News Column

Facetime: The divine voice of Nicole LePera

August 18, 2013

YellowBrix

Aug. 18--Nicole LePera has a heavenly voice. It's kind of ironic because for the past year or so, I've been walking by her newsroom desk every day while singing my fool head off.

What she must think of me.

It turns out Nicole is one of those natural-born musicians, a fact I discovered when I stumbled onto her website and listened to the clips. Her voice is sublime, the sound of bells ringing across a meadow. Her music gives me chills, the good kind, so I set about learning what she was all about.

I have since quit singing in the newsroom. Mostly.

How old were you when you developed the music bug? My mom said I sang before I spoke, so I suppose I was born with it.

What's your music background? Even though I'm concentrating now on more mainstream music, I have a background in academia. I attended Interlochen Arts Academy for music composition and voice, received my bachelor's degree from Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Md,. and also a master's degree in music composition from the Yale School of Music, where I studied with Jacob Druckman. I have also sung in a number of vocal ensembles, including the Gregg Smith Singers of New York City.

Who are your influences? Vocally, I've had quite a few influences over the course of my lifetime, including Aretha Franklin, The Andrews Sisters, Bjork, Kate Bush, Loreena McKennitt, Patsy Cline, Robert Smith, Janis Joplin, Ann Wilson, Stevie Nicks, Norah Jones, Alanis Morrisette, Joni Mitchell, Annie Lennox and Shirley Manson. Compositionally, I have been influenced by everything from African drumming to delta blues to the standards, as well as composers such as Arvo Part, Thomas Tallis, John Cage and Igor Stravinsky. Music, to me, should come from the core of your being, no matter what form it takes. I can get just as much out of hearing an improvised, raw piece of music as one that has taken months or even years to perfect. I also enjoy the sounds of everyday life and nature and find that they are as much music to me as anything else.

Do you ever cut loose and just belt out rap or metal? Or, God help us, country? My voice doesn't lend itself that well to metal, and I can't rap worth a crap. However, there are some secret tapes I created with a rock musician friend where my vocal shrieks make Yoko Ono sound like Enya. No one will ever hear those, though.

A few of my songs are almost country, though they don't quite cross the border and put on a cowboy hat.

What's next for you? I am currently working on an album entitled "Sanctity." I am hoping to play out more than I have in recent years and produce a few more albums, hopefully that elusive studio-produced album I have wanted for so long. I would also like to find a jazz ensemble to sing standards with, as I really enjoy it. I was asked to be part of a jazz ensemble in Pennsylvania, but I love Maine and that's a pretty long commute.

Find out more at www.nicolelepera.com or buy her CD at cdbaby.com/cd/NicoleLePera.

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(c)2013 the Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine)

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