Nicole Atkins (born October 1, 1978) is an American singer-songwriter best known for her work with the band Nicole Atkins & the Sea. Her sound is known for its mix of traditional vocal styles and introspective lyrics. She has been compared to Roy Orbison and singers from the Brill Building era, as well as more contemporary artists like Jenny Lewis. Atkins has called her work "pop-noir."
Atkins was born in Neptune, New Jersey to Arthur “Dutch” Atkins and Constance Atkins. She grew up in Shark River Hills, a middle class enclave within Neptune overlooking the Shark River. Atkins has cited the river (technically a bay) as a major inspiration for her music, particularly the imagery of “the river in the rain” found in the title track on her album Neptune City. She started playing piano when she was 9 and taught herself to play guitar at 13. Her first music purchase, at the suggestion of an uncle, was a cassette of Traffic’s John Barleycorn Must Die. She eschewed more popular acts of the day for musical groups her parents listened to, such as The Ronettes and Johnny Cash. She has also cited The Sundays’ Harriet Wheeler as a major early influence on her own singing style and claims to have once built a shrine to vocalist Robert Plant. She began playing in pick-up bands around this time and continued to do so, often at local coffeehouses, while attending St. Rose High School in the nearby town of Belmar.
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