Nicolas Bearde Comes to the Cadillac Hotel

by E. "Doc" Smith on August 24, 2012

Nicolas Bearde performs for the “Concerts at the Cadillac”, series this Friday, August 24th, at the Cadillac Hotel, 380 Eddy Street, SF, between 12:30 and 1:30 PM. Even Bobby McFarrin says Nicolas Bearde has “a deeply soulful voice”, and is “a uniquely versatile entertainer”. Mr. Bearde will be accompanied by the fabulous Tammy Hall on piano and Tony Saunders on bass.

Internationally acclaimed jazz recording artist, songwriter and educator, Nicolas Bearde , blends genres of jazz, soul and blues as he takes you on a musical journey. An original and current member of Bobby McFerrin’s renowned vocal ensemble, “Voicestra” for over two decades, Nicolas has also carved out a remarkable solo career, and made a notable contribution to the music world with his soulful style of jazz, known as the “Nicolas Bearde Jazz Experience”.

A seasoned and highly respected showman on stage, Bearde’s personality and sense of humor, manifest themselves in his expressive ballads and up-tempo tunes, with an engaging rapport that captures and draws the audience into his performance. His artistry transcends his vocal performances.

With classic stylings and cool interpretations of jazz standards and blues – a sound that one reviewer described as “smooth and buttery”, Nicolas is the definitive jazz romantic. Wherever he performs, audiences are drawn in as he lands energetic vocals and stuns with masterful simplicity. He’ll steam you up with an original soulful song like Love Me, pull you into the nuanced emotion of Bill Wither’s Can We Pretend, or captivate you with a stirring rendition of Naima, a John Coltraine ballad. Combining his original music with songs from the Great American songbook and hit tunes by an eclectic group of writers such as Burt Bacharach, Rogers and Hart, Duke Ellington and Jon Lucien, Nicolas brings a tenderness and delicacy to classic ballads, like no other.

Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, now living in the San Francisco/Bay area, Nicolas has made the world his musical home. After his service in the military, where he spent 2 years in Japan, and several years in Los Angeles, working the R & B circuit he decided that it was time to start expanding his musical palette. He began developing his jazz chops, and devising a more intimate approach to performing. when he became a regular vocalist at Pasand’s famed nightclub on Union Street in San Francisco in the early 80’s.

His life took another creative direction in 1985 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, during the auditions, 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 – primarily theatre-though he later expanded into film and television, he continued to sing. In 1984, he hooked up with singer Molly Holm and her vocal group “Jazzmouth”, a group known for scatting over changes and innovative, close harmony jazz pieces.Through that relationship with Molly, he got connected with Bobby McFerrin, and in 1986 became part of this ground-breaking a cappella group. “During that first year, McFerrin and the singers worked around the Bay Area without a name for the group, playing concerts for a couple of hours at a time, with the audience surrounding us,” Bearde recounts. “It had such a positive impact on Bobby, he decided to commit to making it a real project”.

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 yearly at major concerts throughout the world, 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.

It would be a few more years before 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 Carolinas. His original tune “Summer Sunday” hit #1 on the Beach Music charts for 8 weeks running in the summer of 2005.

Nicolas completed his third album, “Live at Yoshi’s – a Salute to Lou” in October 2007 – 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 has been picked up by radio in the UK, Poland, Macedonia, Switzerland, South Africa and Russia. His live shows garner a wide audience who appreciate his musical vision and savor his exceptional skills.

Besides maintaining this busy sideline as an actor and voice-over artist, he continues to write music and perform concerts at clubs and Jazz festivals around the country. 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, roles on the television series Nash Bridges and Monk, plus television and radio commercials for GMC, E-Loan and Traveler’s Insurance.

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 Tokyo to New York, and from Belarus, Croatia, and Germany to Russia where he recently took Moscow by storm when he performed at the “Classics and Jazz” music festival on the palace grounds of Catherine the Great.

Nicolas’ unmistakable voice will soon be heard on his upcoming 4th album, which will showcase his timeless and diverse song stylings, and be supported by TV appearances and radio promotion.

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