If you were here at Vibe a few weeks back, you might have caught the sparkling Nancy Bos strike a pose in the hallway with hot property in her hands: a desk nameplate with an engraved “Like a Boss.” She needed no encouragement to white-out one of that last “s”, laying her own claim to the dollar-bin treasure from Target.
A vocologist, author, singer, voice-over artist, thought leader, musician AND part-time Vibe community host, Nancy greets everyone who comes through the door in a beautifully modulated voice, a soothing sotto voce.
“I tapped into Vibe the minute I walked in a few months ago. I’m from the greater Seattle area, and this place feels a little more like ‘city’ to me. It’s been a total immersion, becoming one of the locals here and a Vibe host.”
Vibe hosts, or ‘space captains’ as they’re sometimes called around these parts, trade eight hours per week of staff time at Vibe for an unlimited membership.
“Nancy instinctively knows what it takes to make Vibe a great experience for everyone who walks in the door,” says Vibe’s Alanna Imbach. “Instantly finding commonalities between people is one of her superpowers. She just can’t help but make you smile.”
Nancy moved to Kingston in August after 25 years in Bellevue. As you meet her, you’ll know as soon inspiring and encouraging people to express themselves through voice and music is the thing that makes her tick. Her passion, purpose and professional pursuits translate into her spinning plates (and yarns) with the best of them.
Who have been your most rewarding students?
Nancy: I really love working with transgender singers in college. It’s a big challenge, with an even bigger reward. Sometimes these students haven’t yet settled fully into who they are and who they want to be, all their expectations, and they’re unsure about how to move forward in their own voice.
In transitioning, there can be a risk in taking hormones, because there’s no telling how your voice will end up. So there’s a lot of fear regarding singing for transgendered people. I try to help them in an everyday way with these fears around their voices, not to hold back. If you think about it, we identify people’s gender by their voice. Oh, that’s a woman, you might register, upon hearing them. So the voice, if you will, is instrumental.
What made 2018 so special for you?
Nancy: I turned 50 last May, and my whole life is turning on a pivot.
I went from being a full-time voice teacher to becoming an author and a hired staff member, and I was hired as Director of Operations for the Voice and Speech Trainers Association (VASTA). We moved to a new house. I figured out doing all of my work remotely, even teaching singing lessons to some students online. We celebrated the big birthday and our 25th anniversary in New York City, going to Broadway shows, riding bikes through Central Park. It’s been an effing big year.
Why did you emigrate to this side of the water?
Nancy: We were becoming empty nesters—hoping our son would find his own ‘real estate’ and move out—and my husband, Jeff, just loves the water. Buying in Kitsap made so much sense. He works downtown at the Westlake Center, so, with the high-speed ferry Jeff still has a reasonable commute.
Talk to us a bit about being a vocologist. What does that mean, exactly?
Nancy: A vocologist is a voice expert with a deep knowledge of the physiology and acoustics of voice production such that they can really go in deep with training. The process often involves such challenging vocal situations like rockers or belters, or treating voices that have been injured. An ear/nose/throat doctor might refer patients to me, or other voice teachers send me students.
What’s your teaching journey been like?
Nancy: I taught voice lessons for many, many years, up into the 1990s, practicing the classical singing method. Then I switched over to teaching rock, folk and musical theater. Interestingly, those types of singing have been judged to be dangerous for the voice, because of the difference in tension. Classical singing doesn’t dramatically tense up the throat, whereas there’s can be a tremendous amount of tension in the others. So that pushed me on the journey of becoming a voice expert so I could determine how not to harm the people I coached.
What makes it all so fun?
Nancy: That’s a really big question. It means the world to me to help facilitate other people using their voices in a satisfying and fulfilling manner. There might be a singer who’s having trouble expressing themselves in a certain way, or someone who’s always wished they could sing.
I think it’s very sad that some people think they can’t sing. Singing is just part of being human. That’s core to me.
Would you classify yourself as a renaissance person?
Nancy: Currently in a state of ADHD! I enjoy business and music and gardening equally. In addition, I have a podcast called ‘Every Sing.’ It explores vocations in and around singing, for singers who are looking for ways to make a living with their voices. I’ve interviewed voice scientists, therapists, performers and lots of others who are serving this field of singing.
What’s your favorite pursuit of happiness in life?
Nancy: A good challenge. Physical or mental, as long as I have a chance at succeeding, at meeting the challenge or that I grow along the way.
Around here, most people know you as ‘space captain’ at Vibe. Really, though, you spend the bulk of your time serving as Director of Operations for VASTA. Tell us more about VASTA and what do you do there? The Voice and Speech Trainer’s Association is an international nonprofit for speech and acting teachers. We work with accent reduction, optimizing voice production and corporate coaching for speeches on the lecture circuit. There are over 1,000 members globally, and now Vibe is the home base for VASTA!
What 3 pieces of advice would you give to someone joining Vibe Coworks for the first time?
Nancy: #1: Go out of your way to meet people; everyone at Vibe has a great story and the potential to be a great new friend. #2: Quiet sunsets sitting in the comfy chairs by the wall of windows facing 8th Avenue are the best. #3: Try working out of all the different areas that Vibe has to offer; it keeps things novel and fresh.
What’s your favorite great escape in the Pacific Northwest?
Nancy: I love backpacking. I love that there’s this physical challenge, and I’m entirely in the moment. There are no distractions from technology. I feel the same way with gardening, too.
Are you an early bird, or night owl?
Nancy: Early bird. With a cup of tea.
One of the first things people notice about you is your voice. You have a unique speaking voice that is especially inviting and soothing.
Nancy: My dad was in banking. I’d go to the office with him sometimes, and when the phone rang, I had to sound like a professional secretary. From the time I was six years old, I had to answer: “Hello, the Bos’. May I take a message?” That was one of my earliest challenges—how to sound professional as an elementary grade school kid.
You’re also a published author. Tell us the story behind your book, The Teen Girl’s Singing Guide.
Nancy: I’ve taught hundreds of teenage girls over the years, and I didn’t want all my experience to just phase out. How could I best share all the knowledge I’d gained? I donated a copy of the The Teen Girl’s Singing Guide to the lending library at Vibe for anyone who would like to check it out. It answers core questions that almost every teenage girl has around their voice and singing. It’s a combination of a career guide, a resource for overcoming challenges like performance anxiety, and a tool for other activities around singing.
What’s your latest book project?
Nancy: The working title is “Transforming Voice: Singing for Women in Midlife and Beyond.” I’m writing it with two other women. We’re excited to help those whose voices have changed as they’ve aged. Everyone’s voice gets a little lower in register as we get older. And if you’re a singer, you realize that you can’t sing songs you used to in the same key. Even Betty Buckley, one of the stars of the Broadway hit ‘Cats,” had to lower the key of the song “Memory” once she passed 60 years old.
What’s something that people wouldn’t necessarily guess about you?
Nancy: Well, I was raised in South Dakota. The Black Hills are where I feel most grounded, where my heart lives. Oh, I managed a Lady Footlocker Casual Store from 1991 to 1993. I came in tops for sales and won a vacation to Phoenix out of that.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Who is your favorite singer of all time?
Nancy: There’s no way I could name just one! Anybody could melt my heart at a moment’s notice.
Meet the author: Vibist Susan O'Meara is a Poulsbo-based freelance writer, editor and journalist with global experience. Back in the day, Susan did event marketing for the electrified Don King, boxing’s bad-boy biz whiz. Then she got roped into writing and producing TV spots for Love Boat: The Next Wave, the ‘90s reboot, and nonfiction programming for Showtime (e.g., Roswell: The Real Story). She's not sure which was more surreal—going with the flow of those Hollywood highs, so to speak, or navigating Nairobi’s magazine scene. Susan has worked in the US and abroad for the likes of Bloomberg Media, Deloitte, Discovery Communications, and the United Nations. She's obsessed with wrangling language and messaging that helps brands, businesses, and individuals to grow and shine. Except when it comes to Don King's hair.