Singer. Songwriter. Composer. Producer. Rhonda Nicole is all these things, and then some.
Born and raised in Dallas, TX, Rhonda Nicole’s childhood was filled with music. The youngest of five, she made up songs and sang along with the records she heard throughout her home–her mother’s Motown, her father’s New Orleans jazz, her siblings’ pop and R&B, and her own collection of Disney albums and movie soundtracks. Beginning piano lessons at age six and picking up the alto sax as a pre-teen, her fertile imagination and passion for music led her to begin writing original song lyrics at age 12. As a young artist, she sang in church and school choirs, performed in local talent shows, and studied music, dance, and theatre, eventually landing at Dallas’ famed Booker T. Washington High School for Performing and Visual Arts.
Rhonda Nicole launched her professional music career in Osaka, Japan, where she performed as part of the opening cast and crew at Universal Studios Japan. As Mabel in the Blues Brothers Revue, she wowed audiences and channeled the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, belting out her classics “Respect” and “Think.”
Not long after returning to Dallas from Osaka, Rhonda Nicole met musician/songwriter Montrose Cunningham, and joined his band as co-lead vocalist. For the next 10 years, Rhonda Nicole, Montrose, and their band rocked stages throughout Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, building a loyal following across the Texas music scene. As her music career continued to gain momentum, she became the personal assistant to Tom Joyner, renowned media personality and creator and host of the nationally-syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show. Her “day job” and “side hustle” collided in 2008 when she and Montrose and the band were tapped to perform on that year’s Tom Joyner Foundation Fantastic Voyage cruise, and again in 2009 when she returned to perform as a solo artist on the cruise.
In 2010, Rhonda Nicole released her debut EP, Nuda Veritas, co-produced with Cunningham. A labor of love featuring original songs she’d penned primarily between 2001-2006, the two recorded the EP over the course of 4 years and released it independently. That summer, her single “SoulLover” premiered on Dallas independent radio station, KKXT. As the year wound down, Rhonda Nicole graced the stage before an audience of 80,000 at Michael Franti’s 12th annual Power to the Peaceful festival in San Francisco, appeared in the music video for Franti’s single, “Hey, Hey, Hey,” and performed during the Soul Train Awards edition of ATL Live in the Park in Atlanta, GA.
Never one to shy away from new opportunities, in 2011 Rhonda Nicole took the reins of SoulTrain.com, the now-defunct website dedicated to Don Cornelius’ landmark TV show. As managing editor, she led the editorial vision and, along with a small but talented team of freelance writers, helped revitalize the iconic brand for the new digital age. During her 5-year tenure with SoulTrain.com, Rhonda Nicole curated the exclusive Artist to Artist series where she interviewed some of her favorite musicians, and covered live music events such as the Soul Train Awards, BET Awards, ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards, ASCAP Pop Awards, GRAMMY Week, Essence Festival, and Bluesfest Byron Bay in Australia.
Craving a new direction musically, Rhonda Nicole set out for San Francisco in 2012, refocusing her energies on writing new music and redefining herself as a solo artist. Although she actively performed and recorded with a variety of Bay Area artists during her time there, it wasn’t until an unexpected move to Las Vegas in 2016 that Rhonda Nicole truly hit her stride musically. Often referring to her sojourn in the desert as a sort of exile and fueled by an intriguing mix of loneliness, grief, and determination, Rhonda Nicole funneled her energy into her music, recording several albums’ worth of songs in her home studio in 2 years’ time.
Now firmly planted in Los Angeles, Rhonda Nicole released her second EP, Radical Ecstasy, independently in March 2020, nearly a decade after her first foray as a recording artist. Comprised of two new songs (“Healer” and “Human”) and remixes of two tracks previously released on Nuda Veritas (“Mia (Echo’s True Luv Mix)” and “SoulLover (I Know This Much is True Mix”), Radical Ecstasy is a soul/dance collection of songs meant to get the listener out on the dance floor. Towards the end of 2020, she dropped the single “Shelter” and the EP on which it lives, Home, a set of 4 brand new songs inspired by the year’s unprecedented events. What’s especially unique about ‘Home’ is that all the songs were composed in Rhonda Nicole’s childhood home in Dallas, while sheltering in place with her family. To officially close out the year, she released the single “Closing of the Year,” written by Hans Zimmer and performed by Wendy & Lisa from the soundtrack to the Robin Williams-led classic film, ‘Toys.’ This is Rhonda Nicole’s first cover and holiday-themed release.
Rhonda Nicole has been hard at work on her first full-length album, Love & Water, in collaboration with her brother, musician Rod Tankerson. She hopes to release the project, made up of songs exploring grief, loss, love, and renewal, in the near future.