Talley To Return To Her Musical Roots


Last updated 9/24/2012 at 4:20pm

Nikki Talley (left) will return to Brevard to perform Friday night.

In January, Nikki Talley and her husband gave up the lease to their Asheville apartment and began touring full time out of their Blue Chevy van. The two will bring “Blue Bell” to the Transylvania County Library’s amphitheater Friday, Sept. 28, for a 7 p.m. show of eclectic acoustic music; but first Talley pulled over to talk about her songwriting, career, and local roots.

Question: You’ve said that Brevard was where “it all started” for you. Talk about that beginning.

Answer: I remembering coming to Brevard in the ‘80s and visiting my grandparents on their totally off the grid land out on Gordon Mountain. They had goats and chickens, collected spring water, and used kerosene lamps. This place has always been magical to me.

It was only natural that I started at Brevard College even though I only completed one year of classes. I wasn’t sure I wanted to study music, so I quit and quickly delved into street performing, playing clubs and coffee shops, writing and touring. A grant from the Transylvania Arts Council back in 2001 allowed me to put out my first recording project, my CD “Brother.”

Brevard was kind of the platform for launching my music. I was able to be part of a community of festivals, venues, and other musicians that helped me hone my craft. I continued to call Brevard home for several years, flip flopping between Key West, Asheville, Toronto, Asheville, and back to Brevard. Now, when we have “time off,” we head to the sacred mountain property that was given to my mom by my grandparents. It’s always a great place to come and fill my creative reservoir after being out on the road.

Q: What does your creative process look like?

A: Every song I write comes to me in a different way. There is not one process. I always joke that there are about 5-10 girls in my head fighting over the microphone. I tend to have a collection of pages torn out of a notebook, plus envelopes and napkins with song ideas all over them. Recently I’ve even been able to record little melodies on my phone when the creative spark happens. I truly feel I am just at the mercy of the song when it comes to me. I just go along for the ride and hope I do it justice.

Q: Who do you consider to be your main influences?

A: It changes so much, but that’s a good thing. One that always makes the list: Annie Talley (who is not only my mother, a biologist, and retired professor, but also a singer, songwriter, guitar, and banjo player). She inspired me at a very young age and allowed me to follow my heart in pursuing it as a career and lifestyle. I am constantly inspired by other musicians who are out there living their dream, too. As of late, I think my main influences have been the people and the places where we’ve traveled. My recent songs are about mountains, rivers, having someone by your side throughout your life’s journey, staying up playing music with friends way too late, the ocean...all of these things are my influences.

Q: At this point, what would you consider to be your career highlight?

A: I’ve had a few really great moments in my career that I would love to relive. One was the Carolina Star Competition a few years back, where I beat out over 350 contestants and won a $10,000 prize. It was a wild ride and I doubt I’ll ever do a contest like that again. It was nerve wracking! I took every dime of that money and put it back into my music. A new guitar, microphone, and CD (“To Be a Bird”) all came from that prize money.

Another highlight was playing the Porter Center two years in a row as part of SAFE’s Fundraiser. I absolutely love lifting up my voice for a good cause and being able to perform in that aurally stunning space was a dream. Sharing the stage with some of the best gals in the business (Shannon Whitworth, Julie Lee, and Beth Wood) was also great.

But all that said, the highlight of my career has been being supported by friends, family, and my fans to raise enough money to get a tour van and successfully tour full time. Since January, my husband and I have played 10 different states and over 130 shows. Being able to follow my heart all over the map and having the freedom to travel with the musical person I love is a highlight of my career as well as my life. Life is good!

Q: What does the next year have in store for you?

A: We just finished a live album that we recorded at The Altamont Theatre in Asheville that will be out next month. I will probably try and do another studio record. We hope to continue this path and try to reach a larger audience, which touring allows us. Our main goal is to continue comfortably supporting ourselves doing what we love. Chasing the dream.


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