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Singer and bandleaderCopyright © 2002
Nancie Banks was a well-regarded singer, composer, arranger, and bandleader.
Her website biography reads as follows:
Born Nancy Manzuk on July 29th in Morgantown, West Virginia, and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Nancie's parents were both musicians, her mother a classical pianist, and her father a singer in the church choir with a four octave range.
Nancie began piano lessons with her mother at the age of four. She moved to New York City and studied with Barry Harris, Alberto Socarras, a pioneer of Afro-Cuban Jazz, Edward S. Boatner, who wrote many of the spiritual arrangements still sung in Black churches today, and Jazzmobile Workshops, Inc., founded by Dr. Billy Taylor.
She sang as the leader of her own quartets and quintets around town as well as with big bands, including the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. Nancie has worked with Sadik Hakim, Walter Davis Jr., John Hicks, Barry Harris, Dexter Gordon, Woody Shaw, Michael Max Fleming, Walter Booker, Bob Cunningham, Bross Townsend, Duke Jordan, Jon Hendricks, Walter Booker, Walter Bishop Jr., C. Sharpe, Charli Persip, and many others. She considers her spiritual mentors to be Charlie Parker, Thad Jones, Duke Ellington, and Sun Ra.
In 1989, she was given a scholarship to study in the Jazz Department at the New School University. It was in the school's student big band, led by Cecil Bridgewater, that her own big band, the 19-piece Nancie Banks Orchestra was born. The result is an exhilarating swinging band which has always featured top notch musicians. They work in clubs around the New York City area, as well as festivals, concerts & private parties. Recent appearances include an invitation to bring her band to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts annual Mary Lou Williams Women's Jazz Festival in Washington, D.C.
Her debut recording, "Waves of Peace" won accolades from critics, and was among the nominees for "Best Jazz Records of the Year" in the Village Voice Critics poll. Subsequent releases have also been very favorably received, and are getting airplay all over the United States, and some places in Japan, France, Brazil, Germany, South Africa, Russia, the Ukraine and other countries.
She taught private students, did college and high school clinics, and was a Visiting Professor of Vocal Jazz at the City University at the request of Ms. Sheila Jordan for a year while she was on tour.
Nancie also worked as a music copyist and music preparation supervisor. Major motion picture soundtrack credits include Spike Lee's "Mo' Better Blues" and "Housesitter" which featured Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn, composed by Miles Goodman and orchestrated by Oscar Castro Neves. Her Broadway show credits include "Swingin' On A Star" and record dates which have been Grammy award winners for the Count Basie Orchestra, George Benson, and Diane Schuur. She has also worked as a music copyist for Buck Clayton, Frank Foster, Grover Mitchell, Joe Chambers, Jack Jeffers, Monty Alexander, and many others.
She was married to trombonist Clarence Banks.
Nancie was found dead in her apartment in Manhatten. The precise date of her death is not known.
JJA members are invited to submit a full obituary or appreciation.