You have the right to remain entertained when sublime jazz vocalist Nicky Steel and the Art Deco Dance Orchestra apprehend audiences with their show 'Sway' at The Lounge in Brisbane.
A performer nursing a lifelong love for jazz, Nicky brings her own touch of class to a beloved repertoire of classics and standards.
As well as being a singer, Nicky is also a proud-serving member of the Queensland Police Service who has been able to combine her love for performing with her expertise in policing, making her a formidable combination of delightful and deadly.
We take some time with Nicky to ask about her various roles, what she and the Art Deco Dance Orchestra have planned for 'Sway' and her favourite song for taking down criminals.
Tell us a little about yourself as a vocalist and performer...
I was originally classically trained in New Zealand and came to be singing Jazz after my school teacher, Mick Morgan, saw me performing on a talent show at Channel 9. He was in the show's band and was running a Jazz Ensemble at Brisbane State High School. He subsequently approached me at school as he needed a vocalist. It was a slow journey from classical singing to jazz and I initially found it quite difficult to realise that, unlike opera, you could basically pull time and melody around as you liked, so long as you started and finished together! That was way back in 1983 and I have been performing ever since in a variety of areas: I was in a seven-piece vocal group called SCAT! and worked as a session singer for many years. I also performed in the Allan Brown Big Band for over 20 years and am now working locally and overseas.
What’s been keeping you busy so far this year?
Singing in and around Brisbane (solo, duo and trio) at a variety of venues from sports clubs to lounge bars. I am also forming a five-piece band to be called Velvet Muse to continue my love of jazz. A highlight this year will also be heading to Abu Dhabi in November to sing at a few private functions during the Formula 1 GP.
What do you and the Art Deco Dance Orchestra have planned for The Lounge in August?
Well we are calling the evening ‘Sway’ and, as that name suggests, the music will be certainly able to get you moving. Jazz standards and beloved favourites from some of the greatest female artists of the era.
A song that breaks your heart?
I would have to say ‘Good-Bye’ by Gordon Jenkins – it was featured on Linda Ronstadt's album ‘Whats New’ with the Nelson Riddle orchestra.
Are you the same Nicky Steel who is/was also a Sergeant in the Queensland Police force?
Yes I am still in the QPS and now work as an Instructor at the Driving Skills Section.
How does music and performing help you cope with the tremendous stress of police work?
Music eases stress for all people regardless of their occupation I think. I have combined both policing and singing, at times, at formal QPS events and induction parades.
Best music/songs to soundtrack apprehending criminals? ('I Fought The Law', for example?)
I guess the stereotypical answer would be ‘Bad Boys’ but ‘Nowhere To Run’ would fit just as nicely!
A song that should be outlawed?
Too many to name but perhaps 'Baby Shark'? Bet you’ve got that stuck in your head now!
Your greatest onstage moment or experience as a performer?
There are two; I was a member of the New Zealand National Youth Choir in 1982 and performed for Prince Charles with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa in Wembley Cathedral. The second is when the Allan Brown Big Band supported Harry Connick Junior at (the then) Jupiters Casino.
Are you working on an album or any new music?
I don’t write music but enjoy putting a different flavour on well-known songs. Once the band is gelling I would certainly love to capture our work in the studio.