Empress Niko & Lion's Paw

  • Genres
  • Reggae
  • Soul
  • World
  • Awards and Nominations
    • SAMMIES 2019 Nominee★ Reggae/Jam ★
  • Musicians
    • Empress Niko aka Nkosazana S. — lyrics, percussion, songwriter, vocals
    • Greg Cox — bass guitar
    • Phil Summers — rhythm guitar
    • Ron Ochoa — drums, percussion
    • Russell Brown — lead guitar
    • Tito Martinez — trombone, trumpet
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Q & A

All-time favorite song?


"Change" by Tracy Chapman.

How do you describe your music to people?


Soulful reggae, roots-heavy but also very lovers-rock, with a touch of ska.

Tell us about how the band formed.


A lot of prayer, playing music and patience in building it step-by-step in the reformation beginning in August of 2016, with the first member of the rhythm section being chosen, our Bassy Greg. He became a cornerstone of our band, and his courageous support allowed me to essentially not give up, and eventually Jah led me to each of the current band mates until we had ourselves a tight rhythm section!

Tell us about your best gig in Sac.


Ace of Spades supporting Ziggy Marley last July! I DJ'd and sang for two hours for a sold-out audience. By the time I was ready to end my set, they were screaming at the top of their lungs and dancing with hands high! Epic show. I've so far worked with Bob's son's Damian and Stephen, as a promoter in Philadelphia for a few of their tours, but hands-down, actually getting to share what I can do, and introduce the crowd to our Lion's Paw tribe through DJing, felt like a huge, huge honor! I had three generations of the women in my family right by my side during Ziggys set. Ace of Spades/Goldfield's sound team! Such an incredible experience working with them!

Tell us about your worst gig.


Hmm... I cant think of one?! They are all special, no matter how big or small the crowd or venue. It's always an honor to sing and share our brotherly, sisterly love that we bring in The Paw. Maybe the show that got cancelled?

What artist or band are you a little embarrassed to love, and why?


Hmm... I'm really into skate rock. Like, really hardcore skate rock. NOFX, McRad, Pearl Jam. At age 12, I had a way-too-big love for Pearl Jam that still cracks up all my oldest friends. They played here to 12 people in '92 at Jerry Perry's Cattle Club!

What was the first song you learned to play?


"Joy to the World" on a tinkertoy keyboard at age 4.

What's next for the band?


Playing outside Sac once inna while,a music video,finally updating the way outta date EPK/ press kit!

What's the story behind the band name?


Empress Niko originally was built in Philadelphia and played in New Jersey, New York City, Delaware, Washington D.C., and more from 2009-2012, before she relocated with her songbook to her hometown of Sacramento in 2012. She reformed the band she built in Philly, only in Sacramento with the added value of more experience and a closer, more tight-knit bunch of musicians making up the California band's membership.

What's your favorite local artist/group?


Paul Willis, DJ Esef, DJ Souljah, Bap Notes, Anna Marie the poet, Sean King the poet, but first up has to be the Reggae singer who taught me so much, Malika Madramana.

Who are your biggest influences?


Bob Marley, Tracy Chapman, Lauryn Hill, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin.

Who first inspired you to play music?


Bob Marley.

Words to live by?


Blessed love everytime!

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