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Encore: Learning a Thing (or Three) from the 'Godmother Of Charlotte Rock' Hope Nicholls

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Photo courtesy of Hope Nicholls.
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Hope Nicholls singing with her band Fetchin’ Bones in 1989.

Charlotte has changed a great deal in the past 30 years, but a musical constant of sorts has been Hope Nicholls.

The singer-songwriter has kept to her own beat in Charlotte, whether as leader of the CBGB-rocking 80s band Fetchin’ Bones, singer for the Southern indie group It’s Snakes, or owner of the rock 'n' roll boutique Boris & Natasha.

"If I had wanted to make a lot of money, I would have gone into a typical Charlotte line of working — like banking or real estate. But, that’s not to me what art is about. It’s about doing what you have to do, and so we have to do something different."
– Hope Nicholls

Interview Highlights:

On one of the first performances she saw:

I remember sitting down in the old Love Auditorium and watching Chicago — before they were just called Chicago, but were called Chicago Transit Authority. We were sitting on maybe like the fifth or sixth row (this was a fairly small auditorium) and they had this just massive horn section.

Everybody was just so loud and my Mom just goes, “Why do they have to be so loud? Everyone can hear it.” And I’m just like about to implode because I’m so happy, and there’s so much movement coming off the stage in every kind of way.

On working and living with her best friend:

Aaron [Nicholls’ husband] and I are unlike a lot of people in that the more time we spend with each other, the better it is. We do everything together all the time. From making music to raising our kids.

Whatever it is, we like to do it. I don’t know, we just get along. I don’t understand how people’s significant other isn’t also their best friend.

On choosing to quit her first band, "Fetchin Bones":

I’m very happy that we didn’t continue with that band because I look at some bands and feel like while they might have more money or more fame, they can’t be more happy than Aaron and I are. We’ve gotten to make so much amazing music. I want more people to hear it than have, but I have no regrets.

On how people can make Charlotte a better home for local music:

Go to shows. Go to places like Lunchbox [Records] and buy albums — Manifest [Records] and Repo [Records]. Go to Spotify and buy the bands’ music or become their followers, which doesn’t cost you anything — you can follow them for free.

On the City of Charlotte:

Charlotte’s almost like the Forrest Gump of cities, because Charlotte’s always right there, but not right in it.

On doing pretty much everything you can do in a band:

I think it all goes back to being little and I just kind of liked to do all the stuff.[For example,] I’d make a book, and I’d want to write the book, illustrate the book and sell the book. It’s just what I do. I don’t think it’s all that.

Music featured in this #WFAEAmplifier chat:

Fetchin’ Bones – “Brilliant”
Fetchin’ Bones – “A Fable”
Sugarsmack – “Boomerang”
Snagglepuss – “Vuvuzela (The Banktown Anthem)”
It’s Snakes – “Dance Party with Cats”

Stay Connected:

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Click here to discover your next favorite Charlotte musician on our Amplifier Spotify playlist. Like what you hear? Let us know on social media!

Chat with Joni Deutsch and tag WFAE on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Joni Deutsch is happy to call Charlotte home as WFAE's manager for on-demand content and audience engagement, where she's led the first Charlotte Podcast Festival (named one of the “best podcast conferences” by Buzzsprout) and helped produce such podcasts as FAQ City, SouthBound, Inside Politics, Work It and the Apple Podcast chart-topping series She Says. In addition to being an NPR Music contributor, Joni is also the creator and host of WFAE’s Charlotte music podcast Amplifier, named “Best Podcast” by Charlotte Magazine and honored for excellence in arts and music podcasting by the local Edward R. Murrow Awards and The Webby Awards (called “The Internet’s Highest Honor” by The New York Times).