Jessi Nicholson
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Jessi Nicholson

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | SELF

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2007
Solo R&B Reggae


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Singer - Songwriter Jessi Nicholson"

Vancouver singer/songwriter Jessi Nicholson is a tall and sensual woman with a dynamite voice.

Of Ukrainian/Romanian ancestry with a kind of Canadian gypsy ness to her, she sings from deep within her soul – but also can be boisterous and full of earthy humor. Other times, she sounds as black and religious as Mahalia Jackson.

In the early 2000s, she embarked on a voyage of self-expression and musical self-discovery that brought her eventually to Vancouver. Along the way she left her small town prairie roots. She was born in Rouleau, Saskatchewan where the CTV comedy series Corner Gas is filmed. First she went to Regina, and then just over a decade later moved on to Vancouver.

Regina was a big creative step for her: after convincing a bistro owner to let her perform, she took a year of preparation during which time she created ten original songs. Her show was a sold-out success.

“My performance packed the place,” she told me. After that there were more projects in Regina but the blue Pacific had started to call her away from Saskatchewan. Think of it as a sort of coastal telegraph running under the Moon that fills the prairie sky.

Very often while working and performing in Regina, she had yearned to live in Vancouver. However, even though she is now here and looks very at home sitting in Stella's on The Drive, she hasn’t left behind the memories attached to the organic farm of her best friends back home. Her soul is well rooted and it now is as if she has an umbilical cord stretching all the way from Canada’s centre to its periphery in Vancouver.

Arriving on the coast was a very big adjustment for her. She told me that she had felt “stripped to the core!” upon her arrival in Vancouver. She also found herself feeling like a very little fish in a rather big pond.

Armed with her degree in Musical Education and being a Capricorn (which meant a need to be very grounded), she looked for and found work. The first place was a “survival” job. After sending her resume out to countless places, she found a position working in a clothing store at $8/hr. She has left that behind and now, for a regular source of income, she uses her degree to teach in Vancouver's School System as an Artist in Residence. This has been one among many other freelance contracts, including “Learning Through The Arts”, a program bringing core curriculum and fine arts together to make learning more creative and fun!

Such is the outline of Jessi Nicholson. Underneath there is, I believe (as I have experienced her), a woman who packs a wallop on a psychic level. In a sense, when Van Morrison (no stranger to soul himself) writes of “Queen(s) of the Slipstream”, he is talking of women like Nicholson. Powerful women. Women, whose worlds are visible and, when glistening, infiltrates into the realms of others’ lives – and dreams.

An example: A day or two after I had first become aware of Jessi Nicholson, had exchanged emails about an interview and had watched a video she had on My Space, I had the following dream:

I am back living at Capitol Hill and one day a beautiful black haired woman and I arrive back home at the same time, coming by our separate ways. This woman is very beautiful and looks somewhat East Indian or Caribbean – having kind of alternately wavy long black hair and a fine smile.

When we get there, she seems upset and is searching almost frantically for something. I too am looking for something and outside I find it -- a long somewhat oval shaped rock half buried in the earth. I remove it and it splits open into three more or less flat pieces. I take the middle one. The woman finds something too and we both leave.

However, she seems distressed that I have taken the middle rock, which has a kind of drum shape and is quite thin, from the earth. She says you should not joke about that – to which I respond that I am not joking and that I am very serious. At this point she warms to me.

This is the kind of dream I often have – a dream involving guides of one sort or another. I classified it as a dream of Capitol Hill, an area of North Burnaby where, in my 20s and 30s, I had many creative breakthroughs. It was also a dream with a narrator. Perhaps most importantly, it was a dream associated with an archetypal character I call Sacred Sister Of My Heart.

So I wrote to her about the dream because I was pretty sure she was behind it. Her answer:

Rod -

Thank you for this. It is rare that people share their dreams; especially dreams that have a bit of a spiritual flare - by spiritual I mean "the soul".

I have often been asked if I am Black or if I am First Nations or even Spanish. I am, however, Romanian/Ukrainian - that's right - gypsy history and strong like ox. (although I am not much of a gypsy...I do have the feeling of being an old soul.)

I am very connected to the Earth and its energy. I am also a Capricorn so it would make sense that I would, in your dream, be protective of something found in the Earth. A drum to me is like a heartbeat - and you know, at this time in my life… my heart is what is keeping in line with my truth. Now more than ever, I am having to zone in to that inner voice. It's telling me that now is the time - the music is waiting - I just have to channel it.”

In the last little while, Jessi Nicholson has been exploring the labyrinth of her own music. She has been seeking her own unique source of creativity. She told me that her recent gig at the Backstage Lounge had been perfect for her.

Of the performance, she said that she knew, “That it was my "new beginning". I was well received, and sweetly reminded that I am supposed to be playing that music - my music. Just me and my piano (for now).”

Her first big break on the West Coast was a part in a show called Dregs: Rock Bottom – a musical written and presented by Buff Schemmer about life on the streets of Vancouver. She wrote a song “Freedom” which was added (by Schemmer) to open the second act of this musical and the song was used in a scene about prostitutes fighting to survive. Tragically Schemmer later took his own life. A biography was written about his life, entitled “Take Him To The Stars”. A year later, Jessi sang the song from the musical “Take Them [Him] To The Stars” at a memorial and also spoke to those in attendance of her experiences with Buff and how he gave her a chance to make music in Vancouver.

Since then, she has been involved in a few different projects including:

“Soul Sistahs” lead by Jena Fair, the “Vandivas” and “Clancy’s Angels”.

However, she is now focusing soley on her own material and putting her creative energies toward her solo album. She wishes her past projects and their members all the best in their endeavors.

Coming up on April 30th she has a gig at the Back Stage Lounge. She has organized a show with two other women – one who just calls herself Red, and Hillary Grist. The Backstage Lounge April gig is already turning into what appears to be a series entitled “Rooted: Songwriter Series”, with a slogan that says “Through the roots from the ground grows a soulful sound!” A few days after our original interview, she told me that: “Our April 30th show is secure and I am already planning the next one for June - also at Backstage. It will feature Heidi McCurdy and Chantel Upshaw as well as myself. I am using these shows as a platform to hopefully book in other places as well. The more I dig, the more I see that there are other original artists (male & female) very interested in being a part of a triple bill show!”

So what is a good song to Jessi Nicholson?

Jessi feels that it is one in which the audience members, no matter what their ages, are drawn to. She recently had this experience when she performed at the Aberdeen Mall in Richmond. One of the greatest parts of that show was one in which she got involved in the old “call and response” dynamic! Audience members including children, teens, adults and seniors got involved in the response. She was singing her song Freedom at the time, which has the lyrics:

Freedom in my soul and spirit to help me rise above
the things that hold me down from breathin'
This just ain't enough
And if I can find a way out of this place
You will see my Queen again yeah you will get a taste

Rod Drown
Grab News Online Magazine
- Rod Drown - Grab News Online Magazine

"Jessi Nicholson will make ya swoon!"

December 12th, 2009

Alright, it may seem a bit far fetched to start off a post about a soul singer with a throw back to Kris Kross, but when you hear Jessi Nicholson perform you know that anything is possible.

I specifically went to the Bavubuka Passion Project fundraiser at Raw Canvas a few Saturday’s ago because I heard that Jessi Nicholson would be performing.

Catching Jessi on stage is like catching a train to a place where the furniture is made of candy and the air is all music. Take some soul, funk and reggae and mix that with something only Jessi can bring and you feel christened into this new world where candy is sustenance and deepening your soul is as easy as rocking your hips.

*You can hear Jessi live this Sunday at Falconetti’s at 8pm and at the Backstage Lounge on December 18th. It might just be the nicest gift you can give yourself this season.

In the new year, M2M on CJSF 90.1fm will be featuring a show all about Jessi Nicholson as she hitches her own star to her upcoming CD release and dreams of touring western Canada -to her roots and back.

In between sets I spoke to Jessi Nicholson. The following is an excerpt of her talking about her music. (Preamble: I gushed at her for three minutes about feeling changed hearing her perform and then finally asked a question: why sing about what she does and how do people react?)

To hear interview, go to: - Laurie Dawson - Ledbrow Online

"Ronatron Music Reviews/Music BC - June 4, 2009"

Thursday nights are always the worst. Everyone is lethargic, but eagerly anticipating the beloved serenity known as the weekend. I have no weekends, so it doesn’t really affect me too much (no rest for the wicked right?), but I’m assuming the majority of the working force goes by a 9-5 Monday to Friday schedule, so the last day before the weekend starts is always the toughest to get by. All anyone wants is to go out and party, but the MAN tells you otherwise.You’re either slowly dying or living your life, take your pick, but you have to rebellious once in a while right? I prefer the later, so when Jessi Nicholson asked me to come out to her show at The Backstage Lounge, who was I to say no?
The night started off with a nice big band called 11 Hour Orchestra. They blew me away with their unique sound, and I must say, their frontman Dave is probably one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. His voice was soulful and tranquil, and when he busted out some freestyle, I couldn’t help but be amazed at his quick and intelligent lyrics.

Jessi came on afterwards to a packed crowd at The Backstage Lounge. It’s not every Thursday this venue gets crammed, so I bow down to you Jessi for bringing out such a huge and supportive audience.
Of course Jessi wasn’t the only one up on that stage. She had a supporting band comprised of Ryan Davis (Drums), Dave Spidel (Bass), Julian Pattison (Keys), Randy Ponzio from “Quest Poetics” (Guitar), and Megan Phillips & Coralie Rose (BG Vocals). The spotlight shined on all the musicians, and wasn’t focused solely on Jessi. It was more of a band dynamic, as opposed to a solo performance, where each member showcased their talent. Randy played amazing solo after solo, all the while rapping and working the crowd. Dave, who’s also the bass player for Eric Solomon, matched Randy’s solo with one of his own and wowed the audience with his intricate bass lines. Back-up singers Megan and Coralie created beautiful harmonies to coincide with Jessi’s majestic and soulful voice.
And it being Jessi’s night, she performed with passion and energy that really kept the crowd moving. She has one of those amazingly powerful voices that could hold a note for all of eternity (if she wanted to of course…) and shatter glass (not a good idea to do in a bar…). She truly reminded me of Juno award winning artist Divine Brown and at times, even reminded me a little bit of the Jackson 5 (strange I know, but I can only tell you what I hear!). It seemed effortless every time she struck a note, but it wasn’t her talent that amazed me the most. Sure she has an amazing voice, but she was also gracious for all the support she got that night. For her to take the time and thank the audience, and truly mean it, was good enough for me to be impressed.
- Ron Cheng (Vancouver, BC)


Nicholson embarks on journey
Singer/songwriter to debut new show at Tsawwassen Arts Centre next Saturday
Dave Willis, The Delta Optimist
Published: Saturday, December 06, 2008

South Delta is one of the stops on Jessi Nicholson's journey.

The singer, songwriter and pianist will be at the Tsawwassen Arts Centre next Saturday with her band for the premiere performance of Journey into Eye, a live concert that represents some new avenues of music for Nicholson.

"The songs represent the journey that we're all on in life and more specifically, as people who are endeavouring to be creative or artists. Everybody has their own individual journey."
Singer/songwriter Jessi Nicholson will debut her show, titled Journey into Eye, at the Tsawwassen Arts Centre next Saturday.View Larger Image View Larger Image
Singer/songwriter Jessi Nicholson will debut her show, titled Journey into Eye, at the Tsawwassen Arts Centre next Saturday.

The music in the show is a combination of soul and funk combined with a "hint of jazz and a hint of gypsy," says Nicholson, who notes she has Romanian gypsy roots.

"Part of that, I guess, is when you think about ... your journey, it's as much about looking into the future as it is looking into your history."

There's even some reggae, a "new facet" of what she's exploring in music, worked into the mix.

Nicholson, who came to the West Coast from Saskatchewan and who lists artists like Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder, Esthero, Etta James and Eva Cassidy as musical influences, aims to connect with the audience.

"The show is made to be a genuine storytelling, not only about my own journey but also trying to draw a parallel between what I'm going through and what every person in the audience is going through," she says. "I talk about things like stepping into your power, healing old wounds, and also discovering and embracing your own authentic truth, the truth of who you are."

She intends to perform "as much as possible" in the Lower Mainland and other parts of B.C. and possibly head back to Saskatchewan for some shows.

Nicholson, who's had numerous performances in Vancouver and has been involved in a few different musical projects, is now working on her first full-length CD.

She hopes to release the album, also titled Journey into Eye, "at some point between 2009 and 2010.

"It's definitely a slow process, speaking with producers [and] just making a lot of small decisions along to the way that will hopefully lead to exactly what I'm looking for," Nicholson says.

Opening acts for the Tsawwassen show include Chantel Upshaw and Paige Kieselbach.

Nicholson thinks highly of Upshaw's work.

"I think the woman is brilliant. Her music is unique. It's sort of soul/pop but she's got her own flare. She's definitely a storyteller. She's just got a fluid vocal range that brings you in and doesn't let you go until the bitter end."

Kieselbach, a 16-year-old from Richmond, is a vocal student of Nicholson's.

A former top five finalist in the David Foster Star Search contest, this will be Kieselbach's first time as an opening performer.

"She's definitely somebody who needs to be heard," says Nicholson.

The show is set for Saturday, Dec. 13 at 8 p.m. at the Tsawwassen Arts Centre, 1172-56th St. Tickets cost $20 in advance or $22 at the door for adults and $18 in advance or $20 at the door for students. Call 604-943-9787 for tickets.

To hear samples of Nicholson's music visit

Check out or for more information. - Dave Willis - Delta Optimist


Solo EP Release coming 2012.

All Love Album
Released February 2012
Living Society Records
"Healing From The Inside" - featured track
"Foundation" - ATMA - featured vocalist .

CBC Radio 3
Streamed Tracks
"Healing From The Inside"
"I Choose"

Radio Airplay
"Freedom" CFRO Radio (Vancouver)

Movie Soundtrack "Good People, Bad Things"
10% Shares - SONG: "Lonely With You" and "Wait"
Opine Entertainment / ASCAP



Jessi Nicholson is one of those rare gems you find when you least expect it, mixing earthiness and sass! Her refreshing approach to life and music act as a gentle reminder to stay tuned in to what's really important. Jessi communicates on a SOUL level and with an authenticity in her music, her audiences are inspired to resonate with her; she resonates right back and it becomes an exchange. Music for Jessi is a way of life and allows her to be of service to others, utilizing this gift as a healing power which she channels from the higher source.

Whether performing with her own band or with other groups, she is passionate! Highlights include Opening Act for R&B Sensation, "Ne-Yo", Hope Music Festival, Regina Folk Festival, 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Connect Electronic Music Festival, and performing in Toronto during the 2010 Canadian Music Week, featuring saxophonist Trent Reschny (Jully Black) and guitarist Mark Pellizer (Jason Mraz).

Jessi elevates her listeners through positive thought as she stirs souls, expands minds and penetrates hearts. She creates space for rare intimacy and energy offering intricately written background vocals which decorate her smooth, soulful sound. A warm mix of soul/r&b/reggae and her music's ability to reach any age, connect her to anyone who is moved by conscious music. Her true calling on this Earth has been written. The rest is up to the Universe.