Nicole Henry Is she Miami's next diva?

mcneir | 4/5/2012, 5 a.m.

Nicole Henry is fresh off impressive performances at Jazz in the Gardens several weeks ago and at last Fridays outdoor concert on the grounds of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Shes also getting rave reviews about her fourth CD, Embraceable. But if that wasnt enough, she hopped a plane early Saturday morning for Russia where shell be the headliner for a two-week stint. And while the Miami-based vocalist has already made a name for herself here in South Florida and on several continents as a talented interpreter of jazz and pop standards, her latest endeavor shows she can equally master classics from the the 60s and 70s, as well as Brazilian favorites. She is truly expanding her repertoire.

Ive always sung pop, R&B and inspirational music, she said. Even as Ive focused on jazz over the past several years, Ive still continued performing non-jazz material. It often seemed like I was living two musical lives, so I wanted to record an album that incorporated more of my overall musical personality. Nicole grew up in a musical family in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and has been a lover of the arts since she first began to walk. She sang in school and in church, learned how to play the cello and studied ballet. Her major sources of inspiration, she says, are Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, along with an aunt, Debbie Henry, who sang with the soul/disco group Silk. But Henry has done more than dream about the future she has worked hard to develop her skills, earning a degree at the University of Miami in communications and theatre. After that, she made her way as a budding actress, shot a few commercials and did several voiceover projects. But according to Henry, her focus has always been to become a successful vocalist. In 2002, she was named Best Local Solo Musician by the Miami New Times. It was in that same year that she had the chance to sing with a jazz trio for the first time. She can now be heard on jazz radio worldwide and has been featured in some of the industrys top publications including: Billboard, JazzTimes and Downbeat. Im happiest when Im in front of an audience, connecting with people emotionally through music making Embraceable brought me closer to that feeling, she said. I was able to reach deeper within to tell more personal stories; to embrace and express who I truly am. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com