Nina Simone Vidal was born into one of the largest touring attractions, as well as the leading artistic-platform cities known to mankind… Yep, you guessed it! New York, New York, the big city of dreams! It’s a no wonder that she was ordained for prominence. She was surrounded by successors every second of her fledgling life. This remarkably gifted young woman was birthed under the illustrious name “Nina Simone”… If you believe in prophecies, then you already have some idea of where I am trying to guide you. Typically, a name is just a name. However, not for this young understudy of music. Nina began playing the piano at a tender young age, and by the time that she arrived at her pubescent years she was writing poetry as well as songs. She was influenced by artists such as Miles Davis, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Keith Jarrett, Anita Baker, Sade, and Fion just to name a select few. As time progressed she developed a ravenous appetite for music, and wanted to further pursue a vocation as a songwriter. While studying music at the New York University in Manhattan, she frequented the recurring open-mic night that housed up and coming singers. It was during one of those sessions that she met the enthused musician/producer Caté. The young tuneful idealist approached him in hopes of finding a vocalist to record a song that she had written. She discovered much more than that; Caté became a life-long partner as well as the originator to an amazing production team that would help her career soar. Nina showcased a few of her songs online to gather feedback from friends. The responses that she gained were overwhelming, and much more than your standard opinions. Executives from a Japanese label, “Village Again” were impressed with her compositions, and offered to release her album in Japan. September of 2008, with no media outlets, or a fan base, Nina’s self-titled album created an intense commotion after 6 days of its release. The album was the most downloaded product on iTunes Japan, replacing Norah Jones hit single, “Come Away with Me”, the #1 contemporary Jazz cd across the country. Vidal locked in on that spot for a whopping 8 months, allowing the album to reach #3 on the Pop charts. Her international success granted her a following of fans from the US, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Poland, Indonesia, and Japan.
The latter of 2010, Nina exceeded her previous achievements with her sophomore album “The Open-Ended Fantasy.” In less than 24-hours, it was the #1 Contemporary Jazz Albums, while placing 5 Top 10 Jazz Singles on the iTunes Jazz charts.
Nina does a slew of cover-songs, (renditions) but is most comfy with Cole Porter, Paul McCartney, and Bob Marley melodies. From other articles, Nina has been called “timeless”, and her blends have been pinned as masterpieces in addition to her being called the “next great voice of her generation”. Of course, in my over analytical opinion, she’s an enduring and eccentric vocalist that has changed the style of Jazz, Classic, Neo Soul, and Blues as we know it by synthesizing the four genres and creating her own fiery sound. Vidal offers lyrics that are smooth, and beguiling. Her voice is calming like the Jazz Great Lena Horne, and penetrating similar to the sultry lyrics of Nina Simone. One of my favorite pieces from this artist is “Do it again”. The song has a modern upbeat tempo that is comparable to the hit 1960’s song “Tainted Love” performed by Nora Jones; as an added treat, we found that Nina performs this single in Spanish. I have one word for her intrinsic performance with this solo, and that’s breathtaking… If I could describe Nina’s mystifying gift of song in a dance, it would be beautiful and as seamless as the Arthur Saint-Leon’s Coppelia ballet…
TB:You are a prominent pianist. Does this add to your ability as a writer?
NV: Yes, definitely! When I’m writing songs, I’m starting with the piano. It’s the fundamental part of my song, and everything else is built upon it. I sit down at the piano, and I play around. I come up with some kind of theme or some core changes. A melody will come up after that, and I’ll have an idea for the lyrics.
TB: Do you have a favorite solo piece?
NV: I like to play a lot of Jobim. Jobim is a big inspiration of mine. I’ve studied the piano since I was younger. When I went to the preparatory school for music, I was immersed into a lot of the jazz, the Brazillian Bossa, and all of that. I gravitated towards Jobim as a writer, and I liked personally the core changes. I play a lot of his songs on the piano.
TB: How many years did you attend the school of the arts?
NV:That was actually outside of high school, and I attended Queens College for Preparatory studies in music. I went there every Saturday during my high school years. Me and Joncas, we attended the school at the same time, and he’s on a lot of my cds.
TB: How did you start touring in Japan? What leverage did you have that most artists don’t that sent you there?
NV: That’s a good question. After I recorded my first album and just put it online like most internet artist do. I tried to promote myself and sale my music. The Japanese label happened to find my album, and they liked it and they asked me to release it. We started talking about that, and they released it. I guess it’s something about that which appeals to the audience. It’s really cool.
TB: I find it intriguing that you live in New York and travel to Japan.
NV: I know that it’s a culture shock there, and you seem to adapt pretty well. What are your thoughts of their fan base versus the U.S? Well, as far as when I first went to Japan, I found that the audience is very receptive. Not only receptive but they close their eyes and they take it in and meditate. They focus on every piece of music. So, I find that to be different sometimes with the audiences. The U.S. audience is receptive and appreciative, but it’s from a different experience.
TB: How do you engage with the audience and connect with them if their eyes are closed?
NV: I find that when I’m able to convey the feeling of music, I connect because they’re feeling it. It’s all about the feeling and the vibe of the music.
TB: You held the number one contemporary Jazz album in Japan, what are your thoughts on that?
NV: Yeah, that’s awesome! I’m really grateful for that. It’s really cool. I just hope that the streak continues.
TB: I noticed that you have a unique style, and love the fact that you bring life to the “Oldie but Goodie” tunes, what was your mental space when you worked on the rendition of “Tainted Love?”
NV: That’s a really cool song. My producer had the idea of remaking that. We went in with a band and rehearsed and tried it differently and he suggested that I try it like the song “Fever”. It was kind of like that. I tried to keep it simple. I don’t really think about the way that I’m singing when I remake a song. I don’t put too much in my head. I just let it come out natural, and my naturally rendition of it.
TB: I listened to Do it Again, and I consider the song a “light your cigarette up, sexy kind of tune”. You did different variations to that. Is Spanish a language that you speak, and how difficult is it to alter your vocals and still own that sultry and refreshed feel? Yeah, I speak a little Spanish. I enjoy speaking different languages. I really love to use my voice in a different way, and use my tongue in a different way. Doing that song was a lot of fun. I like how it turned out. The Spanish audience really appreciated it.
TB: Do you think as far as crossover music is concerned, will different languages give you a bigger leverage?
NV: Oh sure! I love singing in Spanish and Portuguese. I recently sang in French. I look forward to singing in lots of languages. The fun part about it is that I get to learn the sounds of the words. A lot of music to me is the sounds that the words make, not just the words. So, I have a lot of fun with that.
TB: As I said previously, you have a very unique style of song. However the industry places you in a genre. What do you think your style of music is?
NV: It’s hard to say. It’s definitely a mix between Jazz and Soul. Then adding the elements of Pop… In my heart, I’m a singer, songwriter. At least that’s what I say when I’m speaking to myself. I give myself a label because that’s where it all started for me.
TB: What are your thoughts on writing for Paul McCartney?
NV: I didn’t write for him, I covered one of his songs, “My Love.” That’s a really cool song, and I enjoyed singing that a lot. It’s funny when I recorded the vocals, I felt like it was a lot like the original and I was sort of rethinking it. But everybody felt something really special and unique in it. It’s because when you’re artist, it’s hard to hear what everyone else was hearing. I had to take a step back from it with refreshed ears. I was very happy with it and realized that I did do something unique and special.
TB: Describe to me your passion.
NV: My passion is in a broad sense, creative expression. It’s when you feel something through my music. My passion is in song writing. I would say that this is where my passion stems from. My passion is singing, recording, and performing, all that stuff… Self-expression or I should say creative expression. I’m passionate about other creativities as well.
TB: Are you involved in any philanthropic work?
NV: I was volunteering a while at a school for autistic children. I love working with children, and involving that creative aspect with them. That’s another passion of mine also. I definitely plan to get more involved in working with children in the future. I’m looking for more ways to incorporate music and art with children in the future. The program that I was in wasn’t really geared towards that.
TB: What is something personal that you enjoy doing while on a date with yourself?
NV: Drink me a glass of wine… I like to watch documentaries, relax, and catch up with friends. Sometimes you lose track with people that you stay in touch with. That’s how I like to wind down.
TB: What artist would you enjoy working with?
NV: One would be Robert Glasper, he came out with the album “Black Radio”. It would be great if I could collaborate with him and do something kind of jazzy and crazy, that albums kind of cool. Another would be with this Brazilian artist named Jovan.
UT: Do you have any current projects that you are working on?
NV: Yeah! I just finished recording an album that should be released around October in Japan, and in the U.S. around the same time. The album is called “Silver Lining.” The context of the album is finding the “Silver Lining”. Most of the songs are centered on finding the light in the dark.
TB: Is there anything that you would like to leave with your friends and readers?
NV: I definitely appreciate them so much. It’s really great to create something and have people appreciate you the way that they do. It really keeps me going to know that they love my music. I also would like for them to know, “Please get in contact with me on Twitter!” I’m trying to get better with tweeting. I want to keep in touch with everyone on twitter at, “@MissNinaVidal.
For more information on the lyrically gifted Nina Vidal, please visit: @MissNinaVidal, and