Praises for Nicole Zuraitis’ vocals typically include words such as “amazing,” “expressive,” “captivating,” and “unparalleled.” The accomplished artist has a Bachelor of Music from New York University in classical vocal performance and, to date, has released two albums that are nothing short of stunning. Zuraitis has shared the stage with some of the most respected names in jazz music and she frequently performs at a number of Manhattan’s top rooms. But despite her oft-lauded artistry, something didn’t feel quite right.
“I was struggling with my sense of purpose as a musician, often times self criticizing about being too self indulgent or not doing enough to help others,” Nicole confided. “It was always, ‘Come see MY show’ or ‘Buy MY new CD.’”
As fate would have it, this past summer Nicole performed a show with her drummer/string arranger, Dan Pugach, and her cinematographer/violinist, Andrei Matorin, at a home for people suffering from severe dementia. It was a show that had a profound impact on her. “Before we began, the audience sat dormant, looking forlorn, confused, lost,” Nicole recalled. “But after we began, the entire audience came to life: remembering lyrics, dancing, smiling! It was a very powerful moment for me as I realized the true value of the arts. I was so moved that I went home and wrote the lyrics to ‘For the Lonely.’”
Zuraitis’ song is a stirring piece of art that is, at once, delicate and powerful. There is a sweet melancholy in the gentle waltz rhythm and Nicole’s rich vocal timbre effortlessly pilots the soaring melody to give the song a rousing lift. Crescendos swirl to dramatic heights, then delicately ebb away to a poignant calm.
“This song is so special to me because it serves as my homage to everyone who is NOT an artist, poet, dancer, or musician by trade, but who still looks to the arts for a sense of relief and rejuvenation.”
There are three characters in Nicole’s video. The first is a woman (played by Bree Douty) who has been left by her boyfriend and finds comfort in music. The second character (played by Ryan Scoble) is a “flamboyant, free spirit who loves to dance, and even though he’s not particularly good at it, he still loves to move!” The third character was inspired by Nicole’s late grandfather, he is an older man (played by E. Penniman James) who paints the memory of his wife as a tribute. The three characters travel through a world that shows little concern for the lonely and hurting, but a single song makes its way to these individuals, touching each in a way that instils a renewed sense of hope and joy.
“None of the characters would be featured on E News or Dancing with the Stars. Nor would The MoMA [The Museum of Modern Art] dedicate space for an exhibition, but my point is . . . who cares!? The ability to create is the exact reason why the arts are important to society.”
Zuraitis performs from a place of serenity while her voice radiates a robust, infectious warmth that infuses the music with the compassion needed to give the song meaning and purpose.
In closing, Nicole stated, “I am a spiritual person with no chosen religion and I appreciate the day to day miracles that happen within life. In the song I ask ‘why do we look to the sky when lonely?’ as a gentle reminder that there is so much unknown in the world and beyond the world, that looking up and asking ‘Why’ or ‘What?’ or ‘How!!?’ is only natural, especially in a time of need.”
Watch Nicole’s video, “For the Lonely,” then, for more information on this gifted artist, visit: