Nikki Hill: The new Queen of Rock ‘N’ Roll

nikki-hillL. Kent Wolgamott, Lincoln Journal Star

In 1957, “Here’s Little Richard” was the first album from the Quasar of Rock, the Originator, the Architect of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Fifty-five years later, “Here’s Nikki Hill” introduced the Southern Fireball, the new Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, who performs Wednesday at the Zoo Bar.

The similar titles and album cover designs aren’t mere coincidence. Rather, in very cool style, Hill’s paying homage to one of her key influences.

“Hearing Little Richard on the radio, if you’re a rock ‘n’ roll fan, Little Richard is going to move you, no matter where you are, no matter who you are,” Hill said in a phone interview last week. “He’s a huge influence as far as making that bridge between gospel and rock ‘n’ roll.

“My first singing experience was in gospel choirs. I’ve listened to Little Richard, Otis Redding, The Staple Singers. They took that gospel sound and brought it into rock ‘n’ roll. Since my voice fits it, I’m into it.”

The gospel transformed into soul can be heard on “Here’s Nikki Hill,” so can vintage R&B and even a tinge of reggae in the guitar on the cover of the 1990 Texas Tornados hit “Who Were You Thinking Of.”

The swinging “Strapped to the Beat” with its saxophone lead could have come out 55 years ago, but it’s invigorated and fresh.

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