Tonight on America’s Got Talent, a “family band” eponymously called Edgar – featuring the husband-and-wife team of Nikki and Ryan Edgar and Nikki’s 16-year-old daughter, Jaslyn – will try out for the show. Like many TV talent competition hopefuls these days, Nikki is no newcomer to the music business, and some viewers may recognize her.
When new AGT judge and Got Talent franchise creator Simon Cowell speaks with Nikki, age 34, in the exclusive clip above, she alludes to “failed record deals” and specifically to her past as teen Christian music singer Nikki Leonti. Her first album, Shelter Me, reached #7 on the Contemporary Christian chart in 1998. However, when Nikki, a pastor’s daughter, got pregnant shortly after her 18th birthday, the CCM community shunned her – and that part of her career was apparently over.
What Nikki doesn’t mention to Cowell and the rest of the judges, however, is her background as a Nashville-based background singer for artists like Carrie Underwood, or her past as one half of the retro neo-soul duo Nikki & Rich. Nikki & Rich released one album for Reprise Records in 2011, but despite some early buzz and critical acclaim, they never totally took off. Shortly after Nikki & Rich confirmed their split in January 2015, Nikki announced that she had founded the band Edgar with her new husband, whom she married in November 2014.
Tonight, Edgar audition with a cover of the Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand by You,” and from the looks of the reaction here, it’s likely they’ll make it through to Las Vegas and even all the way to the live shows. From CCM to R&B to AGT, we’ll see if this moment is the beginning of a career rebirth for Nikki Leonti-Edgar.
Bonus clip: Below, check out Nikki and Ryan Edgar sharing the stage with the late, great Prince during his unannounced appearance the the W Hotel in Los Angeles in 2014!