Assistant Professor of Music
Coordinator of Instrumental Studies and Director of FMU Pop Ensemble
To a certain extent, Nicole Yarling defies definition. Her myriad of personal influences have created a product that begs attention across the board — no one genre can keep her. Her chosen instruments are Voice, Violin, and Fiddle (in that order). Nicole is a rich velvet voice embroidered with technical skill and personality to boot! She is a rising star in the jazz community who, like many others, has been at it for years.
Born and raised in and around Brooklyn, New York, a musical household laid the groundwork for Nicole’s career. She was inspired very early by her father, who played jazz organ and piano, and her father’s records, which all made an impact on Nicole’s musical tastes: Artists such as Etta James, Miles Davis, Stuff Smith, J.J. Johnson and Sonny Rollins, the Beatles and Motown classics were in regular rotation. As early as age nine, Nicole would “jam” on the violin with her father. It was then that she caught “the bug” to perform for a living. Aside from the familial influences, Nicole’s education is extensive, ranging from a BA in Music from Baruch College, to a Masters in Music Education at Columbia University, as well as private training in composition, arranging, voice and violin. She uses her various music-skills today to conduct Master Classes and give vocal lessons.
Nicole moved to Florida in 1980, and has created quite a buzz. According to the Miami Sun-Sentinel, “every musical hat fits Nicole Yarling.” For more than a decade, she has been a part of South Florida’s musical world as a singer and violinist, working in jazz, rock, r&b, experimental music, and a few other styles that defy description. Nicole’s musical excursions have brought about stints with Dizzy Gillespie, and three years on tour as a featured soloist with Jimmy Buffett (1991-94). She also participated on Buffet’s platinum-selling CD “Fruitcakes” (MCA), and then went on to do 8 worldwide tours with her own project, Little Nicky and the Slicks.
Nicole’s notable talent has a virtue all its own, but it would be remiss not mention the late great vocal legend, Joe Williams. Joe “discovered” Nicole through a series of events, and adopted her as his very own project. He recognized this diamond in the rough, gleaming through, and began to invest in seeing Nicole rise to the top. “Joe Williams Presents Nicole Yarling at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild” was born as a result. Endorsed by Joe, Nicole and a select quartet of musicians featuring David Siegel (piano), Jeff Grubbs (bass), John Yarling (drums) and Henry Johnson (guitar), were recorded live in concert. This unique performance captures Nicole in her element, and reflects her undeniable charisma. It also captures a moment in history which can never be duplicated: “Joe Williams Presents…” was to be Joe’s final recording. Sadly, Joe passed away before he could see the actual release of his final work of art. He shared two unforgettable duets with Nicole: a vocal duet, “Blame It On My Youth,” and “Who She Do,” a blues tune written and sung by Joe with Nicole on violin. The recording also included two bonus tracks sung by Joe alone, “Imagination” and “After You’ve Gone.” Some would say it was a dying wish of Joe Williams to see Nicole succeed. Joe intended to escort Nicole to the highest limits, much in the same way Count Basie did for him in the late fifties. Count Basie had once supported Joe Williams at his first solo engagement by having the marquee read “Count Basie Presents Joe Williams.”