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Nikki Williams

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Spend even a few moments with Nikki Williams and you know that’s exactly what you’re dealing with: an unapologetic, balls-out truth-teller, an old soul at 24 with a killer set of pipes and the attitude to match. A natural born storyteller and a gifted singer-songwriter, Williams is the personification of Newtonian law: a body in motion will stay in motion. “I was born to do this,” she says. “There is no Plan B. This is it. You don’t ignore an instinct.”

Williams’ earliest memories as a young girl in bustling Port Elizabeth, South Africa, feature her performing—belting it out in church at four years old, providing the evening entertainment for her parents and their friends at age 7. But hers was hardly a picture-perfect youth. When post-apartheid crime ravaged her hometown, Williams’ parents decided to pack it in and start anew elsewhere, in Nashville of all places. (“My family grew up listening to country music, so why not?”) At 16, Williams found herself over 8,000 from home, a flame-haired Afrikaner in the land of the Grand Ole Opry. The transition was as tough as it sounds. “It took me a long time to adjust,” she recalls. “Everything from the size of the fast food portions to the fact that people didn’t understand what I was saying. I always had to repeat myself 10 times.”

Not long after the move, her parents divorced—she and her kid sister stayed with her mom in Nashville, while her dad returned to South Africa.

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