A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

Faces of SAL: Nicole Y. Walters

We are so thrilled to welcome Nicole Y. Walters, author, singer, and songwriter extraordinaire, to the SAL Board! You might know Nicole from her books for young people, like Aisha and the Ancestors or Charis: Journey to Pandora’s Jar, or from her jazz performances around town.

Below, we asked Nicole about her life, and she told us about the book that got her through her preteen years, incredible advice from her grandma, and a SAL event that still sticks with her today . . . 

When you’re not doing SAL Board things, you can be found . . .

Singing jazz on various stages. Flying across the country to see my grands. Writing picture books. Composing and deleting inflammatory political tweets. Grrr.

Favorite book as a kid?

Oh my goodness! Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was far and away my favorite book growing up! I grew up in a very religious home and the mundane, casual, courageous way in which Margaret interrogates religion was downright scandalous, and perfect for my preteen curiosities.

Before I came to SAL, I . . .

Ever heard of the saying, “jack of all trades, master of none?” Hello! Nice to meet you.

Favorite SAL event?

I had only recently moved to Seattle when I enrolled in a workshop hosted by Ruth Ozeki. She was kind, smart, encouraging. It was a small, intimate group and I felt so lucky to be there. When I found out that she was scheduled to speak at SAL, of course I had to be there. I think this is my favorite event because it was great to see her in a completely different setting and wearing a different energy.

Where are you from?

I’m from Carson, California. I was raised in a 3-bedroom, 2.5 bath house in the kind of middle-income, diverse neighborhood that is fast disappearing. I played Barbies with my friends on St. Augustine front lawns in perfect weather until the street lights came on. I’m from parents with deep Southern roots, wooden church benches, and ginormous record consoles.

What emoji best represents you?

💃🏿 … I mean. If you’re going to do “It”, do it with flare, gusto, and confidence.

What’s your personal motto?

My late grandmother, Willie Flanagan, had a saying that I have adopted as my own and is perfect for most situations. She used to say, “Little Ol’ Gal, take what you got, make what you want.” Those words are nothing short of my North Star. What resources do I have now? How can I use them to create the resources I desire to have later? Yes, grandma!

Thank you so much, Nicole! It’s been wonderful having you on board!

Posted in SAL Staff/Board