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Accident-grown

Nina Storey finds her voice all over again

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Nina Storey keeps her top on by sheer willpower alone.
  • Nina Storey keeps her top on by sheer willpower alone.

Nina Storey can tell you all about strength.

She's one of those performers whose voice sticks with you long after the live show or CD is over.

But she almost lost that power forever.

About 10 years ago, the Colorado singer-songwriter was in a car accident that left her in pain when she sang. She suffered a herniated disc in her neck that injured her vocal chords.

Speaking from her home in L.A. (she splits her time between there and Boulder), Storey sees the trial for its outcome.

"It was a blessing, really, because I took from it the opportunity to really learn about my body and learn about all the mechanisms that went into singing that, prior to that, I had taken for granted," she says.

Say you sprain your ankle. You tend to compensate by putting weight on the other foot. That's what happened with Storey's vocal chords, with compensatory muscular usage becoming problematic.

Raised in a musical household, Storey grew up listening to powerful female singers like Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Annie Lennox and Janis Joplin.

Although she doesn't stick to just one genre, Storey's recent works, including 2003's double disc 24 Off the Board, find her focusing more on a bluesy, funky note. She's got one of those sought-after Big Voices, but through training and time has been able to range anywhere from breathy to jagged to jazzy. She owes this breadth, she says, to relearning what she does best.

Part of the healing process involved working with a vocal coach. Storey realized that she needed to protect her voice for future use.

"I don't scream on roller coasters. I don't talk too much on airplanes. I stay out of super-loud environments. I don't eat dairy," she says. "Well, I try, anyway."

She adds, "I think I'm a stronger singer now than I've ever been -- my sensibilities regarding the use of my voice, and my growth as a vocalist and musician. But I've always been a make-the-best-of-the-situation person. So I think what's evolved from that is that my style has embraced a lot of different sounds."

Taking a page from the "write what you know" philosophy, Storey's songwriting has grown to include these challenges. Her songs set out to celebrate achievements and relationships, both real and fictional. Not content to be another pretty voice, Storey wants substance.

"For me, sonically, singing hard for two hours is not exciting. Telling a story, and really molding a song and a sound, is a byproduct of that accident. I don't know if I would have intellectually taken that route otherwise."

-- Kara Luger

capsule

V-Day Benefit featuring Nina Storey

Bongo Billy's Salida Caf, 300 W. Sackett Ave., Salida

Friday, Jan. 13, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $12, with proceeds going to the Alliance Against Domestic Abuse; call 719/539-4261 for more.

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