Nanny Assis was born in the northeastern Brazilian city of Salvador, Bahia, in 1969. One of Brazil’s first cities, with predominant African influences, Salvador is the birthplace of some of the country’s most remarkable music creations. In part, that explains why Nanny has music running through his veins, making him a gifted singer, percussionist and songwriter. For Nanny music is not just a career; rather, it is how he translates rhythms and notes into pure essence, touching hearts and souls with his musical expressions.
At the age of 10, Nanny began to reveal his true passion by singing and playing at every church his father preached in and around Bahia. At the age of 13, music was already a part of his soul when Zeca Freitas, a local musician, conductor, and bandleader, discovered him. Zeca later joined a partnership with Fred Dantas, and both musicians played a genuine role in influencing Nanny’s musical style. Soon after they invited Nanny to join them in Orchestra de Gafieira, which specialized in Brazilian folkloric rhythms.
Since 1986, when Nanny first began his professional career, he has played with amazing artists like Vinicius Cantauria, Eumir Deodato, and John Patitucci. Nanny has the ability to perform Brazilian Jazz, Forro, Bossa Nova and a myriad of Afro-Brazilian sounds. Nanny’s musical influences came from his birthplace. Growing up, he would listen to Rio-born but Bahia-lover Dorival Caymmi, Tropicalia icons like Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, whom he says is maybe his greatest influence. Djavan and Ivan Lins are also celebrated artists who Nanny says have impacted him and helped shape his artistic formation.
In 1999, when Nanny moved to New York City, he became well-known and has performed at some of the city’s top musical venues including Birdland, Zinc Bar, B.B. Kings, the Blue Note and many more. For the past decade, he is the sole voice on Sundays at SOB’s, with his traditional brunch concert. He has also performed throughout Europe, including Queen Elizabeth’s Hall in London.
In 2011, Nanny was the recipient of the prestigious Brazilian International Press Award as “Best Singer of the Year.” Hundreds of votes cast through the Internet earned Nanny the first stage in musical recognition within the greater Brazilian community. Nanny Assis has recorded two albums: “Brazilian Vibes,” with Arthur Lipner and “Double Rainbow.”