Hardened by growing up in Communist Poland where she was beaten often by an alcoholic father has not dimmed the vibrant spirit of jazz singer-songwriter Yola Nash. Although oppression and obstacles have long been part of her existence, today she thrives in New York City where she hosts her own celeb-driven WABC Radio show and sings to touch people’s hearts, espousing inspiring messages that “love is most important” and “don’t give up on your dreams.” Her recently released second album, Touched By Love,
an intimate acoustic jazz set that oozes sensuality, passion and emotion, is being considered for nominations in two GRAMMY jazz categories: Album of the Year and Best Jazz Vocal Album.
Nash does everything a bit different than most recording artists. She rushed the release of the album that she produced with GRAMMY-winning jazz pianist Edsel Gomez
(Dee Dee Bridgewater) without the standard pre-release setup time required to crank up the promotional and publicity machines. Originally planned for a spring release before the COVID-19 pandemic delayed album completion, Nash forged ahead with her goal for Touched By Love
to make this year’s GRAMMY nomination submission deadline. While acknowledging that her release plans were handicapped by the virus, she is doggedly determined to make the best of her good fortune to be making records at all. So, she put her head down and went to work, making things happen.
“The way I do things is out of necessity. After growing up the way I did in Poland where virtually every aspect of life was restricted, attacked and discouraged with the purpose of making you feel worthless and hopeless—like you are in prison, I learned that I have to create my own way. I don’t have the same opportunities, the same circumstances or the same skills as others do so I have to find my own path. We all have our own challenges to overcome. When difficulties arise, and they always seem to, I find my way over or around them,” said Nash, who exudes joy and enthusiasm when speaking, usually with a bright, radiant smile.
Nash teamed with composers Dr. Graham Keir
(guitar) and Dr. Octavio Vazquez
to bring her vision for Touched By Love
to fruition. Gomez helped find her authentic musical voice, crafting warm and inviting acoustic jazz instrumental prosceniums before which Nash shares her poetic tales of love. GRAMMY-winning percussionist Luisito Quintero
(Chick Corea) and bassist Dave Baron
(Herbie Hancock) anchor the rhythmic grooves. Incorporating Nash’s Polish-European roots, GRAMMY nominee Alex Meixner adds accordion, fostering a rich multicultural ambience. It all comes together to create a moving listening experience about love from a woman whose optimistic message is about dreaming big and persevering over adversity. Nash describes it as her “dream album.”
As “Touched By Love” begins to gain traction at radio and mounts its ascent on the album charts, Nash has been making her extensive network of GRAMMY voters aware of the record with the hope of snagging a nomination. She’s plotting to shoot video clips for a couple of songs from the collection and has already started writing music for her next release. While her process may not be traditional, after all that she’s endured, Nash believes that she is still here for a reason.
“I’ve survived many difficult and painful circumstances, even situations that could have been deadly. Aside from my late mother, who was the force behind my passion for music and who I dedicated the album to, no one encouraged or believed in me. I had to learn to do that for myself. Despite all that I’ve been through, I’m going through life loving people and spreading love through music. Yes, those are love songs on Touched By Love,
but the love I write and sing about isn’t physical. It’s an all-encompassing, empowering kind of love.”
Praise for Yola Nash
“A left of center jazz vocalist with a wonderful underground/aggressive vibe delivers the goods on a sensual outing that’s dripping more sex than one disc should have to spare. Genre blending several things at once into a mind-bending whole…Hot stuff.” –Midwest Record
“What we get is the jazz singer-songwriter at her finest, on this intimate six-song acoustic set… thoroughly seductive, truly heartfelt.” –Exclusive Magazine