Nicole Henry’s fans know that no matter where in the world she is performing, she will be back in Miami Beach every December to perform her Winter Concert.
Henry, who fell in love with the city when she came here to study at the University of Miami, performs her sixth annual concert on Saturday, Dec. 15 at the Colony Theatre on Lincoln Road.
Henry is a Philadelphia native who discovered Miami Beach when she arrived at the University of Miami on a scholarship to study architecture. But it was while performing on Miami Beach that she fell in love with jazz, and now she is a singer, in demand at clubs and concert halls throughout the U.S., as well as touring abroad in other countries, including in Korea, Japan, England and Russia.
Her national career took off in 2004, with her debut CD, “The Nearness of You,” which her considerable attention from both critics and audiences, and in Japan, where they named her Best New Jazz Artist that year.
The following year, her CD “Teach Me Tonight” reached No. 1 in Japan and was named HMV Japan’s Best Vocal Album of 2005. But it was with the 2008 release of “The Very Thought of You,” that her American audience really expanded, as it reached No. 7 on Billboard’s jazz chart. Her most recent CD, “So Good, So Right: Nicole Henry Live,” was recorded at her sold-out concerts at Feinstein’s in New York City.
More awards followed, including her Soul Train Award for “Best Traditional Jazz Performance,” and she’s received stellar notices in the “New York Times,” “Wall Street Journal,” “Jazz Times,” and “Jazz Festivals Worldwide,” which dubbed her “The Vocalist who Sings Rainbows.”
miamiartzine.com: How did your first Winter Concert begin?
Nicole Henry: I love playing clubs and large venues like the Arsht Center, but there weren’t any 100-to-200 seat clubs here, so that is why I decided to do a concert like this.
maz: What should audiences expect from this year’s Winter Concert?
NH: I always do a mix of seasonal favorites, as well as songs from my repertoire. In terms of the range of music and styles, there will be more contemporary music in the show then in past shows.
maz: I know that his concert is always extra special to you because you pair it with a charity. Which nonprofit organization will benefit this year?
NH: I usually pick a different charity each year, but this is the second year I chose the Miami Music Project, because bringing music to children is very in line with who I am as an artist, and it benefits Liberty City. (The organization sponsors a children’s orchestra there, as well as in other Miami-area communities as well).
maz: Do share some of the events that were highlights for you this year.
NH: My performances in the U.S. included playing in my mom’s hometown of Atlanta, and I also debuted in Malibu. I also debuted in St. Louis in a great jazz club, which used to be the Jazz Bistro, which is now Jazz St. Louis. But it’s mostly been a transformative year of planning, and seeing what’s possible.
MiamiArtzine.com: What do you have in the works?
NH: I am working on a new CD that should be coming out Mother’s Day weekend, one with the repertoire of one of my jazz legends whose style influenced me, Nancy Wilson. I’m also expanding my repertoire, looking towards Broadway and the popular music of the ‘70s and ‘80s, which I’ve always adored, and I’m setting my sights on getting back into acting. But I’m also considering other media, like podcasts, and absorbing a lot of information about Civil Rights and justice – things that matter.
maz: I know that you’ve had some personal challenges this year as well, especially with the sudden death of your long-time manager, Dennis Ostern.
NH: Literally days before Dennis passed, we finalized the theme of this concert, which is “For the Love of You.” I considered cancelling it but I could hear him saying, “Nope, we started this tradition, we have to keep it going.”
maz: When you did this first Winter Concert in 2013, did you think it would become a tradition?
NH: That isn’t how I looked at it, but this is what people’s vision has been. Even Michel Hausmann, the wonderful artistic director at Miami New Drama (which operates the Colony Theatre) told me, “Nicole, we want this to be Miami Beach’s “Nutcracker. ” This was such a wonderful compliment to me because Miami Beach means so much to me.
“Nicole Henry’s 6th Annual Winter Concert” will be performed at 8 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, 33139. There is a V.I.P. reception at 6:30 p.m. Tickets: $30-100. Call 800-211-1414 or colony.org.