Niki Dawson: “Do what you love, and love what you do”

Do what you love, and love what you do. Even though this one is pretty self explanatory, I think it’s still so relevant. Whether it’s something you do to start or end your day with, or the way you make a living. Just do what gives you life! Self expression & connection keeps us going throughout […]

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Do what you love, and love what you do.

Even though this one is pretty self explanatory, I think it’s still so relevant. Whether it’s something you do to start or end your day with, or the way you make a living. Just do what gives you life! Self expression & connection keeps us going throughout our limited daily schedules. So, why not spend time incorporating the things you love into your daily life.

As part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewin Niki Dawson, an aspiring singer and songwriter based out of Florida. Making her TV debut to the world at 19-years-old on NBC’s singing show ‘The Voice’ (Season 1), Niki was chosen by judges for her jazz-influenced approach to pop songs. She later went on to win an episode on MTV’s singing show pilot ‘Copycat’ in 2014, and also appeared on American Idol’s (Season XV) on FOX in 2016.

In the summer of 2016, Niki mysteriously lost motor function on the right side of her body, which affected her ability to walk, sing, and create like her normal self. She discovered she had Multiple Sclerosis. In June 2017, Niki was released from an Intensive Care Unit after surviving a life threatening skin reaction called Steven-Johnson’s Syndrome. Although these ailments paused her ability to create new music, she’s been overcoming those conditions with producing & writing her raw emotions under R&B, Alt-Jazz, & Hip-hop influences.

Her latest single ‘Lonely Wolf’ shows her transformation through the years from making it on TV, taking her shots to become a musical idol, and her growth as an adult staying her authentic self.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Well, I grew up as a military brat, so I spent most of my time moving where we were stationed growing up. My mother is a singer and my dad always played me his jazz records which was a huge influence on me.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was sitting on this sofa in the student lounge my freshman year in college and just felt like I was supposed to be doing something else other than being a full-time student. I previously had auditioned for shows when I was much younger, so I wondered where I could have been if I reinvested my time and effort into my singing career.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The most interesting time was performing with the muppets in Las Vegas. Besides being a fan of the crew, It was such a incredible experience that you just can’t ever forget haha

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Oh, I’m still quite clumsy! I remember this one audition when I was sixteen. The producers enjoyed my first song and asked me to sing another. And I just went blank! One of the producers asked me “You can’t think of just one song to sing us? Like just sing us anything.” And I had nothing and just kept nervously apologizing and giggling. I learned to always come prepared with more than two songs, monologues, or whatever I’m presenting in these auditions. I’ve learned to try and highlight my strengths and bring some variety within that.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Right now I am working on a few music videos along with a new EP. I’m super excited about it because the EP consists of a live performance from last Halloween, which also happens to be my favorite holiday. Additionally, I’m launching an apparel line this year which embodies my alternative-punk self and authenticity in my music. I can’t wait to share all these things I’ve been curating.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Diversity isn’t just valuable because of the art of representation, I think it is also a critical stepping stone in expanding beauty standards in the film and television industry. More importantly, diversity in roles shouldn’t be limited to typecasting persons-of-color in roles that are exaggerations of stereotypes. Diversity will always be the untapped bloodline of the entertainment industry because it allows an ever-growing scope of people to identify, connect, and become fans of a curator’s work.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1. No one is responsible for protecting your dreams, except you.

I learned that when you’re just starting out, you may want to share your ideas for support. And how easy our helpful friends or family’s input can alter our vision. It’s great to share, but it’s more important for the creator to protect the essence & the purpose of their ideas while collaborating and expanding their business.

2. Tackle big goals in smaller doses.

Sometimes our goals can be so big, that the thought of how to accomplish them can become intimidating. I learned how carving out time per day along with tasking smaller steps each day, led to more completed goals of mine. It’s your dream, and it’s also your timeline. Do you!

3. Do what you love, and love what you do.

Even though this one is pretty self explanatory, I think it’s still so relevant. Whether it’s something you do to start or end your day with, or the way you make a living. Just do what gives you life! Self expression & connection keeps us going throughout our limited daily schedules. So, why not spend time incorporating the things you love into your daily life.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and for help.

As a person that likes to independently handle things, this one was a big one for me to implement at first.

The sooner I became accustomed to asking for help, my options expanded along with meeting great people that I ended up working with in the future. You never know who has the answer to your hang-up, and who can help you reach your goals.

5. Surround yourself with uplifting entrepreneurs.

I’ve learned that there is nothing more innovative than being around an entrepreneur. A business owner’s mindset is crucial in developing a company’s culture. Like a community minded entrepreneur could possibly be more insightful vs a ‘pyramid scheme’ business person’s mindset. Being around owners that support other businesses for example will aid in fostering fellow owner’s expansion in clientele and company collaborations. Basically, we can all win in the right environment!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

As rigorous as your daily schedule may be, plan out a bit of time during the workday to reset by stepping outside & getting a chance to slow down and take in your surroundings. My favorite thing to do is just close your laptop and go sit and meditate. Basically, do something that lightens your mood! Carving out an hour of time for myself has really helped me rebalance and feel refreshed when I’m constantly working.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could start a movement I’d be interested in normalizing loving people through healthy boundaries. Something that I think many of us struggle on this journey of defining ourselves as we yearn for acceptance.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Oh, I’m beyond thankful for my mom! She has always been so supportive since I started standing in all those audition lines for hours. I’m still in awe of all of the sacrifices made so I could follow my dreams. It has always given me motivation to not allow all that she’s given to be in vain. I strive to make my mom proud of what she brought into the world.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’ll paraphrase a saying that has stuck with me over the years, “never make decisions about your life based on other’s opinions. “ And I always find that saying to rain so relevant in my life. Because even people who mean you well, have their own subconscious fears that can unintentionally put you on an inauthentic life path.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I think I’d love to have lunch with Erykah Badu !!! I mean I think any soulful music lover or songwriter can respect the queen and I would want to just connect with her dope aura and just vibe. haha

How can our readers follow you online?

They can follow me on Instagram @nikitheninja and on Facebook/Twitter @nikidawson

All of my other linked works and future projects can be found on my website at

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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