Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, a musical household laid the groundwork for Nicole's career. She was inspired very early by her father, who played jazz organ and piano, and her father's records, which all made an impact on Nicole's musical tastes: Artists such as Etta Jones, Miles Davis, Stuff Smith, J.J. Johnson and Sonny Rollins, the Beatles and Motown classics were in regular rotation. Aside from the familial influences, Nicole's education is extensive and ongoing, ranging from a BA in Music from Baruch College, to a Masters in Music Education at Columbia University, as well as private training in composition, arranging, voice and violin.
Nicole's notable talent has a virtue all its own, but it would be remiss not mention the late great vocal legend, Joe Williams. Joe "discovered" Nicole through a series of events, and adopted her as his very own project. He recognized this diamond in the rough, gleaming through, and began
to invest in seeing Nicole rise to the top. "Joe Williams Presents Nicole Yarling at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild" was born as a result. It also captures a moment in history which can never be duplicated: "Joe Williams Presents..." was to be Joe's final recording. Sadly, Joe passed away before he could see the actual release of his final work of art. Joe intended to escort Nicole to the highest limits, much in the same way Count Basie did for him in the late fifties. Count Basie had once supported Joe Williams at his first solo engagement by having the marquee read "Count Basie Presents Joe Williams."
It can be boldly stated, however, that Ms. Yarling's talent has a strength all its own, to forge ahead on Joe's intended path. Joe Williams' torch certainly won't die out, as it has been graciously passed along to one Nicole Yarling, or as Joe might have said; the "Darling Ms. Yarling." Nicole has completed a yet-to-be published manuscript entitled, “Here’s to Life: A Celebration of Joe Williams” in honor of her mentor.
Ms. Yarling realized the valuable gifts given to her. She knows that the best way to keep these gifts is to share them with others. She applies her knowledge today at Florida Memorial University as an Assistant Professor, and Director of Popular Music where she recently received the honor of “Teacher of the Year” and “Scholar of the Year” in her division. In addition, she served as Adjunct Professor at the University of Miami, teaching voice and composition and directing the R&B Ensemble for six years.
With her creativity, performance, teaching and encouragement she aids in establishing strong artistic community ties. As a mentor, she established a concert series six years ago called Jazz Encounters, at radio station WDNA in Miami. She has participator as both adjudicator and performer for the prestigious Young Arts organization based in Miami for the past eight years. She recently began a coaching stint along with Ms. Betty Wright for Little Dreamers – an organization established by Phil Collins to help young performer fulfill their dreams. In Fort Lauderdale, Nicole serves as Educational director and host of a monthly jazz jam for young musicians, First Friday Jam, sponsored by the Gold Coast Jazz Society. The Jazz Journalists of America acknowledged her efforts when she received the Jazz Hero Award for 2015. In 2016, Ms. Yarling was inducted into the South Florida Jazz Hall of Fame. In 2018 Ms. Yarling received a $10,000 Knights Arts Champion award for her work with the JECC.