How many blues fans do we have around here? And how many of you love female singers with that blues-y, soulful sound? Think Janis Joplin, Joss Stone, Dana Fuchs, along those lines. If that’s your thing, then you’ll love Nina Storey.
Originally from the Denver area, Nina Storey was raised by a father who was a sound engineer and a mother who was a producer and writer. They supported her as she overcame one obstacle after another on the path of achieving her musical dreams. First there was the car accident that left her in so much pain, it was hard for her to sing. Then there was UCLA who decided Nina wasn’t good enough for their music program. But none of that stopped her.
Nina first became well-known across the Midwest after the release of her album Shades in 1997, a followup to her debut album, Guilt and Honey. I saw her perform live twice in one year when Shades was released. The first time was in the front corner of a local music store. It was a short acoustic set and she autographed a copy of her CD for my kids who were budding little music fans at the time. The second time was at a bar with some friends who were pretty much forced to go with me because I would not shut up about Nina Storey and how amazing she is and how you just don’t expect this big, powerful voice to come out of such a tiny little woman.
Her song “No Man” gets my vote for Best Breakup Song Ever. (And while you’re at it, add “Coffee and Margaritas” onto your Independent Woman playlist, too. And the title track. Actually, just get the whole album and put it on repeat when you need some female empowerment music.) Here she is performing it at a house concert. (Someday I will be rich enough to have concerts in my house. Someday.) This live version is great but you really need to check out the studio version.
Ms. Storey followed up Shades with a self-titled album in 2001. While it’s not my favorite album of hers, it’s still full of beautiful vocals and piano that covers a variety of genres. Some of them are a little pop-ish, others resemble show tunes. Not really my style but she’s just got such a great voice that makes it worth a listen.
In 2004, she put out a live album, 24 Off the Board, that features songs from her earlier albums. If you can’t choose between Shades and Nina Storey, then 24 Off the Board is a wise choice. (Yes, I’m writing this under the assumption that you’ll be buying at least one Nina Storey album because, seriously, I think you should.) She’s such a talented singer that the live versions of her songs are just as stunning as the studio versions. No auto-tune for her!
Although Shades will always be my favorite, So Many Ways From: Me To: You is a strong contender. Staying true to her style, Nina represents many genres again. She continues to expand her range and on So Many Ways, there’s even a twinge of country in a couple of songs and I think I heard some Spanish guitar.
Earlier this year, Nina announced the release of her latest album, Think Twice. If you work your way through her discography in chronological order, you’ll hear the evolution of her music. Nina hangs onto the roots of her early music but constantly improves her game. Think Twice is proof that she just keeps getting better. So many songs on this album sound like they belong on a James Bond movie soundtrack. She’s referred to her music as “future retro” and “21st century soul,” both of which I’d say are accurate descriptions.
If you like female artists like Tori Amos, Nelly Furtado, and Kate Bush or the classics like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Eartha Kitt, you’ll like Nina Storey. Follow her on Twitter at @NinaStorey and on Facebook by subscribing to her personal page or liking her music page.