The mark of a good song is that it can cross seamlessly over genres, sung by a range of artists, offering a new perspective with each one.
Beyonce’s 2013 hit single, XO, off her Beyonce album is one of those songs.
I liked XO when Beyonce released it, but I didn’t fall in love with it until I discovered a cover on Youtube by Canadian jazz-pop singer-songwriter, Nikki Yanofsky. Once I heard Nikki’s stripped-down version of the song, I appreciated Beyonce’s original even more.
Nikki Yanofsky is a protege of Quincy Jones, who discovered her when she was 14, working on an album with another legendary Grammy-winning producer, Phil Ramone.
Quincy became an artistic mentor, co-manager and producer for the singer. Her sound has evolved since then, still rooted in the jazz she has been singing since she was 5, but more aggressive and charged with a pop-R&B essence.
“This lady is really special,” Quincy has said of Nikki. “She can sing like Ella (Fitzgerald), and she can kick it baby, she can kick!” “What I love is she brings all the roots of the best we have of the past and putting it in the present, because literally, that’s how jazz stays so powerful.”
Check out Nikki’s mesmerizing cover of XO in this video. So simple yet rich in every note she delivers. She gets me every time I listen.