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Nichaud Fitzgibbon

Nichaud was born in the small country town of Wycheproof in North Western Victoria. Known for its "King of the Mountain" potato sack race, Nichaud is now its most famous export. Her mother, Faye Hommelhoff, grew up there and comes from a family with Danish and French heritage. Nichaud is a fourth generation performer and it goes without saying that as a member of the renowned jazz and showbiz Fitzgibbon family, music is in her fiesty Irish blood.

At an early age Nichaud was surrounded by music of the 20s and 30s that played nightly at the club run by her father Smacka Fitzgibbon. The beloved Australian jazz musician and entertainer started his career playing banjo with Graeme Bell and Len and Bob Barnard. Smacka's Place was to become Melbourne's most famous jazz club in the 1970's. Grandmother Minnie was a 'soubrette' - a child performer in vaudeville. She was also a wonderful stride pianist who encouraged Nichaud and her three brothers to play music. Nichaud's aunt, Maggie Fitzgibbon, started her career as a soprano in the Tivoli theatre and then moved to London to star on television and in West End musicals. Nichaud's brother Mark is one of Australia's finest jazz pianists and is her collaborator and musical director.

Nichaud's musical destiny can not only be put down to a natural family inheritance but also to the fact she was lucky enough to sit on Louis Armstrong 's knee at the age of three! Smacka and his band were there to greet Pop's at the airport when he first came to Australia. Nichaud's earliest memory of music was hearing her mother playing a Billie Holiday record and the song she loved most was 'What A Little Moonlight'. Her father's record collection was a big influence. She listened to the sounds of The Boswell sisters, Louis Armstrong, Al Bowly and The Chocolate Dandies and later developed her style while listening to Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Anita O'Day, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra.

Nichaud started performing with her brother Mark in the early '80s and worked at all the regular jazz venues and festivals around town. Vince Jones gave Nichaud her first television appearance when he invited her to be his special guest on 'The Don Burrow's Jazz Series' for the ABC. In 1985 Nichaud moved to London and during her three year stay performed at various clubs and festivals, a highlight being an impromptu performance with legendary tenor saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders at Ronnie Scott's jazz club. After returning to Melbourne in 1988 and working with various bands she formed 'Yoyo' an original funk band with trumpeter Gavin Cornish and her brother Andrew the drummer in the family. For the next three years the Yoyo Thursday night gig became an institution at The Esplande Hotel in St. Kilda. An invitation to work with Australian rock star James Reyne gave Nichaud the opportunity to join his national tour as backing vocalist. She then worked extensively on television shows including The Big Gig series on the ABC and Tonight Live with Steve Vizard under the musical direction of Paul Grabowsky. Nichaud has also appeared on Good Morning Australia with Bert Newton and the ABC's The Pulse jazz series which showcased Australia's finest jazz artists live in concert.

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