" A paucity of male jazz singers makes Nicolas Bearde a rare avis"...
Michael G. Nastos - All Music Guide
Recording artist, Nicolas Bearde, one of today's premier male jazz vocalists, has won acclaim from critics and jazz audiences worldwide for his 'buttery baritone' and deeply 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, is unmistakable.
For the past 20 years, Nicolas has also delighted audiences with his vocal stylings as a member of Bobby McFerrin's wildly innovative a cappella ensemble, "Voicestra", while carving out his own distinctive solo career. With classic performances and cool 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.
Leaving home in his 20's, Nicolas spent 2 years in Japan during his military service, and several years working the R&B circuit in Los Angeles, 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 took another creative direction in the early 80's when he became part of "Jukebox", a 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 portrayal was so convincing, that his South African cast mate asked what part of Africa he was from. He went on to do 4 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 improvization 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. A brief hiatus was followed by an arduous series of auditions and performances before the group jelled in 1989, with Bearde on board. Today that entity is known around the world as the renowned vocal ensemble, "Voicestra" with which Nicolas continues to tour (depending on McFerrin's schedule).
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 called 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 - 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 and was 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.
Drawing from his vast repertoire of jazz, blues, R&B and big band sounds, Bearde's solo releases have earned accolades and a large international fan base, from New York to Tokyo, and from Belarus, Croatia, and Germany to Russia where he took Moscow by storm when he performed at the "Classics and Jazz" music festival on the palace grounds of Catherine the Great.
Besides maintaining this busy sideline as an actor and voice-over artist, he continues to demonstrate his artistry as a singer, songwriter, producer and performer at concerts and Jazz festivals around the world. Bearde has compiled an impressive list of credits that includes film roles in "True Crimes" 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 for GMC, E-Loan and Traveler’s Insurance.
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. He is also a national panelist for Popular Voice for the Young Arts Program based in Miami, Florida and a resident instructor for Jazz Camp West located in Northern California.