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  • Kim Nalley (2005)

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    Kim Nalley, recently awarded as one of the "Ten Most Influential African Americans in the Bay Area," is an internationally acclaimed jazz & blues vocalist, actress, bandleader and producer currently residing in San Francisco after several years in Europe. She is also the owner of one of the top jazz clubs world wide Jazz at Pearl's.

    Kim Nalley in looks and presence is often eerily reminiscent of Billie Holiday but vocally she packs a 3 1/2 octave range that can go from operatic to gritty blues on a dime, projection that can whisper a ballad yet is capable of filling a room with no microphone and the ability to scat blistering solos without ever losing the crowd's interest or the intense swing. Her singing is most reminiscent of the former Basie Singers Helen Humes & Joe Williams with a dash of Dinah Washington and occasional nods to Ella, Sarah and Nina Simone.

    A born singer, as child Nalley was taught piano by her great-grandmother and later attended the Educational Center of the Arts studying Opera and Theatre. Relocating to San Francisco in the footsteps of the Greatful Dead, she sang every night in small dives to pay her way through UC Berkeley and learned to sing jazz the old fashioned way, at the jam session. Music critic Phil Elwood and San Francisco Symphony director Michael Tilson Thomas first bought Kim Nalley to national attention. Since then her collaborations and performances include Rhoda Scott, David Fathead Newman, James Williams & Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, She has performed at most of the major jazz festivals in United States Europe Japan and Canada including Monterey, Umbria Jazz and Lincoln Center.

    She is the producer of several successful historiographical concerts in various venues including her award-winning "Ladies Sing the Blues ," "She Put a Spell on Me: Tribute to Nina Simone," which was just released as a live CD and shortlisted for a Grammy and the multimedia presentation Black History Month Concert Series. As an actress she recently starred as Billie Holiday in the dramatic play "Lady Day in Love," Blues Speak woman in Zora Neal Hurston's "Spunk" and has starred in Teatro Zinzanni as Madame Zinzanni a role subsequently filled by Joan Baez and Sandra Reeves-Phillipes. A trip to San Francisco is often said not be complete without hearing Kim Nalley perform.
    Pick Artist Album Song Label
    # 1 Clifford Brown and Max Roach Brown and Roach, Inc. Sweet Clifford (EmArcy)
    # 2 Betty Carter The Audience with Betty Carter Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most (Verve)
    # 3 Joe Williams A Swingin' Night at Birdland By the River Ste Marie (Roulette)
    # 4 Max Raabe und das Palast Orchester Super Hits Oops, I Did It Again (BMG)
    # 5 Sarah Vaughan and the Los Angeles Phil harm onic Orch estra, directed by Michael Tilson Thomas Gershwin Live Fascinatin' Rhythm (Columbia)
    # 6 Nina Simone Forbidden Fruit/At Newport Porgy (Collectables)
    # 7 Clarice Taylor The Wiz (Original Soundtrack Album) He's the Wizard (Atlantic)
    # 8 The Duke Ellington Orchestra featuring Ivie Anderson The Blanton-Webster Band The Five O'Clock Whistle (Bluebird)
    Book The Old Jerusalem Bible
    Luxury Item A Barbara K Shera toolkit
    Castaways by date
    George Cotsirilos
    09 Feb
    Ed Klitsch
    05 Jan