Shahida Nurullah & Good Company
With a wide, rich and riveting vocal range, Shahida Nurullah explores the wide reaches of the jazz songbook – from tender ballads and burnished standards to percussive Brazilian rhythms and beyond.
Born into a family of artists, the Detroit native was raised and influenced by the rhythms and cultures of both New York and Detroit. Her formal musical training began at Cass Technical High School; a school distinguished as a cynosure for developing the highly talented, well-known jazz talents and continued in studies and a breadth of collaborations with the finest jazz musicians the Motor City has to offer. She has worked regularly with Kenny Cox, Marion Hayden, Donald Walden, Teddy Harris, Marcus Belgrave, Kamau Kenyatta and others, as well as with ex-Detroiters Yusef Lateef and Geri Allen.
Her outstanding musical intelligence is vibrantly reflected through a versatile repertoire that includes blues, jazz, samba, bossa nova, show tunes and more. Shahida has performed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Montreux Detroit Jazz Festival, the Detroit International Jazz Festival and at the Detroit Jazz Festival, with Charlie Gabriel and again in a performance of a jazz version of Vivaldi's “Four Seasons with Eddie Daniels. She has performed an “American Songbook” concert with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra and as a guest vocalist with the Preservation Hall Band at Preservation Hall New Orleans, LA and also at numerous clubs throughout southeastern Michigan, including Detroit’s Dirty Dog Cafe. As well, she had a starring role in a staging of the musical play After Hours: Great Legends! Great Music! Directed by Ron Milner.
As a member of internationally lauded pianist Geri Allen’s band, “Open on All Sides,” her vocal styling bowled Europe over when she toured Germany, France, Finland and Holland. When alto saxophonist Steve Coleman, who was present on the recording, could not come along, Nurullah also vocalized Coleman's parts, to much acclaim. The New York Times lauded her performance with Allen at New York’s Knitting Factory and she received the Spirit of Detroit Award.
Her work has been praised in Downbeat magazine, the New York Times, the Detroit Free Press and Finland’s Rytmi magazine, which included her name in a poll alongside such legends as Sarah Vaughan and fellow Detroiter Betty Carter.
Her vocal talent surpasses the challenge of any music in the popular American songbook — not to mention challenging the language barrier. She sings in three different languages, although she has her own affection for Brazilian music by the likes of Gilberto Gil and Antonio Carlos Jobim. She has a wonderful stage presence that draws audiences into the performance as she talks about the songs and might ask the audience to guess what movie a song was the theme for. In addition to her performing, she is a University of Windsor special instructor in jazz and pop voice.
Her last recording The Ruby and the Pearl has received rave reviews and extensive airplay across the nation. Kansas Public Radio e-Newsletter raves, “With a lush voice, equally at ease on a languid ballad or an up tempo swinger, her style hearkens back to the classic styles of the likes of Sarah Vaughn and Carmen McRae...nothing less than compelling.”
Whether swinging, rocking, or swaying, the strength of her musicianship is evident. Her choices of approach in control and capacity reveal the unwavering allegiance of a subtle improviser to the melody. She may bring to mind illustrious precursors, but there is no doubt that Shahida’s sound and phrasing are all her own and she can cut loose whenever she likes.
Detroit has a reputation for not going easy on Creatives of any sort but Shahida Nurullah and her career have persevered. When a terrible accident left her with injuries that included closed head brain injury, she had to learn how to walk and how to sing again. She overcame her injuries by sheer force of will, and with the love and help of friends from the Motor City's close-knit jazz community. Throughout her career, Shahida’s skill and talent have wowed audiences from her native Detroit to New York, Paris, Amsterdam and further. Today she continues to perform throughout the US and Canada and makes her home in Detroit.
She was considered one of 11 acts not to miss at this year's Detroit Jazz Festival's 40th anniversary by Stephanie Jones, Special to Detroit Free Press USA TODAY NETWORK.
Suggested Entertainment FeeWith the goal of providing amazing hospitality with minimal rules, the Blue LLama Jazz Club doesn't have a mandatory cover charge when featuring local and regional artists. However, our mission is to bring the best talent to our community and you will see a “suggested entertainment fee” line on the check. While it's not required, you're welcome to add the suggested amount per person to help us continue our mission of presenting amazing music five days a week on the Blue LLama stage.