Musical career of Elgin native Daryl Nitz spans gospel to cabaret
By Myrna Petlicky For Sun-Times Media October 16, 2013 5:06PM
Daryl Nitz | Submitted
Updated: November 18, 2013 7:20AM
Daryl Nitz was 9 years old when he made his solo singing debut at Immanuel Baptist Church in Elgin. Forty years later, he’s still making beautiful music.
The Elgin native will receive the Gold Coast Award from Chicago Cabaret Professionals at its 15th anniversary gala on Sunday at Park West Theatre in Chicago. Nitz is being honored for his contributions to cabaret. He will sing at the gala, as will other top Chicago cabaret artists.
Nitz has performed every Saturday night for 14 years at Davenport’s Cabaret and Piano Bar as part of the Nitz-Howe experience with accompanist George Howe. He also has performed at Park West, Royal George Theatre, Mercury Theater, Metropolis Performing Arts Center and other prestigious venues. In addition, Nitz is known for doing spot-on impressions of about 30 other singers, from Billie Holiday to Neil Diamond.
His repertoire has changed from the early days.
“I remember singing a solo of ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow,’ ” Nitz recalled of his early church performances.
He expanded his repertoire beyond gospel at Larkin High School in Elgin, exhibiting the talent for humor that has been a hallmark of his cabaret performances. “They cast me as Mr. Snow in ‘Carousel,’ ” he said.
Nitz also performed at Elgin Community Theatre but admitted, “I never really considered myself a singer. I just enjoyed it.”
He earned an acting and directing degree from Northern Illinois University but wasn’t in many musicals there. “They didn’t know what to do with me and my long legs,” he joked. “They let people dance around me.”
After graduation, Nitz moved to Chicago, where he enjoyed watching cabaret artists at local clubs. By the time he was 23, Nitz was singing in those clubs. He also served as entertainment director on the Spirit of Chicago.
Despite his busy performing schedule, Nitz — who earned a master of education degree from DePaul University and a master of arts degree in speech from Northeastern Illinois University — is a full-time teacher.
He has worked at Glen Grove Elementary School in Glenview for 15 years, teaching fourth and fifth grades.
“I tell people I have a daytime show, which is teaching, and I have a nighttime show,” he said. “Very different audiences, but I enjoy both so much.”
Information on the gala is at www.chicagocabaret.org.