Ruth Nichols

Ruth Nichols

Musician, Singer, Dancer

June 30, 2015


Tell us more about some of your past projects:

When I lived in Denver for 4-5 years, I was in a wonderful band called In Due Time. There were eight of us; we all sang and offered up other random talents like rapping, percussion, stand up comedy, songwriting, arranging, and of course, the horn section was my favorite.  Since moving back home, I have worked with many different musicians and friends. Gabe Rios and I put on a show last June at the Ohio Theater. The Estar Cohen Project and my quintet, Ruth Nichols Five, performed for a decent crowd.  Two years ago, Gabe and I put on a show with my group at the old BeBop Records.  My quartet covered jazz and world music selections, the place was packed! I've also performed as a swing-dancing partner for several fun events, from the MGM Grand in Detroit to a few weddings in Ohio. 

What current projects are you working on?

Currently, I've been performing in duo or trio settings. I have a few trios I really love to work with: Ruth with Steve Knurek and Tim Oehlers; Ruth with Kyle Turner and Michael Reed/Nelson Overton II; Trio Cleo - Ruth with Ben Maloney and Travis Aukerman. I am very fortunate to be able to have a great group of jazz guys to work with! The trios vary not only in instrumentation, but certain trios play certain songs from my repertoire and not others.  The vibe can be very different for each show, which keeps things fresh for myself. 


What advantages does living in Toledo offer for your creative efforts?

Cheap rent is always great, so there’s that, but I also have a tight group of wonderful friends that support my musical aspirations.  Some may gripe about pay or lack of work, but I have found Toledo restaurants/bars/patrons to be exceptionally welcoming to live music.  It's not easy to find a venue that will welcome jazz music, so I am thankful in that regard to Toledo. 


Tell us about one of your greatest successes.

Making it through grad school was one of my greatest challenges, and I am proud to say I finished and have another degree.  With that said, I no longer believe in the education system, as it is a cash cow today and offers few post-graduation incentives to students - such as job opportunities, which would validate the whole experience of earning a degree in the first place. 


Who or what gives you inspiration?  

My fellow musicians give me inspiration - I absolutely love the people I get to work with musically! Amazing concerts, records and festivals like the Detroit Jazz Fest inspire me.


Tell us about your background: 

I was born in Wahiawa, Hawaii. I have an amazing sister,  Heidi Zavala. My dad, Dan (from Detroit) is a music teacher at Ida Public School, my mom — originally from Denver, CO— is a nurse for a few hospitals.  I grew up in Blissfield, MI for the most part, went to Adrian College for one year. I've wanted to play trumpet for a living since I was in 6th grade. I sang before I played trumpet. My dad is a wonderful classical pianist and singer. Both my mom and sister are flutists, and my sister sings as well.  In 2009, I moved to Golden, CO to take care of my recently deceased grandmother, Lois. That is how I ended up taking a scholarship and transferring to the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver. I was able to go to Italy with an opera program over the summer, and in general, have a very well-rounded study of classical and jazz music.  I worked at Apple after graduating with my undergrad degree.  I started working for the Fischer family (Clare Fischer Productions) during this time and have been with them ever since.  Now I am back in Toledo, newly bestowed a master in music degree from UT and working as a full-time musician most of the time.   


Do you have a motto or favorite quote you try to live by? 

I try to be patient, kind and tolerant. I'm sure there are lots of mottos or quotes for that, but it's a daily struggle and I do fail.


Favorite local spot?:

The Black Kite is my second home at this point. The Kite is a short walk away, the Badger Brunch is the best, the employees are so kind and I like being embroidered in the social fabric of the Old West End coffee community.


What's Toledo's "best-kept secret"?  

The Shady Lady's Of the Scarf Order bike gang. JK.  I would say the fact we can pick up 89.9 CBC; from 10p-12a the signal is on (sorry Petr for giving this one away!)


Favorite natural space in Toledo: 

Wildwood Metropark. 


When I'm not working hard, I can be found...

Acting silly and spending time with my BF Steve. Riding my bike around, practicing, hanging out at the Black Kite or the Attic with my awesome friends. 


If you could change the current landscape for Toledo creatives, what would you do?

I would resurrect the idea of Rusty's Jazz - this place that used to be a playing and meeting ground for many musicians back in the day. The community is split in some ways, and it would be great to have an inclusive place for great musicians to perform, for young ones to learn in a professional atmosphere and for anyone to come in and learn more about the great American art form that is jazz, new and old.  I'd envision neo-soul nights, hip-hop collectives, jazz standard hour, funk and Bootsy party nights, ambient hour, indie Canadian music, etc...


Name one person (living or dead) who you'd love to collaborate with. 

Amy Winehouse.


3 words that describe you or your work: 

Laughter, passionate, colorful. 


My biggest vice is ___________

Coffee with a macaroon.


My most inspiring moment was/is: 

Is yet to come I hope, but as of now I'd have to say the first time I listened to [Eberhard Weber's] Later that Evening.


I want my last meal to be:

Bacon (Badger-Brunch style), arugula and Chick Pea Salad. With a Crabbies ginger beer, of course, or Earthen Jar. I can't decide, what about all of it?


Give us 5 'desert island' album picks:

Later That Evening - Eberhard Weber
Chet Baker Sings - Chet Baker
Nakamarra/Choose Your Weapon - Hiatus Kaiyote
Finest Hour - Submotion Orchestra
Kind of Blue - Miles Davis
Finest Hour - Astrud Gilberto



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