Yanofsky returned to her roots at TO, Montreal jazz festivals
July 5, 2011 | Jewish Tribune
TORONTO – Montreal jazz singer Nikki Yanofsky headlined both Montreal (July 2) and Toronto jazz festivals (July 3) this past weekend, marking her return home to Canada after performing the past six months in Europe and the United States.
The 17-year-old Yanofsky, famous for singing I Believe before millions of viewers to open the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, was happy to return to her roots – performing at the two jazz festivals that kicked off her career when she was only 13.
“I will never forget my very first shows in the Montreal and Toronto jazz festivals and those steps began my career,” said Yanofsky in a phone interview.
Her fame and career has risen in the past four years. She took a giant step to ensure a long career by touring with show jazz legends Jane Monheit and Dianne Reeves in the United States last winter before going to England and France this spring.
Undaunted by performing with singers old enough to be her mother and grandmother, Yanofsky sang and scatted five songs from her latest CD Nikki, proving herself worthy of comparison to the veteran singers.
It is Yanofsky's fast maturing voice and skill more than the novelty of being so young that is generating the applause and praise of critics and fellow singers.
“I never take anything for granted. To be compared to great singers and performing on stage with them, well, I can’t get over it. It’s like nothing I’ve ever dreamed and everything I ever hoped for and it’s all happening so quickly and is so much fun,” beamed Yanofsky.
Along the way, Yanofsky was mentored by many other Jewish artists, including Marvin Hamlisch, who featured her at age 14 at a Carnegie Hall performance in New York.
Another memorable night for Yanofsky took place when she sang On A Clear Day in honour of her idol Barbra Streisand last February at the Grammy Awards.
“To perform for Barbra Streisand, well, that is a dream come true. My mother and I saw all her films from Funny Girl to Yentl and to share the stage in her honour with Herbie Hancock, Barry Manilow and Stevie Wonder was a special moment for me. There is no singer alive that can be as perfect as Barbra Streisand.”
Yanofsky won praise last August performing at the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat, Israel – a country that provoked much sentiment for her.
“Performing in Israel was so moving,” she said. “How can anyone, Jewish or not Jewish, not feel connected to the people there? I enjoyed not only performing there, but seeing all the landmarks in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. I definitely want to come back to Israel as often as possible.”
Although Yanofsky did not have a bat mitzvah, she is close-knit with her parents Richard and Elyssa, who manage her career, and support many Jewish causes, such as the Israel Cancer Research Fund.
Yanofsky headlined the Montreal Jazz Festival last Saturday, 8:30 p.m. at Place des Arts and the Toronto Jazz Festival on Sunday. 8:30 p.m. at Metro Square Main Stage.