Today we’d like to introduce you to Nikki Leonti.
Hi Nikki, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I signed my first record deal in the gospel music industry at the age of 13.
I toured the world and had many top singles. I found myself pregnant and was kicked out of the industry. I didn’t know how to support myself after that so I started singing sessions in Nashville for local songwriters and touring with country artists like Carrie Underwood as a background singer. I found myself loving songwriting and began writing songs for artists, which eventually led to a 12-year career in film/TV/commercial songwriting.
I moved from Nashville to Los Angeles and ended up with a record deal on Warner Bros. The duo group I was in, Nikki & Rich, ended up doing some great things. from playing the tonight show to our debut on the Ellen Show, I thought this was finally my big break! we ended up not even releasing the album, and were dropped from the label when new executives took over the label. This was a huge disappointment as it was my 3rd record deal.
The songs I co-wrote with rich ended up being used on Ford, Victoria’s Secret, Pepsi, and other commercials and television spots. I realized then that I had a knack for writing songs like this. I started to devote my career to writing this regularly all while singing for television as a SAG/AFTRA singer.
While Singing on Glee, I began to write songs for the Disney channel and other animated projects which also became a passion of mine.
I guess you’d say I’m the little engine that could when it comes to music. I’m not a name that many people know, but you’ve heard my voice on something and you just don’t know. I feel extremely successful only because for over 20 years, I have made a wonderful living only doing what I really love.
I think at times we see superstardom as the only goal, but there are so many other facets of music that can sustain us and create a solid revenue stream for years to come. Staying creative and not giving up on your passions is true success.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There have always been obstacles of many kinds along the way. Music life has ups and downs that you have to learn to adapt to. I began to expand myself and make sure I always had an income stream in music even if one of them ended.
I curated live show events in Los Angeles which had its ups and downs in building and maintaining, but it was the largest live music residency in Los Angeles for eight years. Every different career avenue had its own challenges. It’s almost nearly impossible to be the manager/boss of something and not have at least one enemy.
I found that in many ways, you have to be your number one fan. Nobody cares about your career and advancement as you do. Many times, people can and will drop the ball. You can never think you’ve arrived at a certain place in business and you can finally let other people do all the work while you sit back.
You must always be involved in your career and truly care about it.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Here are some credits on my WIKI- there are more listed on the page…
I spent 4 seasons working as a singer on the Fox hit show Glee. I’ve had hundreds of songs placed in film and tv, and have been a regular songwriter for Disney Channel.
2000: Apocalypse III: Tribulation Soundtrack, vocals on “Everlasting Place”
2002: Left Behind 2: Urban Hip-Hop; “Every time”
2004: Rachael Lampa (background vocals)
2005: Awaken Natalie Grant (background vocals)
2006: Time Again: Amy Grant Live All Access (background vocals)
2008: Get on Board Eric Bibb (background vocals, handclapping)
2009: Sex Therapy: The Session Robin Thicke; co-writer on “Make you love me”
2010: Killers Soundtrack (writer: “Cat and Mouse”)
2012: Glee (season 3) Vocals
2012: Cee Lo’s Magic Moment, vocals on “All you need is Love”
2012: Girl vs. Monster Writer: “Nothing’s gonna stop me now”
2013: Tyler, the Creator Vocalist and Vocal Arranger “Camp Fire”
2013: Glee, season 4; vocals
2013: Teen Beach Movie Writer: “Crusin’ for a bruising” & “Coolest cats in town”
2013: Heart Attack (Demi Lovato song) background vocals
2014: The Little Rascals Save the Day (video), vocals on “My Friend”, “Time For Run”
2014: Ivy Quainoo Writer: Burial
2014: Glee (season 5) Vocals
2014: Candice Glover Music Speaks Writer: “Same kinda man”
2015: Teen Beach 2 Writer: “That’s how we do”
2015: Mac Miller Vocalist and Vocal Arranger “100 Grandkids” & “Perfect Circle/Godspeed”
2015: Light On (song) Writer as performed by Rebecca Ferguson
2015: Rod Stewart (album) Background vocals
2015: Josh Groban Vocals: “Never walk alone”
2015: We Love Disney (2015 album)Backing vocalist for Ariana Grande
2015: Liv and Maddie: Music from the TV Series writer: “what a girl is”
2016: The Passion Live Soundtrack; vocals on eight tracks
2016: Ice Age: Collision Course Writer: “My Superstar” performed by Jessie J (listed as Nicole Leonti and written with Alexander Geringas)
2016: Kirk FranklinPharrell Williams Backing Vocals; “123 Victory”
2016: Hidden Figures (soundtrack) “I see a victory” backing vocals (listed as Nicole Leonti)
2017: Dirty Dancing (2017 film) Contributing vocalist
2017: Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Contributing vocalist
2017: Nut Job 2 Songwriter: “Everybody Get Nuts”
2017: Descendants 2 Songwriter: “You and Me”
2018: Zombies (2018 film) Songwriter: “Fired up”
2018: Jessie J “This Christmas” Album: Backing Vocalist
2018:Tori Kelly “Never Alone” Album: Backing Vocalist
2018: The Grinch (movie) Vocalist and Arranger for Tyler, the Creator&Danny Elfman Collaboration: “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch”
2018: Mac Miller Vocalist and Vocal arranger for “Buttons”
2019: Perfect Harmony (TV series) Contributing Vocalist
2019: A Pentatonix Christmas Contributing Vocalist
2019: Roddy Ricch Arrangements/Vocals “War Baby
2020: Kelly Clarkson Show Appeared as a backing vocalist on several episodes
2020: Eurovision Song ContestContributing Vocalist
2021: The Prom (movie) Contributing Vocalist
2021: Arlo the Alligator Boy Choir Arranger and contributing Vocalist
2022: Monarch (American TV series)Contributing Vocalist
In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
I’ve been currently working on a new project and collaborating with a dear friend of mine and fellow songwriter, Melissa Polinar.
I just wrapped singing vocals on a new FOX TV show coming out this fall called Monarch; with Susan Sarandon and Trace Adkins. I recently got a Samsung commercial and last week I just landed an international Toyota commercial!
Songs miraculously keep getting picked for film/TV spots and I’m grateful for every single one.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: nikkileonti.com
- Instagram: @nikkileonti
- Facebook: nikkileonti
- Twitter: @nikkileonti
- Youtube: nikkileonti