, Ala., that
showcases the diversity in her songwriting. It’s the composite
of many inspirations and influences that Nicki has distilled into
a sound that is her own.