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Nicole Nelson Band Wins Battle
The Boston Blues News
Congratulations are in order for The Nicole Nelson Band, this year's 17th Annual Boston Battle Of The Blues Bands winner.
"Overnight sensation" Nicole Nelson has only been singing professionally for 2 years but sounded like she called upon a lifetime of blues experience as she belted out tunes by Big Maybelle and Etta James at this year's finals at Harpers Ferry on July 18th.
Even though there were several female fronted bands in the battle, 23-year-old Nicole and her band easily won the competition. The crowd first stood in amazement and then cheered wildly when they heard Nicole's strong, rich vocals.
The Judges proceeded to give them one of the highest combined scores ever in the 17-year history of the battle.
The band won $1000.00 at the competition and will be heading to Memphis, TN in October to participate the National Battle of the Blues Bands.
Since winning the battle, Nicole has been approached by several record labels and by HBO's "Sex And The City" to perform a song for the show.
Other bands that participated in the finals were runner-up The Coupe De Ville Band, Susan Angeletti Band, The Swingin' 40s and The Nobby Reed Project.
Stay tuned to these pages for an upcoming feature article on The Nicole Nelson Band!
-Mary M. Mena
WHAT DID I TELL YOU?...
August 07 2001
Far be it from me to say I told you so, but when fledgling songbird Nicole Nelson joined Ju-Ju Cocktail's Wednesday night gigs at the Times some months back, I pointed out that she was someone to watch.
Since then, the career of the 23-year-old New Yorker, who came to Boston to try out for the musical Rent and decided to stay, has been moving at warp speed. In mid-July, she and her band (www.nicolenelsonband.com) won the Boston heat of the Battle of the Blues Bands (by the largest margin ever), which will send them to the Memphis finals in January. And since then, Whitney Houston's former manager has come a calling; Bostons prestigious Rear Windows studios are panting to record her demo CD, and there's talk she may soon be recording a song for HBO's cultural paradigm, "Sex in the City".
"Its amazing how word travels", she observed the other evening, tucking into a plate of Sweet Willie D's voodoo barbecue before her set at the Times.
Her doe-eyes crinkling with amusement at the still-novel experience of being interviewed, she explains, "My mom tells me I sang before I talked." Nicole was raised on jazz and blues. Her dad, of Irish and Norwegian descent, also had a fondness for the Chieftains and 50s bebop, while her mom, from Trinidad, added Chaka Kan and calypso to the mix. "I played the violin, the guitar, the clarinet, and the cello, but I never had the patience to stick with one instrument. Singing came easiest".
Natural talent in such a musical melting pot created a unique problem: Which direction to go in musically?
"Like everyone else, I grew up listening to Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, but I never really wanted to sing pop or hip hop." Coming to Boston to audition for Rent was just a lark she says. Lacking theatre training and experience she was shocked they took her so seriously, calling her back for several auditions.
Nicole didn't land the part in the end, but Beantown had even better things in store for her. Here she met guitarist Brad Faucher (whos now a member of her band, along with drummer Benny Benson from Ireland, and Dean Kassell on bass).
Faucher is overdue his own special award for encouraging all the right people. Sweet Willie "D" is another who credits his musical career to him.
Through a friend of a friend, Nicole met Brad and he invited her to sing at an open mic night he was hosting at the time at a blues club in Haverhill. In anticipation, she resurrected two blues numbers remembered from childhood, "Summertime" and "Bobby McGee", but trepidation threatened to end her blues career before it had even begun.
"I almost cancelled. But Brad called me every day for three days. And after the show he said, Why arent you singing all the time? You should be in a band. And I was like, Really?
He made me a tape of all these blues songs I remembered from a kid. Learn these, he said. And I was just sucked in. I became passionate about it. Then he called me up one day and said, Nicole, you have a gig."
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Nicole and her band will do a live show on WJUL, 91.5 FM. August 11 at 3:00pm
And look for them at the Burren's (www.burren.com) first blues festival in Somerville
August 19 at 7:00pm
(Boston Magazine, Improper Bostonian)
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THIS BATTLE WINNER
Friday, July 20, 2001
A star may have been born Wednesday night at the Battle of the Blues Bands finale at Harpers Ferry. Nicole Nelson, 23, a Boston-based singer originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., ``mesmerized the crowd and easily won the competition,'' said Holly Harris, the WBOS-FM blues DJ who hosted the battle for the 16th straight year. Performing Big Maybelle and Etta James songs, the Nicole Nelson Band ``gave chills,'' wrote one of the contest's judges. ``A 10 doesn't do her justice.''
Nelson, a virtual unknown, won $1,000 from the club. Her other prizes include a trip to Memphis to compete in a national blues contest. The runner-up was Coupe de Ville, a new version of a veteran blues and soul band from New Hampshire. The Swingin' 40s, the Susan Angeletti Band and Nobby Reid Project also played in a diverse, exciting night of New England blues. The Boston Blues Society was a sponsor.
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