Mo Award 2001, 2003 & 2004 (Australian Entertainment Industry), National Jazz Award (1998) winner and A.R.I.A Finalist 2001,2004 (Australian Recording Industry), Michelle Nicolle is a jazz musician whose chosen instrument is Voice.
Known for her ability to get right to the heart of a song, as well as being an in the moment improviser Michelle has continually developed and nurtured her art form with the help of her quartet. As well as releasing 6 CDs the MNQuartet has toured extensively throughout Australia and internationally – in 2005 performing at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland.
Arranger, band leader and award-winning jazz vocalist Michelle Nicolle started her musical career when she began the violin at the age of eight in the Barossa Valley, South Australia in the 1970s. Based in Melbourne, she is now celebrated as Australia’s finest jazz singer.
As a country girl Michelle grew up listening to pop music and old movie tunes, playing in the Barossa Valley Schools Orchestra, and teaching herself to play the Angaston Town Hall’s grand piano ~ whilst her father worked, polishing the dance floor. Throughout High School, music continued to dominate. She moved up the ranks of the Orchestra, kept ‘nutting out’ pop tunes on the piano (Prince & Duran Duran!!), blew 3rd cornet in a local marching band and sang in every choir on offer.
In 1985 Michelle was accepted into the Adelaide University – playing the violin. Surprisingly, Michelle says she didn’t develop an interest in jazz until 1986 when she started singing with the university Adelaide Connection Jazz Choir. Hearing for the first time about Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Chet Baker, Michelle soon immersed herself in their music- deciding that this was the music that her heart wanted to follow. In 1987 she swapped her major to “Jazz Voice”.
She began transcribing the great horn players Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie – learning the language of improvisation through chord changes. When she completed her teaching degree, Michelle went on to study for her Associate Diploma of Jazz, where she “got into be-bop in a big way!” These two years, Michelle says, were the most important of her musical life as they laid the foundations for her wanting to make a career in playing jazz. Several musical ventures, including the 5-piece vocal group Vo-Cool and her own quintet, followed. In 1995 Michelle moved to Melbourne to live.
At the 1998 Wangaratta International Jazz Festival Michelle won the prestigious National Jazz Award ~ the judges included the legendary be-bop singer Sheila Jordon (USA), current Blue Note star Kurt Elling (USA).
“This year’s winner was Melbourne singer Michelle Nicolle, whose unaffected demeanour was as disarming as her exceptional technique. A beautiful voice; a courageous, risk-taking approach – she deserved to win.” The Age Nov.’98
Leading her band with a quiet dignity, Nicolle’s apparent ease at clever, difficult, and varied improvisation, bring to mind the skills of singers like Betty Carter, Mel Torme or Ella Fitzgerald. But this exceptionally talented woman sounds like none of those singers. What she does hold in common is being true to her artistic self, having an incredible ‘ear’ as well as being a serious jazz musician and lyricist. Her clear tone and impressive breath control indicate hard work and dedication to her art form.
Michelle received the Australian entertainment industry’s Mo Award -Jazz Vocalist of the Year 2001, 2003 and 2004