Jazz singer hopes to lure young fans to her shows
Montreal singer Nikki Yanofsky has a resume that few performers can match at age 19. She has sung jazz standards and performed at famed concert venues worldwide over a span of six years.
However, most of the people in her audience are usually people old enough to be her parents and grandparents. She hopes that younger fans will see her embark on a six-week summer tour of seven Canadian cities, including concerts at the Toronto Jazz Festival and the Montreal Jazz Festival.
“I hope to lure some of my younger fans to love jazz in the upcoming concerts and my new CD,” Yanofsky said. “There are new songs that I wrote and arrangements that make me sound contemporary, especially with the new band.”
Although the upcoming concerts will feature some of the jazz standards that Yanofsky has featured on her past CDs, including her interpretation of Ella Fitzgerald scat songs, Yanofsky will introduce her new band of young musicians, some as young as 19, to showcase some of her new self-penned songs in her upcoming CD Little Secret, which will be released later this year.
Yanofsky’s appeal for youth is guided by famed 80-year-old jazz artist/composer/producer Quincy Jones, whom she signed with to manage her career earlier this year. Jones produced music for Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra among other artists. Yanofsky is elated to be guided by Jones as her mentor.
“Quincy has been supportive of me since he first heard me sing at age 15. He has helped me bring the jazz and pop music worlds together in the new CD. I have important things to say in these songs that young people will hear and let go of any preconceived ideas about jazz and embrace the music,” Yanofsky said.
“I no longer sound like a child. My voice is deeper and fans will hear the difference right away.”
Some of the songs on the CD include Something New, featuring a soulful Yanofsky to Enough Of You featuring vocal harmonies and Yanofsky’s interpretation of The Doors’ People Are Strange as a ballad on the problems of school bullying, a subject close to Yanofsky’s heart.
“It hasn’t been that long that I remember the problems of being bullied at high school, so the song has a strong message.”
Yanofsky achieved fame at the 2010 Winter Olympics for singing I Believe before millions of viewers. She has received praise from other musicians and critics for her four-octave range and vocal style sounding like a cross between Fitzgerald and Judy Garland.
Since singing with her father Richard’s jazz band in Montreal at age 11 at Maimonides Jewish hospital, young Nikki knew she wanted to be a professional singer.
“There is nothing better I could think of doing in my life than singing and immersing myself into my songs.”
Yanofsky’s dream came true at age 13 when she headlined the Montreal International Jazz Festival and went on to record CDs and to be nominated for several Juno Awards in 2010 and 2011. Yanofsky made her American television debut in the PBS special Nikki: Live In Montreal in 2010.
Along the way, Yanofsky was mentored by many artists, such as Marvin Hamlisch, who featured her at age 14 at Carnegie Hall in New York.
Another memorable night for Yanofsky took place when she performed On A Clear Day and Lazy Afternoon in honour of her idol at the 2011 Grammy Awards.
“To perform for Barbra Streisand, well that is a dream come true. My mother and I saw all her films from Funny Girl to Yentl and to share the stage in her honour with Herbie Hancock, Barry Manilow and Stevie Wonder was a special moment for me. There is no singer alive than can be as perfect as Barbra Streisand.”
Yanofsky’s star has blossomed beyond North America, performing in Asia, Europe and at the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat in 2010.
“Performing in Israel was so moving. How can anyone, Jewish or not Jewish, not feel connected to the people there? I enjoyed not only performing there, but seeing all the landmarks in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. I definitely want to come back to Israel as often as possible.”
Yanofsky has a heart as big as her voice ‑ she is a philanthropist to the Israel Cancer Research Fund and Montreal Children’s Hospital among other not for profit organizations.
Nikki Yanofsky performs in concert June 25 at the Toronto Jazz Festival and July 4-6 at the Montreal Jazz Festival as well as five other cities in Canada this month. For tickets to the concerts, call 416-408-0208 (Toronto) or 514-871-1881 (Montreal) or buy online at www.nikkiyanofsky.com