Nikki McKibbin

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Nikki McKibbin
Birth nameKatherine Nicole McKibbin
Born(1978-09-28)September 28, 1978
Grand Prairie, Texas, U.S.
DiedNovember 1, 2020(2020-11-01) (aged 42)
Arlington, Texas, U.S.
Years active2002–2020
LabelsDown Boys, Chenoa, Astral, RCA
Associated actsLove Stricken Demise, Rivethead, Downside

Katherine Nicole McKibbin (September 28, 1978 – November 1, 2020)[1] was an American rock music singer-songwriter who finished third in the debut season of the reality television series American Idol. Prior to American Idol, McKibbin appeared in the first season of Popstars. In May 2007, she released a rock album called Unleashed.

American Idol[edit]

In 2002, McKibbin appeared on the first season of American Idol, placing third. With the exception of 1960s Week, McKibbin was in the bottom three every week, a total of six times (including elimination).

Songs performed by Nikki McKibbin for American Idol
Round Song choice Original artist Theme Result
Audition N/A Advanced
Pasadena audition "Unchained Melody" The Righteous Brothers N/A Advanced
Semi-final "Total Eclipse of the Heart" Bonnie Tyler N/A Advanced
Top 10 "Ben" Michael Jackson Motown Bottom 3
Top 8 "Piece of My Heart" Janis Joplin The 1960s Safe
Top 7 "Heartbreaker" Pat Benatar The 1970s Bottom 3
Top 6 "Hard Hearted Hannah (The Vamp of Savannah)" Ella Fitzgerald Big Band Bottom 3
Top 5 "(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me" Lou Johnson Burt Bacharach Bottom 2
Top 4
  • The 1980s
  • The 1990s
Bottom 2
Top 3 Judges' Choice Eliminated

Post-Idol career[edit]

Immediately following her stint on American Idol, McKibbin signed with 19 Management and RCA Records. They urged her to record a country album, but she was determined to stay true to her rock roots; she rejected the idea, saying she felt she would be "selling out." The creative differences resulted in no releasable recordings being produced.[2]

McKibbin ran Angelfire Productions, a karaoke company, but after Idol, "got out of the karaoke business" to focus on her music career.[3]

In 2004, she appeared on the holiday CD Christmas in a Fishbowl with several other reality stars for[4]

In May 2005, McKibbin joined Dallas rock band Downside. They did several shows together including a sold-out show at the Hard Rock Cafe in Dallas, but McKibbin left the band in September of the same year due to creative and personal differences.[5]

In 2005, McKibbin appeared in several reality shows, including a "Reality TV Stars" episode of Fear Factor, and the sports competition show Battle of the Network Reality Stars, in which her team won. She also appeared in the E! Entertainment reality show Kill Reality, which documented the filming of The Scorned, a television movie featuring a cast of people who had been on reality television shows; McKibbin played a singer in the film.

Later in 2005, it was announced that she was signed to Australian indie label Astral Records, with her rock-influenced album originally intended to be released in February 2006.[citation needed] Recording began in December 2005, starting with a cover version of Mr. Big's "To Be with You". A single of "The Lie"/"To Be with You" and a limited edition behind-the-scenes DVD was made available through her official web site.

McKibbin's debut album Unleashed came out May 22, 2007. For the promotional 2007 tour, McKibbin worked with Texas heavy metal band Rivethead.[6]

Late in 2007, McKibbin recorded two Christmas songs for the American Christmas album. One was a cover of "All I Want for Christmas Is You" by Vince Vance and the Valiants and the other was an original, "Alone With The Christmas Lights."

In 2008, McKibbin appeared on the second season of the VH1 reality show Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, in which she received treatment for cocaine and alcohol addiction at the Pasadena Recovery Center (PRC).[7][8] While receiving a physical examination from Dr. Drew Pinsky in the season's first episode, she revealed that she was sexually, physically and emotionally abused as a child. On top of that, she also lost her mother to addiction the previous year. Pinsky noticed signs of hepatomegaly during the examination, most likely caused by her alcoholism. She said that she was on prescription ziprasidone and dextro-methamphetamine to reduce her anxiety, but Pinsky told her that it was unwise for a serious addict to be on such powerful medications. Her withdrawal was painful, and the day after she was taken off her medications she experienced the lethargy of withdrawal syndrome.

After McKibbin completed the program at the PRC, she moved into a sober living environment, which was filmed for the Celebrity Rehab spinoff Sober House.[9] During a group night out for McKibbin and her fellow sober living housemates, which fell on the anniversary of her mother's death the previous year, she gave her first-ever performance while sober, singing her song, "Inconsolable".[10]

McKibbin later appeared in the fifth episode of Celebrity Rehab's fifth season, during which she marked three years of sobriety, and performed for that season's cast.[11]

In 2011, McKibbin formed a new band called Love Stricken Demise. The band released an EP in 2012 called Psychotrip which included their single "Celebrity High".

In 2014, McKibbin was seen accompanying her son Tristan on the thirteenth season of American Idol during his audition, where he made it to Hollywood, but was ultimately cut before the live shows.[12]

McKibbin used to give vocal and performance lessons for children in Fort Worth, Texas.[13]

Personal life[edit]

McKibbin was born in Grand Prairie, Texas. She was married to Craig Sadler. She had a son, Tristen Cole Langley, (b. December 20, 1997), from a previous relationship. Her husband, Craig, appeared with her on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.[14]

McKibbin marked a year of sobriety on June 10, 2009.[15]


On October 31, 2020, McKibbin was taken off life support after suffering from a brain aneurysm on October 28.[16] She is the fourth American Idol finalist to die after Michael Johns in 2014, Rickey Smith in 2016, and Leah LaBelle in 2018.




Original Track Listing[edit]

1."The Lie"3:51
2."Cry Little Sister"3:22
4."Naked Inside"3:20
5."If I Was a Boy"3:27
8."Save Whats Left of Me"3:20
9."To Be with You"3:15

2020 Re-Issue Track Listing[edit]

1."The Lie"3:51
2."Cry Little Sister"3:18
4."Naked Inside"3:20
5."Save Whats Left of Me"3:23
7."It Matters to Me"3:45
9."If I Was a Boy"3:29
10."To Be with You"3:17
12."Made It (ft. The League)"4:20


Track listing[edit]

  • Billy Blair
  • Nikki McKibbin
2."Celebrity High"
  • Blair
  • McKibbin
3."This Life"
  • Blair
  • McKibbin
4."Love and Hate"
  • Blair
  • McKibbin


Year Single Album/EP
2006 "To Be with You" Unleashed
"The Lie"
2007 "Electrik"
2008 "Here to There" Non-album single
2009 "Inconsolable"
2011 "Made It" (with The League)
"Celebrity High" (with Love Stricken Demise) Psychotrip

Compilation appearances[edit]

Year Track Album
2002 "Piece of My Heart" American Idol: Greatest Moments
"California Dreamin'" (Ensemble)
2004 "Jingle Bells 2.0" Christmas in a Fishbowl
"Deck the Halls" (with Toni Ferrari)
"I Wish You a Merry Christmas" (with JD Adams)
"O Come, All Ye Faithful"
2008 "Alone With The Christmas Lights" American Christmas
2010 "All I Want for Christmas Is You" American Christmas 2
"To Be with You" I Saw You On TV - Reality TV Stars, Vol. 1

Music videos[edit]

Year Video
2006 "The Lie"
2011 "Celebrity High"


  1. ^ "'American Idol' Contestant Nikki McKibbin Dead at 42". TMZ. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  2. ^ "Nikki McKibbin: At-home mom still bad to the bone".
  3. ^ Sery, Gil; "“I’m More Than Just A Singer”: An Interview with American Idol’s Nikki McKibbin" Archived 2007-04-04 at the Wayback Machine;; December 1, 2005
  4. ^ "In Santa's Bag, Songs That'll Sleigh You – or Not (". Retrieved 2017-01-24.
  5. ^ Kaufman, Gil (October 17, 2008). "'American Idol' Alum Nikki McKibbin Says Simon Cowell Drove Her To Drink, Drugs". MTV News. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  6. ^ ""Rivethead teams up with Idol Nikki McKibbin";; April 2, 2007". Archived from the original on April 26, 2007.
  7. ^ ""Celebs check into Celebrity Rehab 2";". Archived from the original on June 13, 2008.
  8. ^ TV Guide; June 23, 2008; Page 8
  9. ^ "Sober House Will Follow Celebrity Rehab Cast, Andy Dick in Sober Living". Reality Blurred. December 19, 2008
  10. ^ Sober House. VH1. March 5, 2009. No. 8, season 1.
  11. ^ "Family Weekend". Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Season 5. Episode 6. July 31, 2011. VH1.
  12. ^ Angermiller, Michele Amabile. "American Idol Hollywood Week Kicks Off With Nikki McKibbin, Son Tristen Langley (Video)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017-01-24.
  13. ^ "Nikki McKibbin, 'American Idol' Season 1 Finalist, Dies at 42". Yahoo!. 1 November 2020.
  14. ^ Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew Episode 2.6 VH1; November 27, 2008
  15. ^ Norris, Chris (December 30, 2009). "Hitting Bottom".
  16. ^ Cordero, Rosy (November 2, 2020). "Nikki McKibbin, American Idol contestant, dies at 42". Entertainment Weekly.

External links[edit]