today i found out i lost the most influential vocal teachers of my life. i remember hours and hours spent running scales at his piano and him pushing me to learn breath control and courage and empathy when singing. he taught me how to share the most intimate experiences with my audiences. he was not gentle in his methods but he was terribly loving. he pushed me like no other because he believed in what i had to offer. week after week at the lush lounge in san francisco, he challenged me to sing my folk songs to a room full of show tune lovers. and somehow, one day, it all clicked and i had those men singing my songs with me. i will never forget the day he point blank told me, “shaheen, housewives and secretaries don’t get record deals. get your shit together!” he was right. in that moment, i vowed to get my shit together. i got my record deal in 2005 and lived a life i only dreamed of as a kid. RIP Richard Nickol. you gave me my voice, in every way. your work and your life has changed me forever and you will be terribly missed.