More than 350 audience members were entranced by the voices of 11 women who sang for the chance to be the Kobe Jazz Vocal Queen.
The contest took place March 19 at Seattle’s Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley and local singer Nancy Nolan was one of the last finalists to perform.
“I’m still savoring the extraordinary and wonderful evening,” Nolan said, shortly after returning home to Langley from the event.
Nolan caught the last boat home to find her email inbox full of “raves and gushing compliments” for her performance, and her last minute clinch of guitarist Troy Chapman, of Pearl Django and Billet-Deux, to accompany her on her second of two tunes allowed for the competition.
She accompanied herself on piano for her first tune, “All The Way,“ the Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn song made famous by Frank Sinatra in 1957. Chapman stepped in to accompany Nolan when she serenaded the crowd with “That’s All,” another great American jazz standard by Alan Brandt and Bob Haymes, which Nat King Cole made popular in 1953.
“You are a phenomenal guitarist Troy,” Nolan wrote in an email to her last-minute hero. “Even the Jazz Alley staff let me know, with a wink, that they concurred,” she told the guitarist.
Chapman was equally as thrilled to have the chance to play with the singer.
“You were awesome,” Chapman said to Nolan in an email.
“You should be extremely proud of your performance. World class. I had a great experience with a great vocalist. Thanks for the opportunity to play the gig with you.”
Nolan was vying for the chance to become the Seattle representative for the Seattle-Kobe Sister City Association’s event, which sends the winning vocalist on a free trip to Kobe, Japan on May 8.
And, although she failed to beat the winner, Seattleite Nancy Erickson, Nolan said she felt like a queen herself after discovering a great new collaborative partner in Chapman.
“I must say, the most rewarding part of the event, other than the actual singing, was working with the phenomenal guitarist, Troy Chapman,” Nolan said.
“It was pure joy collaborating with him. Patient, generous and oh, so talented; it sounds like a cliché, but we really must record the arrangement we put together for ‘That’s All,’”she added.
Nolan had almost forgotten about the contest after she had submitted two songs in January that she had recorded for her latest CD release, “Nancy Nolan Sings.” She sent in her renditions of “My Favorite Things” and “Lover Man” and was surprised when she received her finalist congratulation letter in early March telling her she had been one of 11 singers chosen among 100 applicants.
The icing on the cake was when a large group of her Seattle friends and fans showed up to hear her sing and root for her.
“Many new fans came forward to tell me that my singing … spoke to them and gave them chills,” Nolan said.
“No, I didn’t win the competition, per se, but much winning took place in my heart and soul.”
Being one of the last sets to perform, Nolan said she and Chapman were used to hearing the word “next” by the time the evening was winding up. It is an appropriate word for them, she said, as she hopes to apply it to what will be “next” for them as a newly found duo who hope to play some concerts together in the future.
In the end, Nolan admitted that she may have been a bit rattled by the large, 11-foot Steinway grand she had to play, as opposed to the baby grand she’s used to playing at home, and a bench that wasn’t adjusted for her height, not to mention no sound check which is hard for someone with a big, belting, round voice like Nolan’s.
But, she was magnanimous.
“Oh well. The ‘Nancy’ who won was very poised and polished. I am happy for her and her win. I have been to Japan four times and sung all over that beloved country. It’s her turn!” she added.
Visit www.nancynolan.com to find out more about this artist.