What are the chances of a born and bred Midwestern female from a midwestern family becoming a reggae dancehall deejay? Pretty slim! But the story of Zerby is nothing short of sensational. With a lot of guts, determination and talent, she defied the odds and has proven that she can “lick a mic” just as well as a Jamaican yardie. She threw herself into a world of the unknown and learned the know-how, survived, and has become the next female deejay sensation.
Nicole Williams was born in Ludington, Michigan. She spent all of her childhood in a town called Hudsonville. While she growing up there, she learned how to master many musical instruments including the piano, trumpet and bass guitar.
While she was attending Central Michigan University as a music major, she met up with the “Ark” band, who she went out on the road with as their new found member. “I linked up with them one night and played all the horn lines with their trombone player”, she explains. “They had a trombone player and a sax player, so they needed a trumpet player. They then asked me to go on the road with them and I accepted. I didn’t want to sit in school; I wanted to travel around. When you sit in the same place for long time you eventually want to leave. You want to see everything else.” So that she did. Nicole moved with the “Ark” band to Columbus, Ohio, and found herself traveling all over the midwest and south as the trumpet player for the band. But because of artistical differences between rival siblings that continuously tormented the band, Nicole decided to leave.
Soon after the split-up, she met the “Ark’s” ex-lead singer (before she was a member) Ras Shaggai and decided to help him form a new band entitled, “Liviration.” Her membership lasted three years with the group. During that period several things changed in Nicole’s life. First, she relocated to Youngstown, Ohio. Then “Liviration” recorded their debut E.P. “Liviration Posse”, which was released by the “Conscious Vision” label. After a year of touring the midwest as the band’s keyboard player, “Liviration” decided to pack up and move to St. Croix. “We used to always have to replace musicians,” she states. “They would play well for a month and then they would emulate Jazz or Rock and destroy the whole Reggae groove, so we couldn’t play with them, and we moved to the Caribbean.” In St. Croix, they played many local clubs including the Moonraker in Christiansted, where they performed for a standing room-only crowd every weekend, as well as toured the U.S. and headlined such shows as the one the Detroit State Theater. Later, Nicole decided to venture out to Jamaica and seek out her long awaited love-Dancehall Deejaying.
On her own, with her new found identity ZERBY (which was a coined name give to Nicole by Ras Shaggai) booked her own studio time at the famous Penthouse Studios in Jamaica. She soon linked up with George from the Firehouse Crew and produced her own collaboration tune with DJ Easy Fresh entitled, “Culture Shock.” This was released on the C&G label and was distributed by the Tuff Gong music group. Next to follow was her second single “Mash Up,” which was released on the Firehouse label.
Zerby has worked with many producers such as Sly Dunbar, Steelie and Clevie, and Danny Brownie to name a few. She has performed with several sound systems in Jamaica and received an overwhelming response at Star Wave ‘94, Beach Bash, the Mirage nightclub and Godfathers Night Club in Kingston, Jamaica. She has shared the stage with deejay greats like Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Buju Banton, Spragga Benz and recently has been booked for the great Beres Hammond in May of 2004.