KCC Productions and the Museum of Contemporary Art present Nicole Henry 3/30/12

KCC Productions and the Museum of Contemporary Art present Nicole Henry
Friday, March 30, 8:00 – 9:15 PM
770 NE 125th Street
North Miami

Mike Levine, piano
Aaron Lebos, guitar
Paul Shewchuk, bass
David Chiverton, drums

Although she’s already firmly established as one of the jazz world’s most acclaimed and respected young vocalists, Nicole Henry’s vibrant new album, Embraceable, makes it clear that she can’t be categorized so simply. “I consider myself a singer who loves singing jazz,” notes the versatile Miami Beach-based artist. “However, no matter the style or story, I’m always striving to be myself.”

Henry’s powerfully expressive, emotionally resonant voice has already earned her three international top 10 albums, the most recent being her 2008 release The Very Thought of You. She’s also won an international reputation as a beguiling live performer, enchanting audiences on multiple continents.

The aptly titled Embraceable showcases the uplifting energy, sophisticated soulfulness and lyrical sensitivity that have endeared Henry to listeners around the world. However, the new album is a substantial departure from her prior releases, which established her as a peerless interpreter of jazz and pop standards.

Embraceable’s 12 songs cover a remarkable range of musical and emotional ground, from Henry’s open-hearted reading of the Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil chestnut “Just a Little Lovin'” (originally made famous by Dusty Springfield) to her exotic take on the Brazilian favorite “A Day in the Life of a Fool” to her sultry reworking of Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain” to her intimate voice-and-piano version of Christina Aguilera’s “Save Me from Myself.” Henry also dips back into pop-standard mode to deliver memorable renditions of the 1920s blues standard “Trouble in Mind,” Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Like Someone in Love” and of course “Embraceable You,” with Goldstein’s striking arrangement fusing the Gershwin classic with the Jaco Pastorius composition “Las Olas.”

A graduate of the University of Miami with a degree in Communications and Theatre, Henry got her first recording experience with dance music DJ/producer Noel Sanger. After “Miracle,” a Sanger track featuring Henry, reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s dance chart, she toured the U.S. with Sanger, which was followed by a stint with RCA recording artist Robert Bradley’s Blackwater Surprise. Then, in 2001, Henry’s magnetic personality and theatrical background helped her to launch a successful acting career, appearing in film and television roles as well as a series of commercials and voiceover assignments. But she continued to maintain focus on her budding singing career, winning a large regional following around South Florida with her live performances and being named 2002’s Best Local Solo Musician by Miami New Times. The same year, Henry had the opportunity to sing with a jazz trio for the first time, and immediately recognized the musical freedom and storytelling potential that jazz offered.

Henry’s enthusiastic embrace of jazz accelerated her creative development, leading to the 2004 release of her debut CD, The Nearness of You, on her own Banister label. That album won considerable attention from audiences and critics both in the U.S. and in Japan, with HMV Japan naming Henry the Best New Jazz Artist of 2004. The album climbed to #2 on HMV Japan’s jazz chart and remained in the top 10 for three months. Back home, Henry won rave reviews and received significant airplay on jazz radio, and was the subject of features in Billboard, JazzTimes and Downbeat. Her second album, Teach Me Tonight, on which she was backed by the Eddie Higgins Trio, reached #1 in Japan and was named HMV Japan’s Best Vocal Jazz Album of 2005.

Henry’s 2008 album, The Very Thought of You, found her continuing to explore the Great American Songbook while broadening her repertoire to include original material and contemporary songs. The album substantially expanded her American audience, reaching #7 on Billboard’s jazz chart. Its international popularity spurred her to step up her performance schedule with successful tours of Japan (where she’s toured nine times), Europe and Russia. Henry also remained a favorite in New York City where she’s made high-profile appearances at such prestigious venues as Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola and Feinstein’s at the Regency. Throughout 2009 and 2010, her monthly performances in front of sold-out crowds at Chelsea’s Metropolitan Room led to winning the 2010 BISTRO Award for Outstanding Jazz Vocalist.

Henry’s prior achievements set the stage for the creative triumph of Embraceable, on which her successful stylistic departures mark her as an artist whose appeal transcends genre boundaries.

“I’m happiest when I’m in front of an audience,” she stated, “connecting with people emotionally through music, and making Embraceable brought me closer to that feeling. I was able to reach deeper within to tell more personal stories; to embrace and express who I truly am”.

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