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Blending the incredible jazz gospel vibe of Jonathan Butler and Kirk Whalum and the melodic and funk sensibilities of Brian Culbertson with a dynamic and innovative keyboard style all his own, Goldsboro, North Carolina native Nicholas Cole helps usher in the next generation of contemporary jazz artists with his compelling independently released debut album A Journey of One. Showing remarkable poise, melodic invention and improvisational jazz skills for a 17-year-old musician, Nicholas self-produced the remarkable 12 track project which was executive produced by his singer/songwriter father, Leon Cole. Having played piano and organ in church since the age of four, Nicholas brings a unique variety of secular and spiritual musical influences to the project. Quickly recognized for his gifts while attending Rhema Christian Academy, the pianist was asked by the principal to become the official musician for all school events. He currently attends and performs at Mt. Zion Church Ministries in Goldsboro.
While it was Nicholas’ extended church family that encouraged and inspired his dream of recording his own album, the young artist gives all the glory to God as if he is simply a vessel for a greater purpose. “I didn’t just want to make some nice grooves in the studio,” he says, “I really wanted to write and play music that came from the heart. God gave me the gift to play, and so naturally I write and play music that comes from a very spiritual place, as if it’s put on my heart and I am given the opportunity to express it. There is a deep connection between jazz and gospel and while the album is predominantly a contemporary jazz project, I incorporate a lot of gospel riffs and chord progressions.” Nicholas credits his musical influences as a source for inspiration on the project—including smooth jazz stars Culbertson, Peter White and Brian Simpson and renowned gospel greats Fred Hammond, Kirk Franklin, Walter Hawkins, Yolanda Adams and producer Kevin Bond.