Erica Nicole ’04 didn’t do much singing during her two-and-a-half years as a WCU student, but she’s been making up for lost time since then. Nicole grew up just outside Atlanta and spent her summers in Sapphire Valley. With aspirations of becoming a country music star, she began working on her first CD while she was still in high school, but she put that project on hold while she was a student in Cullowhee.
Nicole put herself on the college degree fast track beginning fall semester of 2002, taking 21 to 23 credit hours of classes each semester and going to summer school.“I pushed through because I wanted to get into music, but I had promised my parents I would get an education first,” she said. “I loved the campus and being in Cullowhee, but there was no time for anything except academic work.”
After leaving WCU with her bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship in December 2004, Nicole worked at her parents’ insurance agency for two years as she continued to lay the groundwork for her music career by finishing the CD she had started in high school. She moved to Los Angeles in August 2006 to earn a living and continue her dream of making a career in country music. She now works with renowned vocal coach Nate Lam, who has been involved in the careers of Rod Stewart, Dolly Parton and many other big names in entertainment, and her manager is Michael Lloyd, musical director of the movie “Dirty Dancing.”
Nicole’s demo CD, “Erica Nicole,” was released last July, and the album’s first single, “Somebody Like Me,” was No. 1 for 19 straight weeks on the Clear Channel radio network’s “On Demand New Music.” The song also made the soundtracks of two feature films, “Too Late to Say Goodbye” and “Small Town Saturday Night.” Last fall, Nicole went on a radio station-visiting marathon to promote her music, hitting 125 stations in 20 states between August and December. On the performance side, she has opened an Eric Church-Miranda Lambert concert in Kentucky, and she sang the national anthem for the Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta.
In late spring, Nicole was preparing for a show at Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles, performances at the Country Music Association Festival in Nashville, a concert tour that will take her to four Northeastern states and the release of her second single, “Shave.”
“When I left WCU with my degree, I wondered what I would do with it,” she said. “Turns out, my music career has everything to do with it. My degree has been unbelievably helpful. If you are a country singer, you literally do run your own business. You have to know how to market your music and keep track of your finances. There’s a lot involved in it.”
For more information about Erica Nicole, check out ericanicolemusic.com.