Artist of the Month - May 2020
Written By Jim T. Gammill
Arts Council Menifee
Nicole Farrell originally hails from Quebec, Canada and is one of seventeen children. Nicole’s family loved music and would often sing together, it is no surprise that music and singing would later become a large part of her life. The family moved to California in 1962 and made the trek from Canada to California on a train.
“A few of my siblings had already grown into adulthood and gotten married back home, but just imagine, 11 kids and their parents traveling all that way by train! It was really something,” Farrell remembers.
While on the train, the children would often sing together and some of the other passengers took notice of the family’s talent. One passenger was particularly impressed and exchanged contact information with Nicole’s parents. The family took up residence in California in September of 1962 and ended up being contacted by the train passenger, who was involved with the Manhattan Beach chamber of commerce, to sing Christmas carols at the city’s tree lighting ceremony in December. Later, the family would also be asked to sing for prisoners at the Los Angeles Jail.
Nicole later came to live in San Diego with her husband, John Farrell, both of whom had children from previous relationships.
“We are like the true Brady Bunch,” Farrell said with a smile, “I had three girls and a boy and John had three boys. Of course, all of the children love music!”
The children would go on to bless John and Nicole with 17 grandchildren ranging in age from 2 to 18. While living in North County San Diego Nicole was awarded top karaoke company for her superior sound and hostess skills.
Nicole and her husband moved to Sun City in 2007 after Nicole was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was fighting the disease but had to endure surgery after surgery on her road to recovery and was even diagnosed with a brain tumor along the way. The future looked bleak to Nicole at the time and the couple needed an affordable place in which they could live comfortably.
Fate called to Nicole when her and John visited a former Sun City eatery called Boston Billy’s and met Robbie Motter, who was an influential member of the National Association of Female Entrepreneurs (NAFE). Motter was setting up for karaoke and after seeing Farrell’s interest, suggested that she participate. Nicole was uncertain if she was feeling up to it but agreed anyway. She sang La Vie En Rose and was enthusiastically received by all those in attendance.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I sang that night, but I do have Robbie to thank for breaking me out of my shell,” the singer recalls.
In the following years, Nicole would become increasingly active with the city of Menifee, including events for Arts Council Menifee, and has provided sound equipment and DJ services for countless events over the years alongside her husband, John.
“John is so supportive and is my absolute hero! I couldn’t do what I do without him by my side,” Nicole said.
In 2013 Nicole was invited to perform at the 2013 Menifee’s Got Talent and was under the impression that she would be doing so as a guest. Farrell performed her signature song, La Vie En Rose, and handed out roses during her performance.
“And then they tricked me! I thought I was there as a supporting act and I ended up winning the competition,” Farrell said.
Nicole Farrell would later sing at several Menifee tree lighting ceremonies and a number of other local events. She has been recognized several times for her community involvement over the past decade including nominations for citizen of the year for two years in a row, nominations for business of the year for five consecutive years. Nicole has also done some very meaningful work as part of the Menifee/Sun City Women’s Club and has contributed to the fight against child trafficking by knitting special dolls for children that were victims of trafficking abuse. In 2015 Farrell received a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ from President Barack Obama for her humanitarian work and received similar recognition in 2018 from President Donald Trump.
Lately, Nicole has been offering mentorship at The Boys and Girls Club to help build the confidence of the children and help them perform in front of an audience. In January of 2020, the singer performed at the Hemet Opera House, owned and operated by Eve and Rick Faulkner, in a roaring 20’s themed show. It was the first time that Nicole had ever sang opera, she was given a very warm reception and was invited to perform at a ‘Paris tea room’ inspired show in April that has been postponed due to the emergence of COVID-19 and the resulting health concerns. In addition to the Hemet performance (which has since been rescheduled for June 27th) Farrell also had several performances in the Palm Springs area arranged by Bette King Productions that will also be rescheduled for later in the year.
Due to her musical achievements, community involvement, and altruistic spirit, Arts Council Menifee is proud to name Nicole Farrell as its selection for May’s Artist of the Month.