Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

pixeltracker

It was a special night for a basement full of people on Pride Sunday, thanks to one joyful jazz singer.

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

The last time Nicole Henry was on the stage of Feinstein's/54 Below was in 2020 when she presented her Whitney Houston tribute show I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY. Returning to the supper club for two performances this month, Ms. Henry's new act FEELING GOOD is a tribute to someone closer to home: Nicole Henry.

Anytime a singer does a tribute show, they run the risk of comparison to the original artist, naturally. Henry, a jazz singer by definition but a singer whose style is easily equated with that of a pop singer, is a statuesque black woman of almost unbelievable beauty whose voice sits in a similar place to that of Whitney Houston, so even though her Houston show is a musical play about how Whitney informed Nicole's life as a woman and an artist, it comes with a lovely set of luggage that ties her to the legendary singer. Audiences will have a preconceived tendency to have Houston and Henry in the listening room inside their heads, at all times. Thanks to this show, Feeling Good, the only woman on the stage is Nicole, and the crowd gets to see many of the facets that make this rare jazz jewel shine so brightly.

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below Nicole Henry brings a lot onto the stage when she arrives to do a show. Aside from having a voice that is beautiful from birth, Henry has trained her instrument to go places of such variety as to cause one to reflect on the ability of one voice to cover a lot of musical territory. With stellar Shedrick Mitchell serving as musical director and pianist, Ms. Henry runs the gamut from Rodgers and Hammerstein (and Hart, too, just by the way) to Stevie Wonder, serving up jazz arrangements of standards that pay homage to a more traditional sound while, simultaneously, pushing an envelope of innovation, allowing Nicole to do right by jazz aficionados and songbook lovers, as well as her artistic mission to tell the old stories from her point of view. Meanwhile, Nicole has treats tucked away for later in her set, when she progresses her razor-smooth performances of music from the past into some recognizable compositions from the likes of George Michael, Stevie Wonder, and, yes, even Whitney Houston. But the arrangements! Audible sigh. Tailor-made to provide Nicole with more than just a chance to sing, the music provided by Mitchell, guitarist Avi Rothbard, bassist Daniel Winshall, and drummer Ele Howell was ripe for dancing (which Nicole did a lot of) and telling stories in prose (which Nicole did a lot of) and flirting (which Nicole did a lot of) and every bit of it was delicious.

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below Did you ever watch an actor and find yourself sighing, leaning into them, being swept into their aura? Maybe it was a Diane Lane movie or a Viola Davis TV show, perhaps you were watching Alex D. Wong dance or Adam Rodriguez do anything... and you just turned into a moony-eyed puppy. That's the Nicole Henry experience. So powerful is her charisma, so unique is her personality, so rich is her music, so abandoned is her joy that you can't watch her without being drawn in. And that's before you even get around to the acting. One of Nicole Henry's greatest assets is her commitment to the lyrics she is singing. In truth, Henry's commitment to everything is full-force - to her music, to her race, to her sex, to her life, to her colleagues, and to her fans: when Nicole steps up onto the stage, there is nothing less than absolute dedication to what is happening in the moment, whether she is getting cheeky with "When Did You Leave Heaven?" or mourning the loss of happiness with "Little Girl Blue." Always, her focus is on the lyric, even while putting her musical training on the front burner to provide immaculate audible enjoyment. She is the definition of strength within stillness in her work and in the personality that she bestows upon her audience. She is well-matched with her director, WILL NUNZIATA, who always guides her well but who, this time around, clearly encouraged her to go out and have some fun, showing the audience more of Nicole Henry than they had, perhaps, ever seen before.

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below And fun was exactly what she had when she spotted some close friends in the audience, one of whom she coaxed onto the stage with her for an encore of "I'm Every Woman" ... as a duet. Maybe it was sisterly devotion, maybe it was Gay Pride, maybe it was just to send the 54 Below crowd home with a memory they would never forget, but when La Chanze slipped out of her booth and up onto the stage, she made a great night at 54 Below one of the best nights ever. You just never know what's going to happen at a Nicole Henry show, and that's part of the thrill of being there - but it's only a part of it. All the rest comes right from Nicole Henry herself.

Nicole Henry returns to Feinstein's/54 Below September 14th with I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY - for information and tickets visit the 54 Below website HERE.

Visit the Nicole Henry website HERE.

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Nicole Henry Leaves Her Audience FEELING GOOD! at Feinstein's/54 Below

Photos by Stephen Mosher.


Related Articles View More Cabaret Stories

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes & More

From This Author Stephen Mosher