Where did it all start for Nicola? Well, courtesy of her family, she had the advantage of being exposed to a wide variety of music at an early age. Artists of the calibre of Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Edith Piaf and Joni Mitchell - now that IS what I call a girl group!! Then there was the influence of Pablo Milanes and Tito Puente. And even classical greats of the stature of Schubert, Brahms and Bach.
As she herself says, "My life changed forever. I was handed an acoustic guitar for my 7th birthday. We became inseparable". The journey had begun. With the seeds of originality having been sown they now needed to be nurtured and to be brought to fruition. However, you very seldom get from A to B in a straight line, and in this regard Nicola appears to be no different. And if variety is the spice of life, then Nicola has been well and truly seasoned.
She is a graduate of the Fiorello LaGuardia School of the Performing Arts (yes, the 'Fame' academy). While this may well have provided a solid foundation to build upon, undoubtedly her stint on Broadway will have contributed to a hard work ethic if it didn't already exist. She has performed and toured throughout Argentina as lead vocalist for "Buenos Aires Funk" and "Bluesberry Jam". On top of that she has also been a licensed subway performer in New York.
If all that wasn't enough she has studied and trained as a dancer in styles including ballet, modern, Latin, tap and, (err) belly dancing! We could go on, however I think you get the picture - this is a woman who has put in the groundwork.
Following an EP in 2000 the first full length album, "Real", was released two years later. This was very definitely Nicola in the raw. Perhaps lacking polish and refinement, it nevertheless hinted at the promise to come. We don't mean this in an insulting way. It's just that like the pain of failure, the sorrow of heartbreak or the agony of rejection, it is the sort of experience that you ultimately learn from in life.
We can only assume that she learned well, because the next two releases are simply phenomenal. And unusually you can see the join. The live take of "One Little Girl" that closes "Real" also opens the follow up release "What's The Point". No a longer a diamond in the rough, it's now a polished gem of a song - and the same can be said for the rest of the album.
With all her releases the Latin influence is clearly evident in both her singing and her approach to the acoustic guitar. As she says, "My family history and roots were steeped in a melting pot of European and Latin lineage and culture". We can only say she has been simmered to perfection.
Her current album, "Don't Take It Personally", brings all those early influences from her childhood together. She mixes rock with acoustic and Latin influences to spectacular effect on tracks such as the Latin-rhythm inspired "Leavin' You Behind", the rap infused "In Your Own Backyard", and especially with the raw energy of "My Name Ain't Mary".
Now backed with a talented band that can call upon an equally diverse range of musical styles and backgrounds, Nicola is producing the type of music that makes you feel alive. Music that makes you want to tell people about it rather than just furtively listening to it in the secrecy of your own bedroom, or when you think no one else is around.
Fire and Ice?
So why the fire and ice description you may be asking yourself. If you listen to her music it will be self explanatory. She has the fire of a passion that ignites from deep within her core and bursts forth in her voice, a fire born from her roots.
And the ice? Well, there is an inherent coolness that is not dependent on mass approval; and above all a voice that can send a shiver down you spine on even the hottest of sultry numbers. It all unites to create a molten stream of sound that at times just seems to engulf you. This is music to be played openly, proudly and loudly.
- Woman on Fire EP (2000)
- Real (2002)
- What's The Point (2004)
- Don't Take It Personally (2006)
Contact Details and Further Information
Author: Bluesbunny Editor
March 2 2007