We love what we do

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Nick Norman               “We love what we do”

While growing up in Columbia, South Carolina, Nick Norman attended a Southern Baptist Church summer camp and later, when older, became a camp counselor. Along with good friend Lee Brice, Nick started playing music and was immediately hooked.

In 2004, Nick was attracted to the musical energy of Key West. Music was everywhere he went. He returned to South Carolina, ended his business involvement with his brother, and moved to Key West for a full-time music career. Coming to Key West from a very strong Southern Baptist background was a life-changing experience. He says Key West taught him “how to be a human being … much more than being an artist. Key West is a place where everyone can fit in.”

According to Nick, the music scene is continuously growing and inspiring creativity. Key West is an environment for all types of artists and all types of creativity. Nashville is a community of mostly songwriters. While Nashville is similar to Key West in a number of ways, the main difference to Nick is the amount of performance opportunities here. He feels he wouldn’t be in the music business without the excitement of performing his songs to a live audience. He loves songwriting but playing an original song to a live audience is where the real excitement exists.

Key West can become a similar center for energy and inspiration for songwriters like Nick who don’t want to live in big cities. Key West is comfortable and slower paced. “We love what we do. We get to make it our business but we also get to relax. You’re around people that are like you and some that are so unlike you – it works.”

Nick’s vocals are his strength. He mainly plays guitar but has learned other instruments to better understand their relationships in music. He loves writing music and works on different genres — pop, country, and folk music. He has been letting the music, the melody, or the feel dictate were the song goes. He recently has been working on a new song titled “Once in a Blue Moon”.

Key West is the perfect place to work, learn, and grow. He gets to practice and write music almost every day while also learning from other musicians. This special community of artists and the body of creativity will dictate the growth of the Key West music scene according to Nick and many other artists. To most of them, playing in the bars is the easy part.

Most musicians cannot practice at their apartments/rooms or try new things at their gigs, so having a little place to gather is important. Unlike Nashville, there are only a few places that musicians can record their music in Key West. After investor Tap Johnson bought the Key West Theater in 2014, he asked Michael Marrero and Nick to build a recording space in the theater. They built two soundproof rooms in the back of the theater and started recording music.

The Key West Songwriters Festival is a great event and a huge component of Key West music every May. The festival is a vacation for many songwriters from the Nashville music industry. In 2014, Nick and Joal Rush were on the agenda. They hosted a party at the Little Room Jazz Club with the country music duo American Young. Nick has continued to perform at the Key West Songwriters Festival every year.

After the passing of Jimmy Buffett, Nick feels Buffett’s legacy and music will last for a very long time. He thinks Jimmy Buffett’s biggest impact on Key West is the importance of the trop rock genre of music along with the huge Buffett fan base and following. Buffett put an indelible mark on Key West.

While growing up, Nick admits most of his generation did not give the entire trop rock genre a chance. After writing some of his own music and really listening to some of Buffett’s songs, he realized what an incredible songwriter Jimmy Buffett was. He understands that Buffett created his own sound around “a passion for songwriting and is something I personally strive for.”

During the summer, Nick does a “Porch Tour”, mostly along the East Coast, performing for people that have heard him play in Key West. Several became friends and wanted him to come up to their homes and businesses and play for their friends. He often includes his lifelong friend Lewis Brice with the tour.

Nick has some great childhood friends from South Carolina. Lee and Lewis Brice, Joel Rush, Finnegan Belland, Greg Rue — all either went to summer camp together or met in middle school. All are singer songwriters and continue to make a living with music as well as collaborate musically with each other. Rue, an accomplished event producer, runs sound for most Key West Theater shows and is a partner with Art of Sound, working special performances and events.

He says his smartest move by far was marrying Kelly Shabinaw Norman in May 2014. Their eight-year-old daughter, Taylor Kase Norman, is already singing and performing, sometimes stealing the show from Nick.

Nick recently performed with Jason Lamson at the brand-new Williams Hall to a great audience. He will be performing again at Williams Hall with Jeff Clark on February 16.



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