South Florida’s own jazz sensation Nicole Henry will share her vocal and modeling talents at the Venetian Arts Society’s Up Close & Personal event at NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, 1 East Las Olas Blvd. The event is being held in conjunction with “The Movement: Bob Adelman and Civil Rights Era Photography.”
On April 24 starting at 7:30 p.m., Henry gives a salon concert in the Horvitz Auditorium, followed by a Champagne social in the museum’s main lobby. Henry will wear custom evening gowns by Marcello Vittoria Maison du Couture.
Henry will return the next morning, April 25, 10 a.m. – noon, for “A Conversation with the Artist,” a master class, interview and Q&A, hosted by television personality Julia Yarbrough. The class will feature local college and high school students, as well as professional singers.
Since her debut in 2004, Henry has established herself as one of the jazz world’s most acclaimed vocalists, possessing a potent combination of dynamic vocal abilities, impeccable phrasing and powerful emotional resonance.
She received a 2013 Soul Train Award for Best Traditional Jazz Performance.
Her 2004 debut CD release, The Nearness of You, won considerable attention from audiences and critics in the U.S. and in Japan, where they named her Best New Jazz Artist of 2004. The following year, Henry’s Teach Me Tonight reached No.1 in Japan and was named HMV Japan’s Best Vocal Jazz Album of 2005. Then, in 2008, The Very Thought of You substantially expanded her American audience, reaching No. 7 on Billboard’s jazz chart.
The 2011 release of the Embraceable CD was a creative triumph for Henry as it expanded her recordings beyond those of the American Songbook jazz standards which had been her focus up until that time. Embraceable included more originals, soul and even a touch of gospel, and reached the Top 20 on jazz and smooth U.S. jazz radio charts. Joining Henry on Embraceable was jazz artists including Kirk Whalum, Gerald Clayton, John Stoddart, Julian Lage, Gil Goldstein, Larry Grenadier and Eric Harland.
Her 2013 release, SO GOOD, SO RIGHT: Nicole Henry Live was recorded at Feinstein’s in New York City in May 2012. The 13-track album showcases her renditions of classic hits of the ‘70s from iconic artists including Bill Withers, Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, The Commodores and Gladys Knight.
South Florida Times caught up with Nicole Henry and discussed her rising career and heard her thoughts on the jazz music landscape in South Florida.
South Florida Times: When did you get serious about being a jazz music performer?
Henry: I decided on a full-time singing and acting career in 2000. I booked my first steady singing ‘gig’ in mid-2001 as a guitar/vocal duo with my friend Lou Duvin. It was that fall of 2001 that I discovered jazz as a genre and fell in love with it. Early January 2002 I decided to learn enough jazz music to then perform my first full evening of jazz in April 2002. I was off to the races… .
South Florida Times: How does it feel to be likened to ‘a young Sarah Vaughn’?
Henry: Pretty incredible. And perhaps just as incredible to be likened to Whitney Houston as well. I love Sarah Vaughan’s phrasing and song selections. I appreciated her entire career and her life-long span of success. In fact, my new show I am debuting in New York City at Jazz at Lincoln Center April 22 specifically features music from Ms. Vaughan. I will sing some of that music at the Venetian Arts concert as well.
South Florida Times: Did you leave South Florida after the University of Miami? If not, why did you stay?
Henry: No, I stayed in South Florida. I wanted to build a foundation in my music career, and before I knew it 12 years passed and I’m still in beautiful Miami Beach. It’s a wonderful place to find myself. However, I place a heavy emphasis on touring, particularly creating appearances in New York. I’ve headlined concerts in over 17 cities, and enjoy flying back to the ocean and palm trees.
South Florida Times: You are modeling a dress during the performance at NSU Museum of Art, how does that make you feel?
Henry: I’m being used as a model? I, a model citizen? Model entertainer? A model human? I’d love to be considered a model. Plus, the dress Cello designed for me is fabulous, so I’m excited to present his art and mine together.
South Florida Times: Who are South Florida artists that are doing great things, in your opinion?
Henry: Oh wow. There’s a huge list of great South Florida artist who are doing great things locally and internationally. We really have world-class talent here; it’s unfortunate we don’t have a firmly established culture of supporting music venues. But that’s not to say the efforts aren’t out there … . Venetian Arts is a wonderful example of productions and promotions on behalf music and art.
Off the top of my head: Leesa Richards, Carlo Magna Araya, Jean Caz, Karina Iglesias, Jim Gaisor, Jon Saxx, Aaron Lebos, Melton Mustafa, Dave Chiverton, Pete Wallace, Doug Emery. Honestly, almost every musician I know is running their own multi-faceted business and making things happen for themselves in their career. It’s not like they just play at night and sit around all day. We have to create everything you see, so if musicians are making a living and sharing music or teaching, to me, that’s a great thing!
South Florida Times: What is/was the highlight of your career?
Henry: Winning the 2013 Soul Train Award for “Best Traditional Jazz Performance”… and being selected over such legendary greats as George Benson, Tony Bennett, Chaka Khan and Terrence Blanchard. That was an incredible personal achievement.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Salon Concert
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. April 24
WHERE: Horvitz Auditorium at NSU Museum of Art, 1East Las Olas Blvd.
WHAT: A Conversation with Nicole Henry
WHEN: 10 a.m. – noon April 25
WHERE: Horvitz Auditorium at Museum of Art
INFORMATION: VenetianArtsSociety.org or call Willie Riddle at 954-709-7447 email Willie@VenetianArtsSociety.org