Nicky Schrire is a multitalented and inventive British-South African vocalist and composer based in Toronto, Canada. Her work has seen her likened to vocalists Joni Mitchell, Norma Winstone, and Esperanza Spalding with The Boston Globe’s Jon Garelick noting that “though her approach has earned her comparisons to Gretchen Parlato and Becca Stevens, the similarities are superficial…she’s got her own thing, and it’s very much worth listening to.”
A graduate of the South African College of Music and New York’s Manhattan School of Music, she studied with Anthea Haupt, Peter Eldridge, Theo Bleckmann, and Dave Liebman. Schrire has performed in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, London, Dublin and South Africa, with musicians including Ben Wendel, Gerald Clayton, Fabian Almazan, Nir Felder, Nikki Iles, and Florian Hoefner. She released three critically acclaimed jazz albums-2012's "Freedom Flight", 2013's "Space and Time", and the 2014 EP "To The Spring"-which earned her comparisons to songwriters like Joan Baez and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Her duo album “Space & Time” featured Grammy-nominated pianists Gerald Clayton, Gil Goldstein and Fabian Almazan. The Ottawa Citizen’s Peter Hum described the recording as “fifty minutes of emotionally eventful, richly crafted music”.
Schrire took to the stage with her quintet at the 2018 Cape Town International Jazz Festival. She also performed her contemporary classical suite Escape: The Ingrid Jonker Suite, which sees Jonker’s poems set to music arranged for string quartet and voice, at the 2018 Suidoosterfees, the 2018 Franschhoek Literary Festival, and to a sold-out audience at the Norval Foundation in 2019. The suite was to receive its European premiere at the 2022 String Quartet Biennale in Amsterdam but, due to COVID, this performance was cancelled.
Schrire was delighted to be awarded a Canada Council for the Arts grant which supported the recording of her new album "Nowhere Girl", to be released in 2022. Produced by Grammy-nominated producer Oded Lev-Ari, the album features a rhythm section comprising Canadian trio Myriad3 (Ernesto Cervini, Dan Fortin, Chris Donnelly), saxophonist Tara Davidson, guest vocalist Laila Biali, and Mozambican guitarist Julio Sigauque (Freshlyground).
As a journalist and broadcaster, Schrire was a contributing host and producer for Toronto’s JazzFM.91 station, creating and presenting the weekly segment "This Bright North" from 2021 to 2022. She was a journalist for LondonJazz News for over a decade, and most recently produced and hosted the 14th season fo the original jazz interview podcast “The Jazz Session,” interviewing guests like Maria Schneider, Terence Blanchard, Artemis and Lars Danielsson. Most recently, she took up the role of Associate Producer at CBC Music.
Her work as an educator includes four years lecturing in Jazz Studies at the University of Cape Town and a year as Acting Head of the Jazz Voice Department. She has taught master classes and clinics in Dublin, New York and South Africa.
“In the crowded world of jazz vocals it helps to have a distinctive voice or a distinctive repertoire.
Schrire scores on both counts.”
- All About Jazz