By Greg Carannante
City & Shore Magazine
Internationally acclaimed jazz songstress Nicole Henry calls both Miami Beach and New York City home, but it’s as clear as the soulfulness in her voice that her heart resides in South Florida.
Though her tours have enchanted audiences in 20 countries from Europe to Japan, she’s made it a point to get back home and perform a benefit concert for the Miami Music Project each year for the past six. And on Dec. 14, Henry returns to Miami Beach’s Colony Theatre for her seventh annual Winter Concert, a perennial sellout that will showcase the vocalist’s versatility in a range of styles: jazz, soul, pop, Broadway, inspirational, holiday and the American Songbook.
Henry also released her first holiday single last month, an exultant rendition of Angels We Have Heard on High. Recorded in Miami with her quartet, it’s the first in a series of four singles in her “Inspiring Action Through Song” campaign, which encourages listeners to consider performing acts of kindness and community. The next release will come in February.
Also last month, the singer starred in the musical The Bodyguard at the Beverly, Mass., North Shore Music Theatre, playing the role of Nicky Marron, the sister of the film version’s Whitney Houston character. It was her first return to the musical stage since her days at the University of Miami, where she graduated with a double major in advertising and theater in 2000. Henry performed on campus and at the Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables before launching her singing career — eventually earning a Soul Train Award for “Best Traditional Jazz Performance” and three Top 10 Billboard albums.
The Winter Concert’s theme of “Believe” is complemented by its cause. The Miami Music Project empowers area children to achieve their full potential through music education and performance opportunities by offering free-of-charge after-school programming to all students.
The concert is at 8 p.m., with a 6:30 p.m. reception for sponsors and VIP ticket holders. VIP tickets are $100 and include a pre-concert meet-and-greet and open bar. General admission tickets are $55 and $30. Tickets are available at colonymb.org, by calling 800-211-1414, or at the Colony Theatre box office, 1040 Lincoln Road.
Between her Bodyguard performances, Henry found a few moments to offer some entertaining responses to our standard Quote Unquote questions.
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Aside from the weather, what do you enjoy most about South Florida?
There is nothing like sunshine in your life and having the ocean so near! I also love that it’s been my home for over 20 years, so I’ve been able to grow up here and watch it grow, as well.
Aside from the weather, what do you dislike most about South Florida?
Wait, who said I disliked South Florida’s four seasonal climates: Very Warm, Hot, Very Hot, Griddle?! Hmm … dislike? I’d say the racial and socio-economic divide — but that’s a national issue. Can I say more about what I like? Our Miami-Dade Public Schools and our two jazz stations, WLRN and WDNA.
Are you a beach person or a pool person?
Generally, beach. But, I guess it depends on whose pool it is. Basic point: If I’m gonna get my hair wet AND show the goods (ha!), I need to be relaxed and make it worthwhile!
When in your life are you or have you been the happiest?
When I’m being authentic and curious. For example, onstage performing, or at social dinners/events where I can have thought-provoking conversations. Or listening to my fav music from 1970s and 1980s.
What do you do when you’re stuck in a traffic jam on I-95?
Usually I’m warming up my voice in the car or listening to NPR or podcasts.
What music are you listening to now?
Honestly, I’m digging my throwbacks to what my parents played for me growing up outside of Philly. So, tons of disco-ish Sounds of Philadelphia stuff; Marvin Gaye; Teddy Pendergrass (Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes); The Spinners; The Commodores.
Are you a fan, and if so, of what?
Museums (though I don’t go enough); GARDENS; yoga; meditation; old-school deep house music; Nancy Wilson; learning history; kids; George Michael; live music.
If you had to choose: Beatles or Stones?
Bob Marley … LOL. OK, OK. The Stones. Though, I likely know more Beatles songs.
What are your social media handles?
IG and FB: NicoleHenryMusic. Twitter: NicoleHenryJazz.
Apple or Android?
Who is your real-life hero or heroine?
My mom. I realize more and more each day how cool she is.
If you had to choose: Rocky or Raging Bull?
Raging Bull (though, Rocky was made in Philly, like me.)
What do you like most about yourself?
My love for all people and nature.
What places in South Florida do you recommend to guests visiting from out-of-town?
Miami Beach to lie out in the sun; Fairchild Tropical Gardens; Vizcaya; PAMM; Miami New Drama; Miami Beach Botanical Garden; University of Miami campus (GO CANES!); South Pointe Park.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d elongate my life span (the younger part of it).
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Quitting my ‘day job’ and committing to a full-time entertainment career in the fall of 2000.