In this current generation, music is only really classified into three categories: Hip Hop, Pop, and Rock. However, 20 year old Canadian native Nikki Yanofsky is breaking that barrier. With a classic fashion sense, 60s style, and elegant earthy vocals, it’s no wonder this naturally talented beauty decided to follow the footsteps of icons such as Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. Yanofsky’s cover of Fitzgerald’s song Airmail Special (1941) is actually one of her first published works and at the young age of 13, Canada was smitten with her.
Singing wasn’t a shot in the dark for this bubbly star, something inside of her had always known this was the career choice she was meant to have. “In prekindergarten, the teacher always asked ‘So what do you want to be?’ And whatnot and I would always say singer. Every week, it would be different for the other people in my class. One week someone would say ‘I wanna be a singer’ and the next they’d say ‘I wanna be an actress’ and the next week they’d say ‘I wanna be a dancer’. But, I just always said singer I knew it was something I wanted to do, I can’t picture myself doing anything else.”
Yanofsky often found herself putting on shows in her house so her family could watch her perform, something that helped keep her from developing stage fright as she began her career. At the age of 12, Yanofsky had her first live performance at the Montreal Jazz Festival. “It’s pretty funny, obviously my definition of being prepared then is totally different from being prepared now,” she laughed when talking about how she beats it, “once I realized I can do it without really being nervous, I can do it.”
It also helps that aside from her passion for singing, the audience helps to give her motivation as well. “Being able to be up there, open up a little bit and have a mutual emotion [with the audience] and share it,” she says is her probably her favorite thing about performing live.
Her ability to stay so down to earth and humble no doubt comes from not only herself, but also from being mentored by living legend Quincy Jones who she says is the nicest guy in the world. “[The] biggest thing I learned from him is humility, he’s always so nice to anyone that talks to him, you can see how he’s gotten where he is in his career. He’s always so open to other people and their opinions.” She then went on to add what has inspired her the most about him, “…when you think you’re as good as you can be, there’s no room to grow, he always believes there’s room for improvement, that’s something I always try to take with me.”
Yanofsky is somewhat of a free spirit, allowing things to willingly come to her, such as her signature jazz sound, “It wasn’t a conscious decision, it more just happened. I’ve always loved that retro sound so it just naturally happened that way.”
Just as her sound came naturally, as does the stories for her songs. “Whenever I’m not really looking for it [inspiration], it sorta comes,” She says, mentioning how she tries to write from personal experiences, but also that she could be watching a movie, in a certain place, or talking to someone when an idea strikes. “Inspiration is sorta a funny thing, it’s hard to pin down, but once you feel it you just have to run with it.”
So what’s next for Nikki Yanofsky? Well, she’s currently working on a new album, telling us that she loves the direction it’s going and that she feels “very clear headed about it.” Besides her music, she’s also getting involved with more charity work geared towards ending bullying. “[It’s] something very important to me because I was bullied a lot in elementary and high school and I was very lucky to have my family there and be able to talk to them,” She reveals to us wholeheartedly. “But I realize that a lot of others feel like they don’t have people they can talk to and confide in. So, I’m just really working to let them know they’re not alone.”
Aside from her busy schedule of charity work and music, Yanofsky also admits to spending her time watching shows like Project Runway, “Project Runway is my guilty pleasure right now,” she tells us through giggles, “which is really dangerous because there’s like 12 seasons I haven’t seen so I have a lot of catching up to do.” Aside from binge watching what she jokingly calls, “trash television,” she also likes to walk her dog and bake cookies with her mom when time outside the studio allows.
Nikki Yanofsky has such a strong head on her shoulders and a vibrant and welcoming personality that compliments her undeniable talent. With pure motives and dedication, there’s no wonder why Quincy Jones wanted to take her under his wing. Yanofsky is an amazing young woman, she says her goal is to, “be happy and stay happy, wherever my happiness takes me is where I should go.” And for sure she’s going far.
10 Fun Facts about Nikki Yanofsky
- She’s a germaphobe
- She has 3 dogs
- She can moonwalk…kinda
- She collects sunglasses
- She also collects old vinyls
- Her favorite food is chicken pot pie
- She’s (ironically) really messy
- Her favorite color is green
- Her zodiac sign is Aquarius and identifies with all of the same hobbies
- She started writing poetry in the fifth grade
You can keep updated on all things Nikki Yanofsky with her Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram accounts. These links and more can be found on her website, nikkiyanofsky.com! A list of upcoming tour dates for her Canadian tour can be found on her website as well. Her album “Little Secret” is available on iTunes now.
Photo Cred: Valarie Jodoin Keaton