Singer-songwriter Nikki Orrick takes her career to the next level

“I have been singing my whole life, my dad is a musician so I grew up with music all around me. I started songwriting [in seventh grade] and realized I really liked it and wished I could do it all the time. I found I liked [music] a lot more than I like academics,” senior Nikki Orrick, a student in Advanced Performance Workshop and future student at Berklee College of Music said.

Orrick has always had a love for music, especially writing her own. Starting at the age of 12, she began creating her own songs, a diligent process of formulating melodies and combining them with lyrics to summon something original and unique. Little did seventh-grade Orrick know, she would be graduating her senior year of high school commited to one of the top music colleges in the country, majoring in songwriting. 

Orrick performs at the Advanced Performance workshop fall concert accompanied by junior Aidan Thompson on the guitar. Photo courtesy of Sol Ladetzky.

Although Orrick has always loved music and has practiced from a young age, she did not participate in Redwood’s music program, Advanced Performance Workshop (APW) until her senior year. Instead, she focused on her role in the drama department during her first three years of high school because she liked the community and the performance opportunities it provided. 

Orrick is extremely grateful she joined the APW class this past year–according to her, it has taught her important lessons as a musician, as well as a person. She also credits APW for her strong sense of musicality.  

“Everyone [in APW] loves music and is there for a reason; they wouldn’t choose to go through all this work if they didn’t love it,” Orrick said. “It gives you the chance to experience playing with your peers and getting to know people in a different way than you usually would in high school.”

Sophomore and fellow APW student Charlie Freiburger has been friends with Orrick for the duration of her senior year and greatly appreciates her presence in class. Freiburger also performed alongside Orrick for Kent Middle School concert this past December.

“In an APW class setting, [Orrick] is at her best. Everybody loves her, and she gets along with everybody. It’s where she belongs,” Freiburger said.  

APW teacher John Mattern is excited for Orrick to continue her musical journey in college, but is sad to see her go, as she was a talented musician who was dedicated to the class. 

“She is totally present, unbelievably coachable and has one of the greatest attitudes. She is so fun to teach, and I am going to miss her a lot,” Mattern said. “She is very talented and has this effervescence about her that is wonderful. She is an inspiration.”

Orrick hits her note as she performs in her fall APW concert. Photo courtesy of Sol Ladetzky.

Despite Orrick’s love of music, she was not fully committed to the idea of going to a music school or even studying a music related major until she received admission into Berklee. She had been told by others that a musical career held many uncertainties and that applying to schools with the intention of studying music would not be easy.

“For most of the schools I was applying to, I was going to major in anthropology, environmental studies or humanities. When you decide that you want to pursue an art, people always say ‘Oh, that’s very risky.’ You start to doubt [studying art] a lot, and you try to convince yourself that you don’t want to. So I just applied to Berklee with the idea of ‘Well, if they want me, then maybe I am good enough to pursue [music],’” Orrick said. 

Once committed to Berklee, deciding to major in songwriting was easy for Orrick, as she knew she wanted to continue to improve her skills in that area of music. Furthermore, under the songwriting major, she would also be encouraged to perform her original songs in front of live audiences, something that greatly appealed to her. Orrick has always had an admiration for songwriting, because it conveys messages that are not easy to communicate otherwise. 

“It’s amazing how there are certain things that are either really hard to talk about in conversation form or to describe, but somehow makes so much more sense when it is described musically,” Orrick said. “You are able to describe things that are indescribable through a chord progression or by layering sounds and harmonies. It takes you to a different place mentally, which I love.”

Mattern is proud of Orrick’s improvement in songwriting and is thrilled he is able to listen to her original work as well as help her in the process of creating songs. 

“She is writing more now, and I am just beginning to hear her originals. We just worked on an original song. She is not someone to brag about her abilities and her accomplishments, but she’s had a lot and she has done a lot of stuff musically. She is just so talented,” Mattern said. 

Although there are endless possibilities for Orrick’s future, as of right now, she hopes she will be able to stay involved in the world of music throughout college and beyond. 

“I would hope to be some sort of songwriter. I don’t really want to be in the spotlight. I think my goal is to just make music that people will like and listen to. If that is happening, then that’s all I want,” Orrick said.


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