About Maggie Nicols
|Windmill Theatre Programme December 1963
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Born February 24, 1948 in Edinburgh, Scotland, vocalist Maggie Nicols (or Nichols as her name was written
in former days) has worked on almost every kind of project.
At the age of 15 she left school and started to work as
a dancer at the Windmill Theatre. Her first singing engagement was in a strip club in Manchester at the age of 16. About that
time she became obsessed with Jazz and started singing with revolutionary bebop pianist Dennis Rose.
|Bird Curtis Quintet
From then on she sang jazz standards and originals in pubs, clubs, hotels and in dance bands with some
of the finest jazz musicians around.
|Jon Lei Dancers
In the midst of all this she worked abroad for a year in 1966; as a dancer and hostess in
Greece and Iran with the Jon Lei Dancers followed by a six month engagement as a dancer at
the Moulin Rouge in Paris.
In 1968, she joined John Stevens' Spontaneous Music Ensemble with Trevor Watts, later joined by Johnny
Dyani and Carolanne Nicholls (no relation), and the group performed that year at Berlin's 1st improvised music festival, Total
Music Meeting with guest musician Johnny Mclaughlin
|maggie & john maclaughlin, berlin 1968
In the early 70s she began running voice workshops at the Oval House Theatre (one of the most important
centres for pioneer fringe theatre groups). She both acted in some of the productions and rehearsed regularly with a local
rock band, Octuin. Insert Picture Here
Shortly after she became part of Keith Tippett's magnificent fifty piece band "Centipede" which included
Julie Tippetts, Zoot Money, Phil Minton, Robert Wyatt, Dudu Pukwana and Alan Skidmore.
|Centipede At The London Lyceum 1970
Julie, Phil and Maggie got together with Brian Ely and formed the vocal group 'Voice'. Around this
time, Nicols also began collaborating with the Scottish percussionist Ken Hyder, (who had recently moved to London) and
joined his band 'Talisker'.
By the late '70s, Maggie became an active feminist and co-founded the group OVA. Not long after,
she started the Feminist Improvising Group, with Lindsay Cooper. She also organized Contradictions, a women's workshop performance
group that began in 1980 and dealt with improvisation and other modes of performance in a variety of mediums including music
and dance. Over the years, Maggie has collaborated with other women's groups such as the Changing Women Theatre Group,
and even co-wrote music for a prime-time television series Women in Sport.
Maggie has also collaborated regularly over the years with pianist Irene Schweizer and formidable bassist
Joelle Leandre, including tours and three recordings as the trio Les Diaboliques. In addition to this is her ongoing collaboration
with Ken Hyder. The duo incorporates elements of the traditional tunes of their shared Scottish background into jazz improvisations
in their most recent project, Hoots and Roots Duo . Other projects for Nicols have included a duo with pianist
Pete Nu, a singing duo with her daughter Aura Marina, a trio with Caroline Kraabel and Charlotte Hug, a duo with pianist Steve
Lodder ("The Maggie Nicols Songbook") as well as Light and Shade, a project with lighting designer Sue Neal. Furthermore she has
been involved with many other groups, such as the acapella group Inspiration (formerly Brixton Youth), Trevor Watts'
Moire Music, Very Varied, The Lewis Riley Quartet, No Rules OK, Pulse, Gush and Al Dente with Lindsay Cooper, Elvira Plenar
and Michelle Buirette
Maggie Nicols has performed internationally for several decades, for instance at the Zürich and the Frankfurt
"Canaille" festivals and Moers, Grenoble,Mulhouse, Vancouver and Victoriaville Festivals. She has also given solo
performances at the Moers Music Festival, the Cologne Triennale, and a number of other creative and improvised music festivals.
She has worked with a great many improvisers from all over the world including drummer Günter "Baby" Sommer, British
musicians,soprano saxophonist Lol Coxhill, guitarist John Russell, Dutch trombonist and violinist Annemarie
Roelofs, the Australian Relative Band (with Jim Denley), tuba player Pinguin Moschner, and prolific songwriting bands Loverly
and Cats Cradle.
Vocalist Maggie Nicols has been an active participant in the European improvisational community since joining
the Spontaneous Music Ensemble in the late '60s. As a co-founder of the Feminist Improvising Group, she has also worked
to further women in improvised music, dancing and other creative arts not only by example, but through workshops and extensive
FROM 2000 - THE PRESENT DAY, KEY CONCERTS AND WORKSHOPS HAVE INCLUDED:-
The Bath Jazz Festival,May 200 with Hoots 'n' Roots;
Coventry Jazz Festival, The Maggie Nicols'Songbook with pianist Steve Lodder, August 2001; The Gathering
'Nuts In May' Freedom Of The City Festival, London, May 2002
'Street Sounds' project, workshops and performances throughout 2002 in Tower Hamlets, London, funded
by The National Foundation for Youth Music' in conjunction with David Baker of Kingsley Hall, Bromley- by-Bow.