Growing up in the church choir and pageant scenes, Nicole Springer quickly became a veteran of local, regional and national music competitions, she said. But when the singer-songwriter embraced her identity as a gay woman in college, her once-supportive family fell away.
Music remained, though Springer wasn’t immediately ready to stage a personal comeback, she said.
“I was disowned by my family for about six years. It was pretty bad,” said Springer, describing the devastation and search for answers that followed one family member’s refusal to accept her. “I was just really a broken person and didn’t have room to be vulnerable and I wasn’t ready to address a lot of things I’ve written about since, so it was really the only thing I could do was take a break.”
She took a year off before returning to the mic in February, racking up a string of accomplishments since: a feature on the Kansas City Star’s Star Sessions; 2019 Best Vocalist nomination from The Pitch KC; and an in-the-works EP, planned with Weights and Measures, who previously worked with Katy Guillen & The Girls and Trampled Underfoot.
Click here to hear more of Nicole Springer’s music.
Springer ended her hiatus when she reached a form of closure with her estranged family member, she said.
“I sent an email to her, cut the ties and just fell apart in my room and wrote my new single, ‘Hell,’” said Springer, noting the song’s message resonated with many fans. “I’ve had a lot of people respond to it with ‘Dang! Did you write that about me and my boyfriend?’ ‘Did you write that about me and my ex?’ It’s a universal thing, you know: We all have a toxic person in our life, and whoever it is, it’s really hard to get released from that.”
Returning to music has also provided Springer with a new understanding of ownership, she said.
“My intentions were to just do my music as a soloist, but the universe just kinda nudges you and I’ve met three really amazing musicians and friends now who love my music and love being a part of it,” Springer said of the trio who join in her sound. “They understand that I need autonomy with it and that it’s mine. Just as a queer woman, as a victim of sexual violations, especially within the music community, it is just very important for me to make a statement.”
Springer’s sound can best be described as a mix of folk, pop and Americana.
“I tend to weave in and out of different genres like old country and Roy Orbison, but then I love Motown, so I’ve definitely got some of those bass lines going on,” she said. “Then also love Creedence Clearwater Revival, which adds some southern rock touch to some of it too.”
Now a full-time musician, Springer is set to play the Plaza Art Fair next month, Startland’s Sept. 19 Innovation Exchange, “Investing in the Power of Women,” and the Middle of the Map Fest in October.
Click here to learn more about the “Investing in the Power of Women” event.
Click here for more planned performances.
Springer eventually wants to hit the road and explore the festival circuit, she said.
“I would love to play every women’s and Americana festival out there, and I have a band that’s on-board with that,” Springer said. “I want to be taken seriously. I want to put myself in there for a Grammy nomination … I would have laughed in my own face had I said that a year ago, but now, why not?”
Regardless of where music takes her, she said, Springer hopes others can benefit from her message.
“I think there is something in all these songs that is meant for somebody else. It’s not just about me or my experience,” she said. “On top of that, I perform them with all of my heart, everything. I get broken again when I sing every single song, because that’s the only way to communicate it.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.