Q&A with Detroit-based soulful rocking blues singer Niecie, has torn up the music scene for over 3 decades

"To be a Blueswoman, you have to work that much harder than a man, in my opinion. You must stand out that much more. There are far more opportunities for men in the music industry so a woman often times must create her own. This is true going back in history not only in the music industry but in all sectors of life."

Niecie: Queen Sitting On Her Throne

Born and raised in the Motor City, Niecie’s uncompromising vocals contain the knowing scars of that truth, and the result is a sound that infuses elements of her own story into every song she sings, making it her own. Niecie has had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Koko Taylor, Larry McCray, Magic Slim and the Teardrops, former Allman Brothers Johnny Neel, and Shaun Murphy. Niecie has performed in the blues world most famous venues such as The House of Blues, Buddy Guy’s Legends, Manny’s Car Wash, B.B. King’s just to name a few. Niecie has also performed worldwide in France, Germany, England and Canada. From Detroit, Niecie continued her musical journey in Chicago. It was here that the blues swarmed her soul and took hold of her spirit. Where else but Chicago! Niecie tore up the Windy City blues scene throughout the 1980’s. Niecie performed in Las Vegas at the Hacienda, Sahara, Aladdin and the San Remo Hotels and Casinos. She then took to California gigging in the Los Angeles blues scene. From west to east, Niecie found her way to Boston. Here she studied with some of the greats from the Berklee College of Music. While in Boston, Niecie gigged up and down the east coast from New York to Florida.                                               (Niecie / Photo by Anna Marie)

Produced by Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner former Allman Brothers Johnny Neel, Niecie’s music has topped charts all over the world landing on Billboard, RMR and Living Blues charts. Niecie was recently voted Fan Favorite by the LA Music Critics Awards. Beginning her journey in Detroit, Niecie has torn up the music scene for over 3 decades. How Niecie fell into the blues is quite a story. During a gig with a rock band while on tour in Lincoln Nebraska, Niecie stepped outside on set break. As fortune would have it, she didn’t know that her set had been overheard by none other than bluesman extraordinaire Magic Slim, who also happened to be on break from his gig at the Zoo Bar. Slim approached Niecie and said, “Girl, you need to sing the blues,” and invited her to join him on stage at the Zoo Bar. The rest, as they say, is history. Billboard artist, Niecie, released her latest album "Queen Of The Hill" (2022), co-produced with Johnny Neel. Raw and soulful rocking blues with Detroit flavor that will take you on a roller coaster of emotions.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Blues/Soul and Rock culture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Being a child of the 60’s, at a time when the Blues/Soul and Rock music was a profound voice of the masses, the culture opened my eyes to what was really going down in society and in the world. The lyrics speak the truth and come deep from the heart. This is how I choose to live my life and is reflected in my music.  The culture has put me on a path of telling it like it is, embracing and promoting social change which often comes from injustice. The Blues/Soul and Rock culture comes deep from within. The music has opened my mind up to compassion and understanding of the passions of all people of all walks of life.

How do you describe Niecie sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

My sound is truly a reflection of me and my life. I make a point of being unique and not trying to be like anyone else. My passion and love for life definitely comes through the energy in my upbeat tunes, often times whimsical. On the other hand, when I slow it down, there’s deep introspection and an underlying sultry feel. My music comes from where I’ve been and the experiences, I have had in this journey called life. This includes joy and sorrow, pain and pleasure, the good and the bad.

"What I miss most is the raw sound. I love the warmth of analog recording on tape.  The recording techniques were more genuine in yesteryear. The industry has become too digitized in my opinion. Anyone can be made to song good with modern technology. Having said that, my fear is that there will be less and less of true artists, and more manufactured talent." (Niecie / Photo by Anna Marie)

Which is the most interesting period in your life? Which was the best and worst moment of your career?

One of the most interesting periods of my life was when I first went to Nashville to record my debut CD in 2000. I was discovered at a jam at a dive bar in Detroit and was invited down to Nashville by my producer at the time Nioshi Jackson. I walked into my first session for my Peace of My Mind release and almost passed out from the excitement. The room was filled with A-listers and heavy hitters from the music industry including Willie Weeks and Johnny Neel who later became my producer. Learning from these geniuses was a major pivot point in my career.  This would also qualify as the best moments in my career as well. One of the worst moments of my career was when I was played the Cancun Jazz Festival in 1990. Although there were dangerous thunderstorms, they still continued with the show. Besides being sopping wet, I was terrified that I was going to electrocute with all the rain and electricity going on the stage.

Are there any memories from Koko Taylor, Magic Slim, and Johnny Neel which you’d like to share with us?

My fondest memory of Koko Taylor was when I did a show with her in 2002, The Detroit / Chicago Women of Blues. This was the first time I had the pleasure to meet her, and it was the first time that she saw me perform. I guess she really dug me because she blessed me with one of my promo quotes I use “Niecie is definitely someone to look out for. She reminds me of me in my younger years”. I am forever grateful.

Magic Slim will always have my heart. He was the one responsible for giving me my push into the Blues. He had heard me singing at a bar in Lincoln, Nebraska while he was on break from the Zoo Bar and invited me up to sit in with him. The rest is history.

I have so many great memories of Johnny Neel. My favorite moments are songwriting with Johnny. He is a musical genius. We always have big fun. One of my best memories of Johnny is when he went on tour with me to promote my Wanted Woman release that he produced. How blessed am I to have a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner and former Allman Brothers as a co-writer and producer and to share the stage with!

"Being a child of the 60’s, at a time when the Blues/Soul and Rock music was a profound voice of the masses, the culture opened my eyes to what was really going down in society and in the world. The lyrics speak the truth and come deep from the heart." (Niecie / Photo by Anna Marie)

Motown, Chicago, Nashville. From the musical point of view what are the differences between the local scenes in States?

Each scene has it’s own cool vibe. They all have a variety of music genres, but each is known for being more prevalent in one genre than others. Nashville is undoubtedly the country music capital but not to say there is plenty of blues, rock, jazz and Americana. Chicago has always held a place in my soul as the major scene for the blues. The rich history still prevails there with the biggest blues talents reigning from there. Detroit is huge on R&B and soul. There is also a vibrant jazz scene there that dates way back. Let’s not forget the rock’n roll that Detroit is also known for.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of music?

What I miss most is the raw sound. I love the warmth of analog recording on tape.  The recording techniques were more genuine in yesteryear. The industry has become too digitized in my opinion. Anyone can be made to song good with modern technology. Having said that, my fear is that there will be less and less of true artists, and more manufactured talent.

What does to be a blueswoman in a “Man Man World” as James Brown says? Which memory makes you smile?

To be a Blueswoman, you have to work that much harder than a man, in my opinion. You must stand out that much more. There are far more opportunities for men in the music industry so a woman often times must create her own. This is true going back in history not only in the music industry but in all sectors of life.  More of the woman forerunners need to be acknowledge as well as the men who get credit. The memories that make me smile are the events, festivals and shows that are part of the International Women In Blues organization which has been building more and more momentum as time goes on. It is a wonderful experience to have comradery with my blues sisters.

"My sound is truly a reflection of me and my life. I make a point of being unique and not trying to be like anyone else. My passion and love for life definitely comes through the energy in my upbeat tunes, often times whimsical. On the other hand, when I slow it down, there’s deep introspection and an underlying sultry feel. My music comes from where I’ve been and the experiences, I have had in this journey called life. This includes joy and sorrow, pain and pleasure, the good and the bad."

(Niecie / Photo by Anna Marie)

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

One of the most important lessons I have learned is to be diligent. You must believe in yourself, your talents and your dreams. The music industry is a tough one and is not for the faint of heart. You must keep pushing no matter what. It is very important that when you achieve any level of success to remain humble. You must remember that you did not get there by yourself, it takes a team.

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