Long Live Jazz Music
Photo: Kola Shobo
"Bearde's interpretations are as affecting as they are elegant..."
-Christopher Loudon - Jazz times
2016 release -"INVITATION" - Nicolas' 5th outing on Right Groove Records, released on January 29, 2016, is highlighted with arrangements and fiery performances by grammy-winner, pianist Nat Adderley Jr. with guest appearances by sax legend, Vincent Herring. "Invitation" which moved to a prominent position in the Top 20 of the Jazz Week Charts, sizzles with selections from the classic jazz songbook, and the performances of two New York-based rhythm sections.
Internationally renowned vocalist, Nicolas Bearde, is a jazz singer of remarkable depth, range and technique who has won acclaim from critics and jazz audiences worldwide for his 'buttery baritone' and imaginative interpretations. A seasoned and highly respected showman on stage, Bearde's brilliant and lush vocals combine passion, wit and sensuality, with an engaging rapport that captures and draws the audience into his performance. Forged from his Nashville, (TN) roots and his 1980’s initiation into the thriving San Francisco music scene, Nicolas’ unique approach and electrifying delivery of his originals, time-tested standards, blues and other familiar jazz works, are soulful, swinging, improvisational and memorable!!
Born and raised in Nashville, TN and singing as long as he can remember, Nicolas’ love of Jazz and R&B classics can be laid at his mother’s feet. He remembers: "My Mother and her crew loved to have card parties, listen to late night radio, finger-pop, whoop and shout "Honey, hush" while listening to Billy Eckstine and Cab Calloway, And... Oh how they loved a good ballad!!" One of her favorites “Moonlight in Vermont”, stayed in Bearde's head for over 40 years before he recorded it on his first album.
Leaving home at 18, Nicolas spent 2 years in Japan during his military service, performing on the R&B circuit throughout the country. This was followed by several years working the Los Angeles music scene, before finally putting down roots in the San Francisco/Bay Area where he began developing his jazz chops and a more intimate approach to performing.
His life went in another creative direction in the early 80's when he became part of "Jukebox", a stage play starring Danny Glover. At Glover's recommendation, Bearde began studying with renowned acting teacher, Jean Shelton, and a year later, went out for his first audition and was cast in the Athol Fugard play "Master Harold"…and the Boys. He went on to do 4 more plays in quick succession, and knew he was onto something. Even as Bearde concentrated on acting – first theatre, then expanding into film and television, compiling an impressive list of credits that includes film roles in "True Crime" with Clint Eastwood, "Final Analysis" with Richard Gere and Kim Basinger "Pacific Heights" with Michael Keaton and Melanie Griffin, roles on the television series "Nash Bridges" and "Monk", plus television and radio commercials, music continued to be his dominant muse.
In 1986, Nicolas and a small group of Bay Area singers were recruited by Bobby McFerrin to form the basis of what would later become "Voicestra" , a wildly innovative and ground-breaking a cappella ensemble, which toured worldwide for over 10 years.
When Bobby decided to take a break from the group in the mid-90's, Bearde and other members of Voicestra branched off into a smaller unit and called themselves, SoVoSò. "We followed in the improvisational tradition of Voicestra, but added more gospel, Latin and R & B elements," he says. SoVoSò went on to win numerous awards and honors, among them 1st-place at the renowned a cappella summit CASA awards, and nominations for "Best Group", "Best Album" and Nicolas as "Best lead vocalist". Throughout the 1990's, while developing his acting skills and sideline, and participating in the a cappella adventures of Voicestra and SoVoSò, Bearde continued to do his solo thing.
CURRENT CAREER AND PROJECTS
Nicolas started Right Groove Records in 1997 in order to launch his solo projects, starting with "Crossing the Line". The album was a superb showcase for Nicolas' songwriting skills as well as his masterful singing, and it landed in the Top 10 on British Soul charts, garnering glowing reviews on both sides of the Atlantic.
In 2005, Bearde produced the follow-up, "All About Love", with a more unabashedly romantic repertoire, which was added to both smooth jazz radio formats nationally and Beach Music play lists in the South East. His original tune "Summer Sunday" hit #1 on the Beach Music charts for 8 weeks running in the summer of 2005.
Nicolas released his third album, "Live at Yoshi's - a Salute to Lou" in October 2008 - an outgrowth of a "Tribute to Lou Rawls" live show that he had been presenting. It was recorded live at Yoshi's, Oakland, California's famed jazz club, produced by Bud Spangler, and is still a favorite on radio worldwide. His live shows garner a wide audience who appreciate his musical vision and savor his exceptional skills.
"Visions", his 4th CD, released in February of 2013 is a vibrant, up-tempo, soulfully driven collection of jazz originals and standards that covers a wide range of materials and speaks volumes about Bearde's diverse musical influences. Produced by Grammy musical director, Larry Batiste, and backed by a varied roster of all-star musicians, including Alphonso Johnson, David Garfield, David K Mathews, and Will Kennedy, "this cat has hit one out of the park", says Chris Spector - Midwest Record Review and... “Bearde amazes with sparkling vocal dexterity,” says Brian Soergal of Smooth Jazz radio.
Nicolas Bearde's music has been critically acclaimed and reviewed in print and online by Jazziz, Jazz Times, Jazz Week, and JazzWise magazine in London, England, and he has performed at renowned festivals and venues around the world from San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Los Angeles, to Moscow, Minsk, London, and Tokyo.
Besides maintaining this busy sideline as an actor, recently starring in the world premiere new musical, "BRIDGES" at the Berkeley Playhouse in February 2016, he continues to demonstrate his artistry as a singer, songwriter, educator, producer and performer at concerts and Jazz festivals around the world.
As a music educator, Nicolas presents master classes in performance craft and improvisation and has been a faculty member of the Jazz School in Berkeley, California, a national panel chair for Popular Voice for the Young Arts Program based in Miami, Florida and a resident instructor ( Vocal Intensive) for Jazz Camp West located in Northern California.