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Nikka Costa


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Biography from VH1.com

Nikka Costa (born: June 4, 1972) is no stranger to the music business. Having been raised inside some of the most influential social circles during her childhood, Costa was molded for perfection in her own right. She's the daughter of famed arranger/producer Don Costa (Paul Anka, Dinah Washington, Tony Bennett), not to mention the goddaughter of Frank Sinatra. Her first musical gig was at age five, opening for Don Ho. Two years later she wowed 300,000 Police fans in Chile. Nikka Costa was a natural.

Costa went back and forth between Los Angeles and Europe, maintaining a sharp childhood sense while molding a sophisticated music career. By age seven, she sang "On My Own" with the Don Costa Orchestra in Milan. From there, her sassy persona was captured on record. She released several albums throughout Europe, Israel, Central and South America, most of them going platinum. Whirlwind success, however, was not overwhelming. Costa's early days spent in her father's recording studio, meeting Quincy Jones, Sly Stone, and Sammy Davis Jr., perfected this inspiring singer/songwriter into the humble individual she's turned out to be.

Her late teens were spent on the top of the German charts and by the time she reached her mid-twenties, she called Australia home. She became a favorite among the Outback, landing a deal with Mushroom Records and issuing Butterfly Rocket in the mid-'90s. It garnered a nomination for "Best New Artist" at the annual Australian Recording Industry Awards.

The new millennium sparked a new scene for Costa. Now a mature woman with a fiery spark of determination and passion, this red-headed siren's songwriting expanded into an alluring art. Her urban vocalic stylings sashayed with a raw sexiness, yet with class. She signed with the Aussie label Cheeba Sound, home to soon-to-be labelmate D'Angelo. The sultry single "Like a Feather" marked Costa's almost ignored debut in fall 2000 when the cut was used in a Tommy Hilfiger advert. Virgin Records took notice though, properly introducing Nikka Costa to the world in spring 2001 with the full-length release of Everybody Got Their Something.

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I left out quite a few of her earlier records, and included these most recent records.

Butterfly Rocket[cover photo]

Release date: 01.01.96

01. Get Off My Sunshine

02. Flowers

03. Come Clean

04. Master Blaster

05. In this Life

06. Treat Her Right

07. Meltdown

08. I Do Believe

09. Black Seed

10. Grab Hold

11. Who's Loving You

Everybody Got Their Something[cover photo]

Label: Virgin

Released: 05.22.01

01. Like a Feather

02. So Have I for You

03. Tug of War

04. Everybody Got Their Something

05. Nothing

06. Nikka What?

07. Hope It Felt Good

08. Some Kind of Beautiful

09. Nikka Who?

10. Just Because

11. Push & Pull

12. Corners of My Mind


No further information available at this time.

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Nikka Costa: She's Got Her Something

Nikka Costa combines funk and rock, heart and soul

Nikka Costa entered the business as soon as she was born…it wasn't a choice, her family was pretty much running things. Although you can't choose your family, you can choose your career and Nikka chose music almost as much as music chose her. Nikka is currently tearing up the ears and eyes of music listeners with her new album, vibrant look and down-home personality. She spits out the names of rock legends, current and past, with a nonchalance and respect that not many have. She had written a killer rock song and opened for the Police in Chile by the time she was seven.

"I did always know I wanted to do music, but it's kinda weird, because I fell into it as a career earlier on, as a kid, so it wasn't a decision that I made," Nikka said from her Los Angeles home, while eating lunch and politely asking her new puppy Bella, to please not eat the couch. Her father, Don Costa was a legendary arranger and producer who worked with Paul Anka, Dinah Washington, Quincy Jones, Sly Stone, Sammy Davis Jr. and Tony Bennett…and was good enough friends with Frank Sinatra to have him become Nikka's godfather. He was around to get Nikka initiated into the business; her first show was at age five, opening for Don Ho. But her father passed away when Nikka was 10 and the loss of a parent encouraged her to stop performing…at least until she was 14 and moved to Australia, restarting her career.

But nepotism wasn't a problem for Nikka, "The industry was like, 'Oh yeah, her dad was Don Costa, he was really talented," she said. "But at the end of the day, they're just like, 'Let's hear the music.' Luckily people were like, 'Well, she's good' and left it at that." Her strong upbringing never let her get egotistical about her position in the world or the fact that Ol' Blue Eyes was a close personal friend. "My dad was working with all those people and they were always around, but it's not like I understood who they were or how famous, or how talented or anything," she said. "They were people my dad was working with, so I was pretty nonchalant about it really, because I was so young. I think the only way it affected my career was that by being around musicians and being around music, it was a possibility, it wasn't some weird idea that I had. It made sense because of my environment."

Breaking ground with Everyone's Got Their Something in America is a whole new experience for Nikka, who has already released several albums in Europe, Israel, Central and South America and Australia, where her longstanding career has been established. Most of her albums in those parts of the world went platinum. In the States, she first caught the public's eye with a Tommy Hilfiger commercial where her throaty voice and soulstress attitude captured the attention of many.

Especially Virgin Records…they signed her because of the commercial and the song she sang, "Like a Feather." But the cross-continental effect of her music doesn't bother her. She said, "Here [in the US], I'm totally new to everybody and they just take it on this record. In other countries, they think [Everyone's Got Their Something] is a lot different than before. They're looking for a big comeback or something."

Nikka said that being a star already in other parts of the world is no added pressure. "Either way there are going to be people who like your music and people who don't, it doesn't matter how many records you put out. It's up to them whether they're feeling it." And "feeling" Nikka's music isn't that hard if you are ready for something new and different. She blends rock stylings of the '70s with soul of the '60s and a little added funk for flavor. Her serrated sexy voice, funky jams and introspectively honest lyrics make her something that is not initially mainstream sounding or feeling, but that doesn't worry her. "I don't think [my music] is mainstream because of what's mainstream right now, but I don't think that it couldn't be. That's just a matter of radio embracing different stuff and I don't think they do that. It's a matter of getting out there in different ways, like touring and stuff," Nikka said. "I don't think there's a huge hole for my type of music, but it's cool because I think a lot of people are sick of the candy pop stuff and they want something to relate to. There's a few artists out there that are doing different stuff, it just takes a little longer because it's not obvious."

And it's the fact that her music isn't that obvious that makes it stand out and shine like it does. It's Nikka's own personal touches, blending her history and current state of mind. "I knew I wanted to mix rock and funk and soul, because I love those types of music. I didn't want to limit myself, 'Well, I should decide, am I a soul singer or a rock singer?' I didn't feel like that was necessary. I'm just going to do what I like and what I think sounds good and let it stay there."

And what she thinks sounds good really does in many people's opinions. She's starting up her first headlining tour of the States and members of Coldplay ("I have such a crush on him [Chris Martin, lead singer]"), Jill Scott ("the coolest, coolest lady") and Beck ("He's really fun and crazy") claim to be fans. And part of what makes people fans is Nikka's down and dirty, blunt and brutal honesty. "I think records are like little maps of where you were at the time you were making them," Nikka said. "I didn't make up stories or pick a theme, it just seems to be that I write about a human kind of issue, like love and accepting yourself, and doing your shit and that kind of stuff. I sing my ass off."

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Nikka Costa: Something For Everyone

She's Janis Joplin-meets-Lenny Kravitz. She's a petite, redheaded songstress who belts out an ear-catching blend of funk-drenched rock 'n' soul. The phrase "hellcat" comes to mind when describing her performances. Her name? Nikka Costa.

Heads started fiendin' for Nikka's sound last summer, thanks to a Tommy Hilfiger television commercial that featured her track "Like A Feather." That song is now the opening cut on her highly anticipated new CD Everybody Got Their Something (Cheeba Sound/Virgin Records). The album took two years to complete, "from writing to mixing," says the 28-year-old singer via phone from New York, where she's in the middle of a busy promotional tour. "We kind of locked ourselves away for the majority of songs, trying to find a way to combine rock, hip-hop, and soul. Lots of experimenting. We laid down tracks in New York and L.A., in my bedroom, in the hallway..."

The Los Angeles native is credited with either writing or co-writing all 10 tracks on Everybody Got Their Something, which she also co-produced with Justin Stanley and Mark Ronson. She plays acoustic guitar and piano on some songs as well. Solquarian's Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, Pino Paladino, and James Poyser--a trio that's created hits for Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, and D'Angelo--also lent their platinum touch to the project.

Appearances to the contrary, Nikka's no overnight success story--she's been performing since she was 5 years old. Her father was the legendary Don Costa, an arranger, producer, and composer for such legends as Frank Sinatra, Dinah Washington, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan, and Barbra Streisand; heir apparent to her father's talent, Nikka snagged her first record deal and was opening for the Police in Chile in front of 300,000 people by the time she was 8. But then her father died when she was 10, and it was four years before she released another album. After that, she lived life, moved Down Under, and, in the mid-'90s, released Butterfly Rocket, a record that garnered her the best new artist Australian Recording Industry Award (ARIA), the Aussie equivalent of the Grammy.

Even though she's enjoyed an exciting career and has fans in many countries, Nikka still considers herself "a new artist everywhere." But she admits that having had that experience, "It's easier to deal with the work of it. I know what to expect as well what I have to put in to it. I'm comfortable with being in the studio, even though I'm still growing and learning."

Nikka says her previous stint in the biz has taught her a very important lesson: "To be very truthful to what I feel and my gut instinct, and to be true to the music that I want to do and not be led by what people think I should be doing." Apparently, she learned her lesson well: Everybody Got Their Something is a refreshing breath of fresh talent that's sure to have something for everyone.

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Nikka Costa Going For 'Rawer' On Next LP, Hopes To Nab Lenny Kravitz

Singer said to expect the as-yet-untitled album next summer.

Fri. November 08.2002

Nikka Costa is working on the follow-up to her acclaimed major-label debut and is reaching out to a fellow retro rocker for assistance.

"I might do something with Lenny [Kravitz]," Costa said at the recent release party for Justin Timberlake's Justified. "I'm trying to reel him in, but you never know."

A few people Costa will definitely be working with are her husband, Justin Stanley, and Mark Ronson, together known as the Soundhustlers. Aside from working together on Costa's Everybody Got Their Something, which was nominated for last year's Shortlist Music Prize, the trio have also worked together on Ronson's upcoming album.

"At the moment it's looking like it's going to be a lot rawer, you know, the real rock chick," Costa explained. "It's coming along really good. [There's] going to be some different colors on this one."

Costa said to expect the as-yet-untitled album next summer.

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Seven Questions With Nikka Costa

She talks about the genesis for her hit "Like a Feather" (aka "The Sweaty Tommy Hilfiger Commercial Song"), as well as her preteen recording star past, how she found her voice, and why she wrote a song about her teddy bear.

Mon. June 25.2001

Nikka Costa made her first recording when she was 5, and her live debut when she was 7; she sang on the White House lawn with Frank Sinatra when she was 9. Following the death of her father, legendary producer/arranger/Sinatra right-hand man Don Costa, she retired from the business. She was 10.

Wild oats sown, a dance/pop confection recorded, and years of self-discovery on multiple continents completed, Costa hooked up with celebrity DJ Mark Ronson to become the flagship artist for his Cheeba Sound imprint. The result: Everybody Got Their Something, a collection of her modern pop informed by blues, Sly & the Family Stone, and hip-hop.

We asked Ms. Costa about the genesis for her hit "Like a Feather" (aka "The Sweaty Tommy Hilfiger Commercial Song"), as well as her preteen recording star past, how she found her voice, and why she wrote a song about her teddy bear.

VH1: What are your earliest memories of performing?

Nikka Costa: When I was 3, I would do shows for my dad's friends. I would make up songs, you know, doing stupid sh*t. Then when I was like 6 or 7 I remember being in the studio wearing headphones that were too massive for my head and having my dad on the other side of the console saying, "Sing it the way you feel it."

[Performing professionally] started with my dad doing a concert in Italy and at the last minute he [introduced me], and I came on and sang this song, and the whole place went mental. I was about 7, and the next thing I know I was in the studio, picking songs and recording stuff — pretty trippy. After that it was just a big blur of planes and TV sets and crowds.

I was enjoying it, definitely, but the thing is, when you're a kid, whatever situation you're in, you don't have anything to compare it to — so you don't know if you're living a weird life or not. In retrospect, it was like another life. It's very surreal, but I wouldn't trade it in.

VH1: You started writing songs then, too, and one of the songs you wrote was pretty popular overseas. You wrote it with your mom?

Costa: Yeah. We wrote this song about my teddy bear. I remember being in this hotel room somewhere in Europe and she had the music and she was like, "What do you want to say about your teddy bears?" and I was like, "Well..." It was kind of funny.

When I was younger, I performed a lot of standards, like "Someone to Watch Over Me." A lot of Gershwin — it wasn't kiddie songs. The one song about my teddy bear was, and I think I did "Candy Man" or something like that, but this was a total different style, obviously. As you get older, you want to do other stuff. I did this record in my early teens [in 1989]. It was the '80s — a bad, bad period — and I loved Exposé and dance music - that kind of Euro stuff.

VH1: Those albums sold millions of records around the world. You're still recognized, right? What's that experience like?

Costa: Bizarre. I didn't think that anyone would recognize me still, but I think a lot of people have the sentimental love for this little girl that was performing with her dad. As they grew up with it, they still held it within their hearts. And I don't think I look very different from when I was little! I'm still that short. I didn't grow. [Laughs]

VH1: It's hard to imagine comparing that stuff to what you're doing now. When did you start developing your sound?

Costa: Definitely when I was graduating high school. I was really into Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin, all the old Motown stuff and Stax. I would just sit around and rewind their tapes and try to sing the harmonies and learn each part. I would sit in front of my stereo for hours. I wanted to get that — whatever that was. This little white girl in Beverly Hills. It took a while. But then a weird thing happened when I was 21. All of a sudden, my voice did this drop thing. I could be raspy if I wanted to be raspy, or I could belt out, and there was this certain sound. I don't know if it was just some hormonal thing or whatever, but it kind of shifted for me. I remember that day. It was actually on my birthday.

VH1: And you moved to Australia, where you developed your sound some more and things kind of started turning around for you.

Costa: Yeah, I was forming bands and writing, trying to figure out how to write songs and stuff like that. Living there and loving living there. It was beautiful. I was playing in Australia for about two, three years. I got a deal over there, and so I did this record [butterfly Rocket] that was a lot more rocky, more bluesy. We did a lot of gigs — screaming in smoky bars, which I love. It was a really, really good way to practice live performances, because they were really hard audiences over there, since they go to pubs all the time, see a lot of bands. You really have to work to get them into it.

VH1: You wrote all the lyrics on your album. What would you say is the theme of Everybody Got Their Something?

Costa: Being true to your dreams; being true to yourself; when there's a lot of doubt thrown at you, to not buy into it; and love. Pretty universal themes. The title track is about how everybody does have something that's their thing that they can just run with and use to inspire other people. Which is cool, because everybody does have something they can offer. "Like a Feather," that's about surrender. If a feather is life, and you grab for it, the feather runs away from you. But if you just put your hand out, it will just fall to you. So if you just chill and let it come in its own time, it will.

VH1: What would your father think of your new album?

Costa: I think he was definitely instrumental in hooking us all up, watching over the project. I always think that he's my angel, and I think he would dig it.

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  • 4 years later...

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