Nu Blend was formed two years ago by tenor Fletcher Sheridan. Unlike many people his age that started garage bands, Fletcher set out to launch a jazz vocal group. The group of CSUN students in their early 20s began as a quintet until they settled on its current format consisting of soprano Kara Grizzell, alto Nicki Olivia, tenor Fletcher Sheridan and bass Tonoccus McClain.
NuBlend has performed as guests of honor at a number of Los Angeles area jazz events including most recently, The Simi Valley Jazz Festival. The group has recorded a holiday CD set for release this winter. When asked why they work so hard in addition to fulfilling their educational dreams, Fletcher said, “It’s an amazing musical experience. These are some of the best musicians I’ve ever met or worked with!”
Fletcher Sheridan, 22 years of age, is armed with perfect pitch and has been around as well as inside of the music industry all of his life. Coming from a musical family, he was quickly introduced the likes of Steely Dan, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, and Take 6. It wasn’t until Fletcher attended the Hamilton Music Academy that he developed his love for jazz.
Since the age of 14, Fletcher has been a professional studio singer. In recent years, he has sung for names ranging from John Williams to Jessica Simpson. He has sung on the soundtracks of several movies including Anastasia, Armageddon, American Pie, Anywhere But Here, and Lilo & Stitch. Fletcher can be heard on television shows such as Boston Public, Ally McBeal and Malcolm in the Middle. He also sang background vocals on Michael Jackson’s Invincible record. At CSUN, he was the Student Assistant Director of Vocal Jazz for two years, receiving awards for outstanding performance in both the Vocal Jazz Ensemble and the Northridge Singers.
Kara Grizzell, age 21, has been surrounded by music her entire life. Her father is a vocalist and freelance jingle writer and her mother is a working musician and an orchestra teacher. Kara’s musical talents aren’t limited to just voice- she also plays violin, piano, and French horn. Kara says performers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, Lauryn Hill, Chaka Khan and instrumentalists Freddie Hubbard and Joushua Redman have influenced her.
Kara’s musical highlights include performances for the ACDA National Convention in San Antonio and San Diego, The Barry Manilow New Year’s Eve Concert in Hollywood and the American Choral Directors Association Convention in Honolulu. She has also been the recipient of several awards including the 1999 Bank of America Outstanding Music Student and the 2000 Outstanding Student Awards Given by the Northridge Singers and the Vocal Jazz department.
After graduation, Kara intends to pursue her graduate study in Arts Administration, but for the moment, she’s content being a member of NuBlend.
Music has always been Tonoccus’ first love. Although new to the jazz scene, his love for music began with singing gospel music, musical theater and classical music. But now he’s had a taste of vocal jazz, he says he’s stuck for life.
Tonoccus is currently a senior music major. Age 23, Tonoccus is busy on a number of fronts. He’s also an actor, filmmaker and he has been an Anchor/Reporter for Channel One News. He’s also hosted several music video shows on Fox Family and ABC Family Networks. His plans for the immediate future include directing and starring in a short film that he wrote and intends to co-produce.
Nicole “Nikki” Olivia
Nikki is a 21-year-old music major-who hasn’t always been surrounded by music. Music was never her first love; that distinction belonged to sports. In high school she sang for the fun of it and now in college it’s her passion. Although Nikki originally started out as a softball player in high school she managed to find time to sing in a concert choir, chamber choir and with the jazz ensembles. While a senior in high school, Nikki began to become serious about her singing. She planned to attend CSUN on a softball scholarship but after sustaining an injury that would keep her out of the game for a year, she decided to investigate music.
In a short period of time Nikki has gathered a slew of accomplishments. She has performed at the Anaheim Convention Center for Youth Day and last year she was selected to sing the National Anthem at the Dodgers Stadium, which she describes as “The greatest musical experience I ever had!”