Nikki Yanofsky, 15, Sings, Scats And Stuns With Her Talent

Braces and all...Image by ataelw via Flickr

Have you heard of — or heard — Nikki Yanofsky? She was interviewed recently on NBC Nightly News by Brian Williams. Not bad for a teen from Montreal who, until last year, wore braces.

From Wikipedia:

Nikki is the youngest performer to headline her own show in the 29 year history of the Montreal International Jazz Festival. It was the summer of 2006 and she was only 12 years old. Since then, she has performed to sold-out crowds at each of the subsequent Montreal festivals. She also performed at the 2009 Montreal Jazz festival edition. She has also performed at Montreal’s Bell Centre, The Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival in Montego Bay, with Marvin Hamlisch at Carnegie Hall in New York City and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and with The Count Basie Orchestra at the 2008 Luminato Festival in Toronto.

She’s terrific.

Here’s a video of her singing at Zankel Hall, part of Carnegie Hall — at the age of 14.

6 thoughts on “Nikki Yanofsky, 15, Sings, Scats And Stuns With Her Talent

  1. savio

    Poster’s disclosure: I grew up in a household where Billie-Holiday-style jazz dominated the home hi-fi, filling my ears with enough shooby-bee-ba-dah for several lifetimes. On the other hand, I appreciate talent, and Yanofsky has a lot of it, though I’m not sure I hear much of her in her work. Let me also make what should be a very obvious point–namely, that she wouldn’t be getting this kind of praise if she wasn’t attractive in addition to having gifts. No fawning NBC coverage, certainly.

    I can’t believe that jazz has retained its upper-middle-brow significance, that the jazz worldview (as I call it) hasn’t morphed beyond its 1958 version. You know–America’s Classical music, etc. How many people have to suffer their parents’ culture put on a pedestal by the media elite? I should get compensation!

  2. Caitlin Kelly

    savio, the same could be said of many-to-most female entertainers, and men as well — looks matter a great deal. It’s not fair — hello, Susan Boyle and the looks of doubt and contempt she got when she walked onto the stage to sing the first time — but it’s prevalent.

    I don’t know enough about jazz to agree or disagree with you on its significance. But, I hear you; if she was singing hip hop or rap would she have made the NBC News?

    I disagree about the culture-on-a-pedestal thing. Look at the endless glorification of misogynistic music that calls women bitches and ho’s. People eat it up. That offends me far worse than a teen singing Ella Fitzgerald.

    1. savio

      I wasn’t contrasting jazz to hip hop or rap, though actually the upper-middle-class followers of Ken Burns to whom I refer attach much relevance to those “urban” styles–styles I regard as the nadir of African-American popular music.

      My tastes in music lean toward pre-WWII pop and European art music. I stopped listening to rock circa 1970. My amusement/annoyance with jazz adulation is that it’s a replay of the elitist status quo I grew up with, courtesy of a jazz-bassist Dad and Classical-flutist Mom, both of the WWII generation.

  3. Caitlin Kelly

    savio, I see your point. Sad, though, it carries this connotation for you and can’t just be something you enjoy.

    No rock after 1970? Ouch! And what sort of European art music do you mean; stuff like Arvo Part or Penderecki? Brian Eno?

    1. savio

      “Art” as in “serious” (so as to avoid the second term). Ravel, Honegger, Bach, Chopin. All the folks I would have loved to hear instead of Art Farmer and Tal Farlow. Really, what was needed in our house was a more balanced playlist–modern-jazz overkill is what happened, I think. Because I love a lot of earlier jazz (King Oliver, Armstrong, early Ellington), none of which I heard much of, though I wanted to.

      My main interest is pop music history, which may be why I tuned out of rock so early. That, plus it was hard to get into Alice Cooper, ABBA, and (a little later) Disco. I didn’t even like Carole King until I found out she’d written those great early-’60s numbers.

      I have more music media that I can store (sheet music, records, songbooks) but I’m frequently asked, “Is there anyone you LIKE?”

  4. Caitlin Kelly

    savio, have you read “Girls Like Us?” by Sheila Weller? It’s a recent, terrific bio of Carole King, Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell. I loved it and learned a lot about all of these talented women.

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