From time to time, we interview one of our loyal readers. One such reader we would like you to meet is Nikki Glenn, a professional musician, vocalist and private luxury event performer. Nikki Glenn speaks to EAT LOVE SAVOR in this exclusive interview.
Ms. Glenn for the last 20 years, has been a provider of musical entertainment for events, private and corporate.
A Moment with Nikki Glenn
Congratulations on the long running success in your music career! Tell us about the origins of your passion for music. What drew you to a career in music?
I have had a love for music as long as I can remember. As a young child, I put on “shows” for my parents where I would lip-synch to the records! When I had the opportunity to pick an instrument to study in school, I chose the violin because I’d been inspired by virtuoso violinist Itzhak Perlman on Sesame Street. Little did I know what I was in for! The violin is a challenging instrument, and I stuck with it due to sheer stubbornness. My parents were both educators, and while they were supportive of my musical inclinations, they also didn’t want me to be a starving artist. The compromise that we made in high school was that I could go to an arts-focused boarding school, but then I had to choose a more grounded college degree track. However, after a year spent focusing on electrical engineering core courses, a chance trip to a St. Louis Symphony Orchestra rehearsal transformed my life. There was a moment when the music was swirling to a crescendo and it hit me right in my heart. I knew with absolute certainty that I was going to be a musician, at any cost. At that very rehearsal, over 20 years ago, I met my violin mentor, who has been vital in enabling me to create the career that I have at present.
How did you go from performing on a stage, to specializing in music luxury events aboard private yachts?
This was not a linear progression. After my senior recital in college, I knew that my music career would be a little more…unconventional than most. Many violinists pursue either a career as a concert violinist, orchestra member, or educator. I wanted to find ways to connect with my audience in a less formal manner than the concert hall, or as part of a classical ensemble. So, I joined a blues rock band and learned how to rock out! Shortly thereafter, I met my future husband, who then trained me to be a wedding/corporate events singer. While there was a substantial demand for large band entertainment, there was also a developing niche for solo entertainer for intimate events. This led me to create a unique show, which features both violin instrumentals and vocals, accompanied by professionally orchestrated backing tracks. When I realized that this music was especially suited to a luxurious environment, I just started brainstorming venues that held these types of events. Social media led me to Instagram, where I fell in love with superyachts at first sight. My idea was that since the builders and brokers host lovely events at the boat shows, it couldn’t hurt to ask them if they needed a violinist! I got a list of the exhibitors who would be at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, and then sent out these cute little postcards to introducing myself and inviting them to check out my work. My first engagement was with Florida Yachts International, and I perform regularly for both Ocean Alexander Yachts and Yachtzoo.
The definition of luxury is ever evolving and is most complex as its incorporation into life spans the emotional, experiential and physical. It can come to represent small indulgences through the grand and opulent in architecture and fine goods. To you, and your life, what does ‘luxury’ mean to you?
For me, luxury is redefined moment to moment. I think the most wonderful aspect of luxury is the power of its elasticity — how unique it is from person to person. For me, the small indulgences have just as much power as the opulent experiences. I can be awed by the stunning lines of a superyacht where I’m performing, and equally as enraptured by the champagne and chocolates I might enjoy after my performance. In my life, I find that I most enjoy my experience of luxury through the senses: a meal that is exquisitely prepared and served; a fine cigar with a favorite whisky; the swish of my evening gown as I walk; a sunset over the canal in Venice. Luxury is a powerful motivator for me as well, not to acquire goods, but to obtain experiences that are able to transcend time.
Why do you think music is important for a luxury lifestyle? Are there any types of music that are better suited for exuding the mood and setting befitting luxuriousness?
Music is important to a luxury lifestyle because it can provide a soundtrack to enhance our experiences. I think that we have a fuller experience of luxury when more of our senses are engaged – I think music can very subtly influence us to greater levels of enjoyment. While the choice of music is very subjective, I’ve always felt that different genres of music do have certain affiliations in our minds. If you were to attend an event with classical music in the background, it lends a formality to the event. You might find that people speak softer, and potentially are more reserved in their behavior. Jazz standards and easy listening create a mood in that “sweet spot” that signifies an elegant occasion, but a relaxed atmosphere, which is where I think most luxury events are most successful.
Music is important to a luxury lifestyle because it can provide a soundtrack to enhance our experiences.
What are your top tips for adding music to private events or parties, large and intimate? What is your ideal playlist for an intimate dinner party or gathering?
When considering music for any event, large or small, you need to think about a lot of things: the purpose of your event, your guests, the event flow, and your event space. This all determines how large (or small) a role that music will play in your event. If your purpose is to host an event with light conversation and networking, that might only need a small jazz group or DJ. If you’re hosting a large party where you’ll want drinks and dancing, you’ll want to make sure that you think about the ensemble size, the amount of space you’ll have (with electricity!) available for the group, having enough distance from the speakers (because everyone doesn’t like loud music), if there will be speeches or announcements, etc. You have to make sure the music you choose is appropriate for the guests who will be attending – you don’t want to alienate them with music that is too loud, or too hip, or not hip enough! Large parties can have a lot of moving parts, as you may have to hire a sound company separate from your entertainment, or your entertainment may expect that you’re providing this for them. Intimate events can be a little easier to plan music for – the main thing is that you don’t want the music to be too loud and obscure conversation. For these gatherings, the music needs to be a subtle soundtrack and not the main feature. The ideal playlist for an intimate dinner party or gathering is music that is energetic, but not overwhelming – light jazz, even some smooth jazz can work. Artists like Diana Krall, Diane Reeves, and Norah Jones are excellent choices to mix in as well. I’m also a fan of electronic music, specifically a genre called “chillout” – it’s very smooth and rhythmic, but not distracting. It’s also a nice touch if you can work in some of your guests’ favorite songs, if possible.
Are you a champagne drinker? If so, what was the first champagne you tried? What is your favorite now and when are you partial to opening a bottle?
I am definitely a champagne drinker!! The first champagne I ever tried was some Moet & Chandon at a New Years’ Eve party in my youth. However, a friend shared an amazing bottle of Taittinger quite a few years back, and I’ve never forgotten the taste of it. I think that’s what hooked me on champagne for good. Since I love bubbles all the time, I tend to get a glass (or two!) of Cava or Prosecco to enjoy at the end of the day.
What kind of music do you listen to in your private moments at home or in the car? What are your perspectives on music and its power to influence emotion?
Because of the busy pace I maintain, I find that in my private time I prefer to listen to music that allows me to “turn off” my brain and enjoy a more passive listening experience. I’m a big fan of electronic music for this purpose, specifically the “chillout” and “ambient” genres, which create a melodic and rhythmic atmosphere that I find to be perfect for winding down. When I’m driving, my playlist is pretty wide-ranging – at present, I have classical violin concertos, Broadway show tunes, classic rock, fusion, pop, and jazz on “shuffle”. I’m also a shameless car singer – I have put on many a performance at a stoplight!
Music is unparalleled in its power to influence our emotions. We can be awestruck by the sounds of a full orchestra, or brought to tears by a single solo. I believe that this is because sound itself is so powerful – music is sound waves combined in almost infinite ways to bypass our intellects and reach directly into our hearts and souls. Music can not only influence our emotions, but also provide a means of expressing them. We have different musical preferences for our moods, and music can often express what words cannot. To me, music is like water: it can nourish us, envelop us, absorb us, and renew us.
Performing is a giving process. What do you do to restore your energy and relax in preparation for the next event?
To relax and restore, I find that stillness and silence are the best courses of action for me. As a vocalist, it’s very easy to wear down the voice, as we talk constantly in our daily lives. Instrumentalists can also be prone to repetitive-motion injuries, so it is sometimes imperative that I take time to give my hands a rest. Eucalyptus steam room/sauna/whirpool is the trinity of restoration for me, and allows me to relax both body and mind.
We can imagine that playing for private events would take you to some interesting places and to meet interesting people. Without divulging the confidentiality and privacy of your clients, can you tell us a bit about a few of your most interesting events? Do you mostly play in the United States or do you travel out of country for any of these events?
I have definitely met fascinating individuals throughout my career, and I love being a part of events that surprise and delight. I also have had the chance to feel like a rock star on a few occasions! Performing onstage with the Black Eyed Peas in St. Louis for the FIRST Robotics Championship was a fabulous experience – thousands of screaming fans, music pumped so loud it vibrates through you bones – it was unforgettable.
As far as the most unique performance experience I’ve had, I have to say it would be performing with Elvis Presley posthumously. It featured Elvis performance videos accompanied by a full orchestra, rhythm section, and backup singers. I was a violinist in the orchestra, and got to see firsthand how incredibly impactful music can be. For that one performance, it was as if Elvis were onstage. It was an amazing feat of technology at the time, but it has always stood out in my memory as remarkable.
The most interesting events for me are definitely the superyacht-based events at the boat shows! I’m usually placed on one of the upper decks of the boat so I get an incomparable view of all the boats at the show, as well as a front-row seat to the sunset. At one of the recent events, I got to see a new superyacht get christened, which was a great experience.
While my work is at present based solely in the US, I am available for engagements anywhere in the world. My motto is “Have Violin Will Travel”.
Where can people reach you if they wish to learn more or to book you for an event?
EAT LOVE SAVOR attracts a sophisticated, intelligent, accomplished and interesting readership of affluent individuals who live a luxury lifestyle including Chairmen, Directors, founders, CEOs, and senior executives of companies involved in the luxury industry. Interview requests are open and we are actively looking for more of our readers to feature. Interviews are purely editorial and there is no paid option to appear in our publications. Direct requests for consideration for an interview, please contact the editor or publisher.