Kim Rene Nalley was born November 14, 1971 in San Francisco, California but was raised in New Haven, Connecticut in a musical family that includes jazz drummer and photographer Reggie Jackson and R&B guitarist-vocalist Earl Whitaker. She received piano lessons from her great-grandmother and originally pursued classical voice, studying drama and opera at the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven. She went on to study classical music at Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.
At Holy Cross, Nalley sang with the power rock combo The Limit, which featured Crusader musicians Garrett Scott Flynn, Steve Guerette, Jim Januzzi, Allan Harper and Anthony O’Donnell. Switching to jazz shortly after moving to San Francisco, while attended UC Berkeley, she sang in the Cal Big Band, as well as receiving a See’s Candy’ Scholarship for Outstanding Musicianship.
Kim performed weekly at the Alta Plaza and director Michael Tilson Thomas discovered and recorded her in concert and hired her to sing a program of Gershwin tunes with the San Francisco Symphony. She began performing with the Johnny Nocturne Band for the Rounder/ Bullseye label, went on national and international tours, relocate to Switzerland, but returned to save the club Jazz at Pearl’s from going out of business.
Citing the Little Rascals and Bug Bunny cartoons as her seminal jazz influences, jazz and blues singer, actress, historian and former Jazz at Pearl’s club owner Kim Nalley, known for her powerful 3½ octave range, scatting, r&b, spirituals and folk guitar, continues to perform and record.
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