Shahida Nurullah has a right to sing the blues. Considering she lost both her parents as a teenager, raised her brother when she was practically a child herself, and suffered debilitating injuries in an accident that nearly ended her life. She sings jazz, samba, bossa nova, show tunes, and more. Her vocal talent surpasses the challenge of any music in the popular American songbook. Not to mention challenging the language barrier to sing in three different languages. Her skill has wowed audiences from her native Detroit to New York to Paris to Amsterdam and further.
When internationally lauded pianist Geri Allen created the band Open On All Sides, she chose Shahida to be her vocalist. When the band toured without the alto saxophonist from Allen’s critically acclaimed recording, “In the Middle,” Shahida sang the alto lines. Shahida’s vocal talent has been praised in Downbeat magazine, the New York Times, the Detroit Free Press and Finland’s Rytmi magazine, which included her name in a poll alongside such legends as Sarah Vaughan and fellow Detroiter Betty Carter. Like everything else, Shahida has been more than equal to the task, returning to the stage with a triumphant appearance at the Montreux Detroit Jazz Festival and numerous southeast Michigan club appearances and even winning a starring role in a staging of the musical play “After Hours: Great Legends! Great Music!”
In spite of her challenges Shahida has maintained a beautiful spirit and joie de vivre. And she now carries some of the coolest canes that ever assisted the stroll and strut of anyone. Each of them has a story of its own. Shahida is a collector of Josephine Baker memorabilia, antiques, Tramp Art and editions of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. In fact, her interest in book collecting led her to join the Book Club of Detroit, a group of bibliophiles — even serving a term as president of the organization. She also volunteers with ProLiteracy Detroit. Shahida’s latest recording “The Ruby and the Pearl” is the culmination of a lifetime of music and incredible experiences. Its intimacy, detailed craft and joyful rendering serves as a tribute to great songs and her never-ending search for material equal to her vocal skills. Next, Shahida partnered with saxophonist Larry Nozero to create the Jobim Project – dedicated to the music of Brazilian master Antonio Carlos Jobim. ‘I never knew anyone else who cared about Jobim’s music as much as I did,” said Nurullah of Nozero. “I was looking forward to doing that for many years.” However, after only a few performances, the illness and death of Nozero cut the project short.