"Bearde's interpretations are as affecting as they are elegant..."
-christopher loudon - Jazz times
Recording artist, Nicolas Bearde, a seasoned and highly respected showman, has established himself as a powerful presence in the contemporary jazz vocal mileu. His silky baritone sound invites comparisons to Johnny Hartman, Lou Rawls, and Joe Williams, and his wit and engaging rapport captures and draws the audience into his live performances. His most recent album release, "Invitation" rose quickly to the Top 20 on the Jazz Week Charts, garnering rave reviews at home and abroad.
For the past 30+ years, Nicolas has made major marks in the world of jazz as an original member of Bobby McFerrin's innovative a cappella ensemble, "Voicestra", while carving out his own distinctive solo career. With classic performances and innovative interpretations of jazz standards and blues - Nicolas is the definitive jazz romantic. He'll steam you up with an original soulful song like Love Me, pull you into the nuanced emotion of a classic Bill Wither's tune, Can We Pretend, or captivate you with a stirring rendition of Naima, a John Coltrane ballad.
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, "Crossing the Line" in 1998.
Leaving home in his teens, after a brush with college, Bearde began singing in earnest while living in Japan during his military service, and after a stint in the LA music scene, made his home in the San Francisco/Bay Area where he began developing his jazz chops and a more intimate approach to performing.
His life took another creative direction in the early 80's when he became part of "Jukebox", a staged, radio play starring Danny Glover. At Glover's recommendation, Bearde began studying with renowned acting teacher, Jean Shelton, and a year later, he went out for his first audition and was cast in the Athol Fugard play "Master Harold"…and the Boys. His accent and portrayal was so convincing, that his South African cast mate asked what part of Africa he was from. He went on to do 3 more plays that first year, and knew he was on a new path. Even as Bearde concentrated on acting – first theatre, then expanding into film and television, music continued to be his dominant muse. During that same time period, he hooked up with singer Molly Holm and her 8 member group “Jazzmouth”, that was known for their vocal improvisation and close harmonizing. Through that relationship with Molly, he became connected to Bobby McFerrin, and in 1986 became part of Bobby's ground-breaking a cappella group. After an arduous series of auditions and performances the group jelled in 1989, with Bearde on board. Today that entity is known around the world as "Voicestra"
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 named 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.
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. It was recorded live, in-concert, at Yoshi's, ( Oakland, CA famed jazz club), and produced by legendary radio personality, Bud Spangler... It continues to be a favorite on jazz radio worldwide.
"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 ofSmooth Jazz.