We caught up with singer Nicole Frechette after a whirlwind tour abroad as she prepares to write her second album. Be the first to hear a demo of her new song, "Old Dirt Road."
A. Book a gig. B. Hire a band. C. Get people to come.
It seems like a simple recipe for success, but a little more than five years ago, singer Nicole Frechette ’06 hadn’t crossed out any of the steps on her list.
Fast forward to 2012 and Frechette has not only conquered A through C dozens of times, but also has built her name as a rising star in the country pop circuit – making the trek from her home in Madison, Conn., to Nashville, Tenn., as often as possible.
Her most recent trip to the capital of country music in January felt different though, she explained, as if all of the puzzle pieces were finally coming together.
This time, 26-year-old Frechette arrived to find hosts of people eager to help her market her brand, produce her new album and mentor her song-writing process.
To those who know the humble songstress, it should come as no surprise that Frechette’s supporters are lining up to see her off to stardom. After all, she’s given them quite a lot to smile about in recent months.
After a friend left to serve in Afghanistan, Frechette was inspired to spend two weeks in July and August performing for American troops at Army bases in Germany and Kosovo.
“I love working with charities and those who deserve support and notoriety,” Frechette says, referring to the international tour as the glue that’s kept her year together. “It’s proof to me that there’s a nice way to do what I want to do, that I don’t have to resent [this lifestyle] ever. There are good ways to do things.”
See pictures from Nicole's tour through Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany
and Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo.
Along with traveling abroad, one of Frechette’s dreams included recording another album – something she hadn’t been able to do since releasing Life Had Other Plans in 2006 – and this time, writing more than half the songs herself.
So she launched a 60-day album campaign on pledgemusic.com, a site that encourages people to pledge money and fund the creation of music. For Frechette, this meant getting as involved with her fans as possible by selling CDs, merchandise, and fan exclusives such as a sit-in with the band during studio sessions and the chance to travel with Frechette on a national tour.
“Let’s make some beautiful music together! I can’t do it without you!” she wrote on her website, signing the personal message the way a best friend would – Nikki, NFresh, nikkifresh.
“I’ve talked to all of my fans at length about what their dreams were and why they support me, and I’m surprised at how willing they are to help,” she says. “They want me to succeed, and I want to be able to offer them something in return, something many of them don’t have the opportunity to do.”
The response was overwhelming and Frechette’s campaign finished at 105 percent, with a portion of the proceeds going to her favorite charity, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Now Frechette gets full artistic rein over her new record, Blonde Ambition – a process that’s both exciting and intimidating for a new writer.
“There’s an element of hesitancy and anxiousness. I need this album to be as good or better than the first,” says Frechette, whose fans have compared her to the likes of Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood.
Luckily, she’s enlisted the support of a talented team of friends – Nashville producer Mark Oliverius and musicians CJ Wilder and Austin Cucuruto – to help her transition from touring to writing and recording, come February.
“I’ve had to be very critical with myself, but I’ve gotten a lot better, as practice will do,” she says, admitting she’s happy with her selection of ballads but is still in search of the perfect single. “I’m very grateful to show people how much I’ve grown as a writer, how I’ve got my footing.”
That’s not to say she’s giving up performing altogether. Just in December, Frechette and her band played for a full house at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun, the same venue where she shared a bill with Lonestar a year ago.
Returning to Nashville with a business mindset, Frechette is excited to add a fourth step to her growing recipe for success – “D. Market the brand” – a skill set she’s proud to have taken with her on the journey from Manhattan College.
“I feel really lucky to be here,” says the ambitious blonde. “I could’ve stopped along the way. Or I can continue, which is exactly what I plan to do.”