The first time Autumn Nicholas performed in front of people was when her dad, who was in the military, coerced her in front of a crowd. “My dad put me on a stage when I was 15 years old on this military truck and said, ‘Sing those three songs that you wrote.’ And he hands me my guitar and I was like, ‘Oh my god this is gonna be horrible,’” she tells us. “And it wasn’t. It took me to that level of this is what I want to do.”
Nicholas grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina near a military base. Music was a prominent factor in her life and her parents gave her a taste of numerous genres. “My mom and dad were very diverse in the music. I wasn’t allowed to listen to just one genre,” she explains. “My dad was from Trinidad and Tobago and my mom was from Wisconsin so two totally different parts of the world kind of mixing together.” Her mom played her pop divas such as Madonna and Whitney Houston while her dad played reggae and calypso music. She vividly remembers listening to the various cassette tapes that her mom owned.
When she was in her teens, she was thinking of what she wanted to do with her future.“To be honest with you, I told my mom when I was younger, ‘I’m never gonna be able to sing my own songs on stage,’” she says. “I never really thought of songwriting as an opportunity. I wanted to be a journalist when I first thought of going to school. Which is close to telling stories so it’s what I wanted.” After performing in front of people one time, her path was dead set on becoming a singer-songwriter and telling stories people could connect and relate to. She now resides in Nashville and performs live at writer’s rounds including shows with Song Suffragettes.
Her 2020 EP, Shades of Beige was released amidst the pandemic and when putting it out, she questioned the timing, not knowing if she should put music out during such a tumultuous time. “There was a big gap between who I was as an artist to who I am now and we kind of wanted to fill that gap so you could see the progression of growth,” she states. “I wanted it to be a neutral story so that everyone could relate. That’s why beige is the color I chose. We are all a shade of beige in some form.” The six-song EP acted as a catalyst to bring her to the next level as an artist.
On the EP is a song titled “Side by Side:” a track about the Black Lives Matter movement and unity. Nicholas is no stranger to writing about heated topics and often taps into a vulnerable side of life when writing. One of her singles of 2021, “On A Sunday” was about feeling outcasted in a church. “Being that vulnerable almost felt like a responsibility,” Nicholas tells us. “If I didn’t, I feel like I wasn’t doing you or anyone else justice. The core of me is to be truly authentic.”
When speaking about her honesty in her music she exclaims, “I think that derives from my parents. My parents were really awesome growing up.” She remembers a time at age 11 when her parents told her she didn’t have to conform to anyone’s opinions or standards. “I think that was the pivot in my life to be like, I guess I have to be authentic all the time.”
Her latest single, “Dealing,” is about mental health. The song was inspired by Nicholas seeing her partner struggle in a way she couldn’t fully understand. “I watched her go through a period in her life that I was so impressed by the outcome and how she brought herself back up,” she says. “I had to just hold space for her. And for someone to ask you to hold space whether that means sitting beside them quietly, or that means giving them time to recoup. That’s where the chorus comes from.” In the track, she sings, “Sometimes I really question it / While I’m looking around at everyone else / Don’t know how to feel / Don’t know how to deal with myself.” Her voice is soothing yet soulful with lyrics that feel intimately raw and hit listeners in the face.
Over the past few months, besides releasing the new single, Nicholas headlined the Rosedale Summit: Country’s Reclamation & Promising Future at the National Museum of African American Music which recently opened in Nashville, Tennesee. She also plans to release one last single of the year on December 31st titled, “Hits Me.” “It’s going to be a heavier song for me. I look forward to making people cry,” she says with a smile.
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