by Rita Charleston
She’s won several Grammy Awards for her renditions of blues, jazz, pop, R&B and gospel music. Over the years, Nancy Wilson, known as the consummate entertainer, has garnered nicknames like “Sweet Nancy” and “The Girl With The Honey-Coated Voice.” And now, out to re-capture some of Wilson’s lush sounds and beautiful music is Mt. Airy resident Laurin Talese, who will be paying homage to Wilson, one of her idols, on Saturday, Feb. 10, in the Perelman Theatre at the Kimmel Center.
Like Wilson, Talese also comes from Ohio but now makes her home in Mt Airy because, she says, “I love the open space of it all, its lush tree-lined streets and its feeling of calm and quiet with so much space I feel like I can breathe.”
Talese admits she always wanted to be a singer and perceived life as if she were on a movie set. “For instance, I’d think about hearing a Henry Mancini song in my head as I went about my shopping. That may seem strange to some but not to me. I guess I just have a cinematic-type personality.”
Naturally gifted, Talese has been captivating audiences with her voice since the age of 10, saying she comes from a musical family, especially on her father’s side. Attending the Cleveland School of the Arts, she received notoriety as a promising young vocalist. “It was at that school that I discovered jazz.
“In the 9th grade we were told we could audition for the ensemble, which I did. And it was then that I discovered people like Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald and Nancy Wilson. The list goes on and on, and so did my love of jazz. I think it was all just very natural for me.”
After graduating from the Cleveland School of the Arts, Talese packed her bags and moved to Philadelphia to attend the University of the Arts, where she subsequently received her Bachelor of Music degree in jazz vocal performance. And then it was off to try to make a name for herself.
She admits that although her first love is jazz, she has worked with many recording artists singing many musical genres, including Jaguar Wright, Vivian Green, German superstar Joy Denelane and many others. She’s also shared the stage with renowned classical and jazz ensembles such as The Cleveland Orchestra, The Cleveland Jazz Heritage Orchestra, The Moses Hogan Chorale, and the internationally acclaimed Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg, Austria.
Her vocal talents allowed her to travel the world until one day, not too long ago, she decided it was time to strike out on her own and record her very first album. “Gorgeous Chaos,” a title, she says, that refers to her own personal experiences in love relationships, “where one is enlivened or injured, where a relationship may prove good or bad but nonetheless beautiful and chaotic at the same time.”
Included in the album are some Nancy Wilson favorites like Gershwin’s “Someone To Watch Over Me” and Arthur Hamilton’s “Cry Me A River,” as well as Vivian Green’s “Kissing A Fool,” songs co-written by Talese including “True Heart,” “This Love,” “Same Mistakes” and more, many of which will be heard during her upcoming concert.
“My album consists of half original tunes and half covers,” Talese explained. “It took me some time to decide to do my first album because I was busy making a living as a singer and traveling the world. But once I decided to do it and was thoroughly committed to the idea, I got together with people I met at the University of the Arts and recorded it. It was a beautiful thing to happen.”
Now working on her next album, this 35-year-old singer/songwriter hopes there will be many more in her future and that she’ll then have the chance to sing them in front of a live audience. She says, “I like people. I like interacting with them and seeing how they are reacting to the songs I’m singing to them – how the songs make them feel.
“Honestly, there’s nothing like the energy that comes from a live audience. It’s the same way I react to Nancy Wilson, which is why I decided to do this concert dedicated to her. I’ve always loved the way she sang and looked. She has the poise and grace on stage I’ve always admired. I just fell in love with her songbook and the songs she chose to sing. So, along with my own work, I felt it was time to celebrate Nancy Wilson.”
For times and ticket information, call 215-893-1999.