Singer Bianca Nicholas (pictured) – who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis – has just released her first single with a little help from fellow songwriters Bill Gautier and Stephanie Dosen, writes David Davies.
Hailing from Beckenham, Kent, Nicholas has been pursuing her musical ambitions since her teens. At 15, the Starlight Children’s Foundation – a charity which grants once-in-a-lifetime wishes for seriously and terminally ill children – arranged for her to visit a professional studio and record a number of covers for a special CD.
More recently, she has teamed up with songwriters Bill Gautier and Stephanie Dosen, who created Hold On Your Dreams specifically for Nicholas. The resulting single was launched at the Boodles Boxing Ball in London earlier month, with Nicholas’s performance taking place in front of 850 high-profile guests including Geri Halliwell, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie and Pippa Middleton.
Nicholas’s determination to pursue her musical ambitions is all the more notable because of the effects of her condition. Cystic Fibrosis – an illness for which there is currently no cure – affects organs throughout the body, including the lungs. The condition requires rigorous physiotherapy, use of nebulisers and inhalers, and an intake of approximately 40 tablets every day.
One of the many effects of Cystic Fibrosis is that it makes breathing very difficult due to the accretion of mucus in the lungs, but breathing exercises and singing are helping to keep Nicolas’s lungs clear. Indeed, her passion for performance may well be helping to minimise the impact of her condition.
“Not only is singing something I have loved to do for as long as I can remember – my consultants say it could be the reason my lungs are keeping so well,” she says. “Physiotherapy, which is used to treat CF, involves a lot of breathing exercises which singing is brilliant for – I feel so lucky that the thing I love to do more than anything in the world could also be improving my health! I always like to say that I have CF but it doesn’t have me. I feel like it is really important to separate yourself from an illness, concentrate on being an individual, and live life to the full – being who you were born to be!
“I just feel like I was born to sing – it is all I have ever wanted to do with my life. To make it as a singer would not only mean the world to me, as it would any performer, but I also hope that by performing as much as possible while I am still well enough, I can help to inspire others like myself to ‘Hold On To Their Dreams’ and achieve their goals in life no matter what they are facing – simply by doing the thing I love!”
Producer by Gautier and Jon Diamond, Hold On to Your Dreams was recorded, mixed and mastered at Martha’s Studio. The session made use of the Steinberg Nuendo DAW and Lynx AES/Aurora converters, while vocals were captured with vintage Neumann U 47 (Nicholas) and U 87 (Dosen’s backing vocals) microphones. Other equipment included PMC monitors, a UAD DSP, and plug-ins from EMT, Lexicon, Manley, Neve, Fairchild, Pultec and Helios. Among the MI gear was a Yamaha Motif ES 8 keyboard, Fender and Gibson guitars, a Fender Precision bass, and percussion from Gretsch, Paiste, Sabian and Zildjian.
Hold On To Your Dreams can be downloaded now from iTunes (http://tinyurl.com/hotyd1) and Amazon (http://tinyurl.com/hotyd2). A video performance of the song can also be accessed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoIS6BSAaYY. Bianca also performed the single at Pro Sound News Europe's BandNite 2 performance evening during PLASA, after which she was joined by several other musicians to perform a rousing version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.
To find out more about Starlight Children’s Foundation, and/or to make a donation, please visit www.starlight.org.uk.