Veronica Nunn is a veteran jazz vocalist who has been active on the New York City jazz scene since the late '70s and has performed extensively with the well-known singer/composer Michael Franks. Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan, Abbey Lincoln, and Billie Holiday are among the jazz vocalists who reviewers have cited as direct or indirect influences on Nunn, but the singer has stressed that her major influences are not only vocalists, but instrumentalists as well. In fact, Nunn has emphasized that tenor saxophonists John Coltrane, Hank Mobley, Lester Young, Ben Webster, and Gene Ammons were as important to her musical development as singers. Nunn has said that her singing has been greatly affected by "the horn players who had really warm tones" as well as by pianist McCoy Tyner.
Although Nunn has spent much of her life in New York City, she is not a native New Yorker; Nunn was born and raised in Little Rock, AR. Growing up in the Deep South, Nunn listened to a great deal of jazz but was also heavily into soul, funk, rock, blues, and gospel. In 1978, she moved to the Big Apple and supported herself with a non-musical job at Gimbels department store on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Nunn started making inroads in the music world in 1979, when she met bandleader/tenor saxophonist/singer George Walker, aka Big Nick Nicholas, at the West Village jazz club Sweet Basil. Nicholas, a seasoned jazz veteran who had been playing professionally since the '40s, was a teacher of Coltrane in the '50s (Coltrane paid tribute to him by writing "Big Nick" in 1962), and he did a lot to help Nunn. Nicholas (who passed away in 1997 at the age of 75) became Nunn's mentor, introducing her to well-known jazz musicians such as vibist Red Norvo, trombonist/guitarist Eddie Durham, and pianist Roger "Ram" Ramirez (best known for writing the Billie Holiday-associated standard "Lover Man").
Nunn, who sang with Nicholas' band extensively in the '80s, was offered full scholarships to the Juilliard School of Music in New York City and the Berklee College of Music in Boston, but she turned both of them down in order to study theology at Lehman College in the Bronx. Nonetheless, Nunn continued to perform jazz on a regular basis, and in 1993, she began a long association with Franks. Famous for gems like "When Sly Calls (Don't Touch That Phone)," "Rainy Night in Tokyo," and "Popsicle Toes," Franks invited Nunn to tour with him internationally and has featured her in concerts all over the world. Another person Nunn met in the '90s was jazz pianist Travis Shook, who she married and has spent a lot of time collaborating with. In 2000, Nunn produced her debut album, American Lullaby, which featured Shook and was released on his label, Dead Horse Records. In early 2007, Dead Horse released Nunn's second album, Standard Delivery, another disc that was produced by Nunn and featured Shook on piano. ~ Alex Henderson