In penning the eponymous single for her third album Gold, Britt Nicole drew inspiration from some of the deeply devoted fans she’s amassed over the years. “I’d gotten lots of letters telling me, ‘I’m struggling, I’m being bullied, I don’t feel like I fit in,’” says the newest pop singer/songwriter signed to Capitol Records. To reach out to her followers—and send a potent yet joyful message of self-worth to her fans-Britt created the song “Gold,” a slick and shimmering self-empowerment anthem that pairs emotionally charged lyrics with an instantly catchy melody. Now a fan favorite that prompted countless concert-goers to turn up wearing “Gold”-referencing crowns on her recent headlining tour, the song marks a significant next step for Britt and signals her emergence as a pop phenom of uncommon substance and soul.
“When I write songs, I just write whatever’s in my heart,” says Britt, who co-wrote each of the album’s tracks. But while she didn’t intentionally push her Capitol Records album Gold (due out February 26, 2013) into a more pop direction than her sophomore effort The Lost Get Found (a 2009 release that debuted on the Top 100 Billboard Chart), she did realize early on that its highly danceable, hook-laced songs would likely have a broad appeal. “A lot of times I’m writing about what I’m personally going through,” she says, “and if I’m facing these sorts of things, then there’s got to be other people dealing with them too.”
Produced by Britt’s longtime collaborator Dan Muckala along with producers Chris Stevens, David Garcia and Josh Crosby, Gold merges her passionately thoughtful lyrics with infectious beats and soaring melodies. Also showcasing her masterful vocals and remarkable range, Gold has no shortage of songs that match the tender intensity of its title track. The sweeping, slow-building “All This Time,” for instance, recounts Britt’s struggle to overcome the pain of her parents’ divorce, while “Stand” blends high-powered beats with sweetly inspirational lyrics about rediscovering your strength. On “Ready or Not” (an ode to self-expression and “just bringing love to people and not holding back who I am,” according to Britt), sunny acoustic strumming gets elegantly layered over stomping rhythms and in-your-face electro effects. And with its throbbing groove, sleek synth, and celebratory lyrics, “Amazing Life” fast proves to be a dance-pop powerhouse.
Whether delivering a soulful ballad or a beat-soaked dance track, Britt strikes a stunning balance between vulnerability and self-assurance all throughout Gold. Not only evidence of her gift for crafting intensely relatable lyrics, that emotional complexity is a testament to her strength and honesty as a songwriter. “I write songs to myself, and it’s always great to see them connect with other people who need to be reminded that worth doesn’t come from having all the right things or from success—it’s about being who you are,” she says.
For Britt, the journey to her own success began as a child growing up in Salisbury, North Carolina singing in the church choir for nearly her entire life. After high school Britt chose to forgo college in favor of dedicating herself to her music full-time. She released a pair of independent records in the two years following high school and then—at age 19—moved to Nashville to further pursue her singing/songwriting career. Soon after arriving in Nashville and showcasing her early collection of pop songs, Britt landed a record deal and ended up releasing her debut album Say It for EMI by the time she was 21.
With her career continuing to flourish over the last few years, Britt has made a point of maintaining a close connection to her beloved supporters. “After shows I always go and hang out with my fans, talk to them and get to know them,” she says. “I try to take as much time as I can with them, people really want to share their stories.” Noting that her fans “know they can be honest with me because I’m honest with them,” Britt points out that those stories also play a key part in helping to shape songs like “Gold.” “A lot of girls come up to me with their heads down, and I can just tell that they’re feeling broken,” she says. “I love that they can come into the show feeling one way, and then leave feeling like there’s hope.”
To foster that feeling of hope on a grander scale, Britt has extended the self-esteem-raising sentiment behind “Gold” to the song’s powerful video. Featuring a cast of characters dealing with issues common among today’s teens (such as eating disorders and self-mutilation), the “Gold” video aims to uplift and inspire. While many have made the connection of “Gold” as an anti-bullying theme, Britt is intent on not focusing on the bullies. “There are probably always going to be people who feel the need to hurt someone else because of their own insecurity,” acknowledges Britt. “But the message of ‘Gold’ is to remind those kids that are struggling that no matter what they have been told they are worth so much more than the words of another. Once you know that, no one can ever steal your shine,” she says of the intent behind “Gold.”
As she reaches an ever-widening audience, Britt aspires to stay focused on creating music that’s both genuine and empowering. “Whether it’s pop or rock or hip-hop, what moves me most is music that’s passionate, real and comes from artists who really believe in what they’re putting out into the world,” says Britt, who is inspired not only by their hit songs but by the authenticity of artists like Adele, Mary J. Blige, Taylor Swift and Coldplay. “And with a song like ‘Gold,’ I’m putting out a message that everyone needs to hear, regardless of where they’re coming from. It’s about knowing that you’re loved, that you’re worth something. It’s a message of hope.”
“All This Time”