NIKKI LYNETTE is a performer, writer, and visual artist whose individual style is equal parts hip hop, alternative, and pop. A Chicago native, she fuses mental health activism into her performances and has created a lane for her music that is uniquely her own. A proud independent artist, her self-produced tunes are currently featured in popular shows on Netflix, Hulu, Showtime and more. Lynette’s success in music licensing has earned its own accolades, including a prominent feature in Billboard Magazine and being invited to speak on a panel at South By Southwest. After a hiatus from releasing new music, Nikki Lynette returned to the public eye with a confession: she’d secretly been battling mental health issues. She began writing articles about depression and suicide for prominent sites like BlackDoctor, Afropunk and AllHipHop. A newly appointed ambassador for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Nikki’s mental health documentary Happy Songs About Unhappy Things is also currently in production. Nikki has opened for Lion Babe and Leikeli47, and recently in Chicago, headlined her own sold-out show in the Foundation Room at the House of Blues. After a sold-out run in Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s LookOut Series, Nikki’s autobiographical musical Get Out Alive was in conversation with multiple theaters to produce an extended run of the play. However, COVID-19 put those plans on hold… As a result, Get Out Alive has been reimagined for the internet. The release date for the project has not yet been set.

I didn’t wanna do music no more. I mean, I kinda wanted to, but I thought it would be too hard to start over. You spend hella time out the game and everything changes. What I wanted was to not be here. I would wake up and be disappointed that I was awake, and just lay there for an hour before I could get outta bed. I spent a lot of time in bed. I only pushed myself to get better because of my momma. She was sick, and she needed me. So I pushed myself. I didn’t have hella support, because the stigma around mental health leaves a lot of room for lack of understanding, a lot of room for judgement, a lot of room for shame.

I realize now that my music career, by itself, is not enough of a motivator for me no more. I am motivated by people. Particularly people whose needs are underrepresented. Right now my inspiration is coming primarily from the battles I have fought, the ones I am still fighting, and the people who are fighting those battles with me. I think I have accomplished a lot of stuff that I can be proud of, but nothing makes me more proud than this. Until the mental health conversation is being had in a way that appeals to all the people who suffering, we ain’t gonna see no change. That don’t work for me. So I’m gonna do it.