As the prodigious East Brunswick teen prepares to open for a top selling songwriter next month, Nicole can trace her path through the music industry right to her humble beginnings in the township when her fan club consisted of mostly family members. Soon thereafter, however, her support grew as Nicole found herself in a local band playing at Jersey music cornerstones like the Stone Pony in Asbury Park.
"I've kind of been singing all my life. I never really had that one sure moment when I heard a song and decided to become a singer, I was just always putting on shows for my family," Nicole said. "When I was 13 I joined a teen rock band and we did a few shows playing some cool venues. We won some battle of the band competitions and released an EP."
After her band went their separate ways, Nicole decided to eschew the group dynamic and taught herself how to play the guitar as she began to experiment with songwriting as a solo artist at the age of 14-years-old.
"I love playing by myself because it's a more intimate feeling where you get more one on one with the audience," she said. "With a single instrument it's a crisper sound. Playing with a band you have that live sound that can't be replaced and it's more energetic, but I love the acoustic sound. I do miss having a band sometimes and at some point I'd love to have a band backing me."
Since branching out on her own, Nicole has taken part in contests, festivals, benefits and performances throughout the area, including shows with Glen Burtnik (a musician who played with the band Styx) and three-time Grammy nominee Brenda K. Starr. In June 2011, Nicole won the Freehold Idol competition while she was just 15-years-old.
"I definitely took advantage of the different opportunities in East Brunswick, like the East Brunswick High School talent competitions and the different music clubs," she said. "Unfortunately, there aren't many venues in East Brunswick for singing and no open mic nights or anyplace I can play, so I had to branch out and in doing so found some cool venues all over New Jersey."
Despite playing far from East Brunswick as a teenager, Nicole still found that hometown support following her on the road.
"It's been really cool to have people from East Brunswick hear of me playing and driving down to the show," she said. "When I'm not in East Brunswick, I still have people coming from there to see me in other cities."
Now in her first few weeks as a freshman at Rowan University, Nicole is working to balance schoolwork while keeping her fledgling music career chugging along.
"It's definitely going to be a challenge with the work, but it's well worth it to me," she noted. "Being in college is a great opportunity to practice and jam. I met a huge group of musicians already. In high school, it was hard because a lot of people didn't understand my passion for music, but here there are groups of people who share the same interest and do the same things that I do, and I get to share it with them."
As she balances playing music with the challenge of starting college, Nicole will find herself playing a huge show for a great cause next month. She will serve as the opening act for singer Ed Roland of the platinum selling rock band Collective Soul at the Trinity UMC Church in Ewing on Oct. 14 as part of the Candlelight Concert for Epilepsy Awareness series.
As the opening act for a singer who has penned seven number one radio singles, Nicole said the show is personal for her, as the series was started by her friend Eric Miller as a tribute to his late wife Caroline, who died at the age of 25-years-old from sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP).
"I'm very excited about the show and it's a huge opportunity for me. My friend Eric Miller created this organization in honor of his wife and I became great friends with him the last few years," she said. "This is the biggest name he ever had me open for. So I'm not only excited about opening up for a big name, but it's also great to do something nice for a cause I believe in."
The Candlelight Concert for Epilepsy Awareness featuring Sofia Nicole and Ed Roland will be held on Oct. 14 at the held at the 300-seat Trinity United Methodist Church at 1985 Pennington Road in Ewing. Tickets for the show are $20 in advance (via candlelightconcert.org) and $25 at the door.
Nicole will also return to the church as part of the series for a holiday show on Dec. 7 along with artists Chris Trapper, Catie Curtis and Jann Klose.For more information on Sofia Nicole visit her web site by clicking here, her Facebook page by clicking here, or her Youtube channel by clicking here.