When did you discover your talent and did you have aspirations of being an opera singer?
“I’ve been interested in music since I was a child, first teaching myself, at 6 years old, to play the family organ at Christmas time. I always say that music saved my life. At about 8 I was already hanging with the gangsters in my neighborhood in Crenshaw and by 9 I made the decision to turn to music full time. But you asked me about Opera. Well, my father was an Opera fanatic and as a kid I was into Rock and Roll, couldn’t really grasp the Opera stuff, kinda strongly disliked it actually. LOL! Then while studying at the Conservatory I stumbled across my voice and eventually changed my major from classical guitar to voice and was required to learn some Opera. The 1st moment I opened my mouth to sing Opera was the exact moment I found my destiny. It’s from the challenges it brings and the sheer beauty of life’s struggles that it portrays that I found a new form of passion in my life. I was hooked!
I read you studied and trained for 8 years under world-renowned opera singer and vocal coach Maestro Dr. Hernan Pelayo (Placido Domingo’s childhood mentor) Is it true?
YES, It was Maestro Pelayo that retrained me too sing properly after the conservatory. With his technique firmly based in the traditional “Bel Canto” style, I was in the right hands. Pelayo got his training directly from the great Beniamino Gigli who he studied, and with then later went on to tour with, as a lead baritone.
Was it a grueling time for you?
LOL! Not grueling, I was obsessed with getting my singing right. Nothing else mattered. What lead you to work with him and how do you keep the discipline and passion to maintain it? I was extremely lucky to have found Maestro Pelayo through a Tenor friend. Singing now is simply a maintenance thing. I only need to train hard if there’s something challenging in my next show. As for the passion to maintain it, passion is not an issue for me. The music itself is my guide.
Hundreds of people want to become professional opera singers. Do you have any advice for those out there how to follow in your footsteps?
Yeah, don’t do it! LOL! Kidding! I would say this. Don’t do it if you’re thinking to get famous or rich. Do it because it’s who you are meant to be. Singing professionally is a LIFESTYLE not a goal. It’s a process of becoming something, not learning something. Then let it be “who you are”, not “what you do”.
You mentioned you grew up in a rough neighborhood in LA. There were lots of gangs and the homeless people became your friends and would help you get home safe. Could you share more about this experience as well as your relationship with the homeless in your neighborhood with our readers?
This is a very sensitive subject for me as it reminds me of just how awful it can be out there. What I usually neglect to tell people is about how dangerous that neighborhood, Crenshaw, used to be, when I grew up there. I had been shot at multiple times in drive-by’s and so forth. My father was purposely shot and killed when I was just 12 because of the color of his skin and by the time I was 16 I had seen at least 3 people killed in front of me. The homeless back then were called bums and they mostly frequented and lived in the alleys. I would use these alleys to avoid the gangs when walking home from elementary school. My best friend Tyron, a little overweigh kid, was my lifeline. He introduced me to the homeless of the alleys and they would make sure I got home safe. I am forever grateful and in their debt.
What more do you think we can do as individuals and as a community to support the homeless and open our hearts more to this?
It’s very simple. If we were to adopt the methods of places like Salt Lake City and spend our tax dollars more wisely we could easily wipeout homelessness in our country. Just like prisons, It would cost us less as a society to give a person an education and a purpose to live, than it costs to build and house criminals. It’s the same thing for the homeless issue. No one wants to hear this but our system is based on the government giving kickbacks and not on solving the issues.
I have to ask since our magazine has a lot of female readers, are you single or is there someone special in your life?
Well Anicia, I was hoping that you’d be available. LOL! I’m just playing with you. I am very much single my dear, and would be thrilled to meet the right girl someday.
So what’s next for you? What upcoming concerts or work projects?
I am working on a few projects including an all Romantic Spanish album, featuring songs in Spanish that I’ve written and I’m also wrapping up my Christmas Album that’s being produced by Barry Manilow’s producers Greg Bartheld and David Benson. Beyond that I’m still regularly giging and holding private concerts for the world’s elite and famous.
VIVA GLAM Magazine would like to thank Nick for giving us this personal interview. You can learn more about him www.nickpalance.com. Along with Nick’s partnership charity event with OPCC.
The next time you walk past a homeless person on the street, please remember they are human just like us and we do not know the unfortunate circumstances that lead them there. As a general rule, many think they brought it on themselves, I ask all of you to humbly realize this generalization can easily be mistaken and could someday be one of us or someone you know and love. As a community, let’s come together to help these less fortunate that have nowhere to go and no one to turn to. Starting over is a very hard thing to do on you own. OPCCLA is here to help. For more information visit www.opcc.net