The original version of this article included several errors. The Gazette apologizes for these errors.
Sometimes it takes time for a singer’s inner voice to be heard. Not the voice producers or managers want to manipulate into best-selling charts, but the strong, impassioned voice that speaks to people’s hearts.
St. Albert singer-songwriter Julia Nicholson, 22, has built a career using three different monikers. First came Julia Nicholson, a young country and pop singer. After high school graduation, she rebranded as Lia Cole, a kick-ass marketable pop version. But the latest stage as Jimi reveals a more mature singer-songwriter completely in tune with her soulful lyrics and powerful guitar lines.
Jimi released Say It To Me in July 2020, a new single where lyrics and musical instruments flow easily into one other, creating a beautiful dynamic.
“It’s about love and it’s timeless,” said Jimi. “I wrote this song and co-produced it as an R&B groove.
“I want people to get lost in the music and escape reality. I don’t want it to be just about two people. I want to go deeper and reach everybody and touch them differently.”
But it was a single that came out Dec. 5 this year that placed her on a completely different level of musicianship. I Don’t Mind is a serene, slow-paced dreamy track where Jimi makes the most of her soft, breathy, sensual voice.
“It’s an uplifting song, the most acoustic I’ve done. It’s also the catchiest, one people will want to sing to,” said Jimi.
When Nicholson transitioned from Lia Cole, she wrote a personal note to Facebook fans.
“To be honest, I was going through a lot of personal stuff, a lot of things I had to figure out for myself so I took a break ... But that didn’t mean I stopped writing and recording. It took me a long time to reach this point in my career, but I feel like I have truly found my voice, my sound and my happiness.”
Writing new music also prompted the rediscovery of what is meaningful, and that led to a new name.
“When I was young, I was a big tomboy. I had two older sisters and I often felt left out. I became my grandpa’s little buddy. He started to call me ‘Jimi’ and it stuck. This feels like me. It feels comfortable. I wasn’t trying to be someone else.”
She credits Toronto producers Ari Rhodes and Mikhail Cronin for reviving her career when the trio recorded at Studio 81 Supreme in the spring.
“It was a small intimate studio. I had never met Mikhail, but he helped make it special. We all came together as a team to make music. They inspired me and made it extra special for me.”
Jimi describes her songs as similar to listening to 70s hits, a throwback to beautiful chord progressions and strong lyrics where everything cascades instinctively.
“It’s timeless music, the kind captured by Bill Withers or Fleetwood Mac. It’s got soft, mellow lines that will take you to a different world.”
Jimi will be releasing an album in the spring of 2021. Her music can be heard on Spotify and Instagram by typing @JimiSound.