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Nicole McKenna: The Secret Is Out With 'Stay Awhile' CD
By Chris Burnett, Burnett Music
(more articles from this author)
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Nicole single-handedly cultivated a flowering underground scene of her own. Through ingenious networking and word of mouth, Nicole's sexy, breathy vocal mystique and natural gift for melody got heads turning fast.

Regardless of your tastes in the various genres of popular music being recorded today, you'll be immediately captivated by Nicole McKenna's new music on Stay Awhile; the grooves are infectious. The lyrics are pensive, but retain the right amount of a defiant edge. And, the voice is top-shelf in terms of tone quality, pitch, and expressive range. All of these elements come together perfectly on Nicole McKenna's latest commercial CD release titled, Stay Awhile.

"Take Me Over"
RealAudio - MP3


Back in New York City, Nicole honed her songwriting and concert performance skills as a regular headliner at The Living Room, the legendary CBGB's and The Bitter End. Critics raved, calling her one of the city's "best kept secrets."

The secret is out. Nicole single-handedly cultivated a flowering underground scene of her own. Through ingenious networking and word of mouth, Nicole's sexy, breathy vocal mystique and natural gift for melody got heads turning fast. In 2001, she released her debut eponymous CD, produced by Saul Zonana (Blue Oyster Cult, Luv Junkies, Ace Frehely). Performing Songwriter magazine chose Nicole's song "You Can't" as one of the top 12 independent releases to appear on their Editor's Choice Compilation CD, Volume 8 in 2001, alongside artists such as Alice Peacock (Aware/Columbia) and Will Hoge (Atlantic). More information on Nicole is available at

"Anywhere But Here"
RealAudio - MP3


With her second album Stay Awhile (20/20 Music), Nicole's songcraft has reached new levels of maturity - a fresh, honest, diverse set of songs packed with emotional realism and an irrepressible optimism that shuns the dark and trendy cynicism found in many singer/songwriters of her generation. Produced by Saul Zonana and recorded at 20/20 Music and Acme Studios, Stay Awhile showcases Nicole's stunning voice in the context of finely polished, compact guitar driven pop. Initial response to Stay Awhile has been fantastic, judging by the enthusiasm of those who packed the many NYC shows to hear Nicole debut the songs live. Pre-publicity advance online sales of Stay Awhile have been unusually brisk.

More on Nicole McKenna
* Genre: Rock & Pop
* Hometown: New York City
* Website:
* Label: 20/20 Music
* Buy "Stay Awhile"
* Buy "Nicole Mckenna"
* Contact Nicole McKenna


Your background as a performer is actually rather extensive, ranging from headlining at famous New York City venues such as The Living Room, the legendary CBGB's and The Bitter End; to performing at the Nashville New Music Conference in November of 2002. What is your approach to concerts and shows as a live performer?

[Nicole McKenna] Playing live is the big payoff for me. It's the time when I get to finally do what it's all about - it's really the whole reason for writing and recording music. And at the point at which I'm on stage, its about those people who are into the music enough to take time out and see a show, so I feel like I owe them. There's nothing better than when you find the right balance between thinking and not thinking, and you can connect with the audience. That's the greatest - because it's what the audience came for, and it's what I need to feel as well.

RealAudio: "Yeah Song"

Let's talk about your latest CD release, Stay Awhile. Upon several listens, the album works on several levels: it is accessible, engaging and enjoyable to the ear. The musicians are sharp and play well together. Any listener will appreciate the message in your lyrics, interaction of the performers, and the tasteful treatment of songs. What do you want to leave listeners with after they hear this CD?

[Nicole McKenna] I guess Id like to leave them with a few things. On the simplest of levels, you hope the songs will stick. I love when I hear a song off of a CD and I literally press the repeat button on the CD player because it has that much of an effect on me that I need to hear it again. That's my highest hope is that someone might feel that way about one of my songs. On another level, people have said to me that the lyrics to my songs are sort of sad, and I guess that's true. But I think its positive all in all, because everybody goes through crap and life is hard but its beautiful too and we all feel those things sometime. So if it makes someone feel like they're not alone, then that is the ultimate thing I'd like to leave with them.

RealAudio: "Ordinary Day"

How do you approach writing and recording new material? And, do you collaborate with other writers?

[Nicole McKenna] Writing happens differently for me all the time. It could be an idea that strikes me when I don't expect it, and it could be when I sit down and sort of noodle around. But that being said, I don't have that much control over it. I feel kind of like a facilitator. Something could come through fast and easily and I've got a new song in 20 minutes, and then other times nothing comes through. Now I know to just let it go and walk away - I cant force it. Something will channel through a little later.

I co-wrote a bunch of songs on my album with Saul Zonana, the producer of Stay Awhile. The way we co-write, though, I think is different from most. We don't usually sit down and collaborate from step one. It was more like Id be writing a section of a song and not be sure where it should go next, and he'd have the perfect place for it to go. Sometimes I'd have a chorus and need a verse, or vice versa; and sometimes he'd tweak a chord or two - that kind of stuff. He was able to bring out some songs that never would have ended up the way they did. It was a great experience.

What are you doing to promote the new release?

[Nicole McKenna] Well, Evolution Promotion is promoting the record to radio and is getting a bunch of airplay on college and AAA stations across the country. Plus, one of Clear Channel's pop stations, Star 93.3 in Poughkeepsie, New York is playing "Take Me Over" alot and they tell me they are getting a big response. As all that continues to grow, we're out touring playing venues, colleges, doing instores and radio stations to support the release.

MP3: "Back To You"

How important is the management and promotion team to your career?

[Nicole McKenna] To say the team behind this project is critical to my career is an understatement. From management to promotion to the production of the music, it takes a lot of constant effort from everyone to create and sustain the momentum it needs.

As an up and coming artist with seemingly unlimited potential, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

[Nicole McKenna] I hope to be in a place where the numbers of people wanting to hear my music have grown and are continuing to grow, and the opportunities to reach them have grown as well. Ill be playing and creating music for as long as anyone wants to hear me, so in order to keep myself grounded and driven I try to think of it that way.

What advice would you give to the new singer/songwriter who is just getting started?

[Nicole McKenna] There are so many great people out there doing what we do. The only way to rise up and reach your goals, whatever they may be, is to persevere, be tenacious, give yourself the time and space to create, and then do it all over again.

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