Host Spotlight: Ni Maxine

Host Spotlight: an opportunity to shine a light on our wonderful radio hosts and wider community, be it a new music release, a brand new music residency or simply to champion them as an individual. This week, we chat with neo-jazz singer/songwriter Ni Maxine ahead of her second radio show on Melodic Distraction, which combines jazz selections with live vocals! 

With a sense of duty to reflect the times, Ni Maxine presents the story of a black woman navigating today’s world. Writing for change, her upcoming body of music explores themes of home, identity, self-esteem and belonging: “sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era – I want to listen to Ella Fitzgerald and Betty Carter, so that’s what I play when I’m on the airwaves and I can’t help but sing along!”

Growing up on MTV Base and cassette mixtapes made by her mum, Ni listened to everything from gospel and rare grooves through to funk and R&B from a young age. From writing songs in the car with her brother and sister, drumming on the back of headrests beatboxing and singing, through to listening to the likes of Herbie Hancock and Fela Kuti on Jazz FM, Ni’s real passion for jazz came from ‘Ella Fitzgerald sings The Irving Berlin Songbook’ CD: “I studied the lyric book religiously while I played it through the sound system at home. She was my first inspiration, really – I remember singing ‘Every Time We Say Goodbye’ once at a showcase; I was young but I remember being able to tap into something within, which is such a huge part of jazz. It’s the feeling. It comes from within.” 

Ni is also hugely influenced by the courage, stories and songs of Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, a reminder of our purpose here on earth: “I went through a period in my life where I didn’t allow myself to ‘feel’ anything because I was experiencing so much pain but I have learned, through therapy and songwriting, that ‘Feeling Is Healing’. I want to encourage everyone to tap into the emotions that they experience, even the really scary ones, because you can’t heal if you don’t feel!”

Following a delightful debut show on the station, Ni Maxine returns to our airwaves for ‘an hour or so of me singing along to my favourite songs. I like to pretend I’m on stage, singing in harmony with my favourite artists, some of whom are no longer with us. If I could bring back Amy Winehouse, I would!’

Join us live for Ni Maxine today at 3pm. On 29th July you can also watch Ni’s Sound City ‘Guesthouse Presents’ show, filmed at Grand Central, online. Give her a follow below to stay up to date!