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Stephanie Nilles
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Singer, pianist and songwriter Stephanie Nilles’ story up to now takes place in four major (music) cities: Chicago – Cleveland – New York City – New Orleans. She was born twenty-eight years ago in Wheaton, Illinois, part of the Chicago metropolitan area and a town of many churches. Not a guiding factor for Stephanie’s course in life, however. But she recorded her new album back home, at a lovely Steinway grand, in a room she jokingly named “Hell House Studio” for the endeavour. Music has played a major part in her family history, especially live music making, as an extended part of basic education.

A lot of diverse music is consumed in the Nilles family – from Pete Seeger to The Beatles, from Pink Floyd to Mozart. At age five she takes up piano lessons, adding the cello later on. With an abundance of talent and determination, Stephanie becomes a classically trained musician and later on graduates from the Cleveland Institute Of Music with a degree in piano performance. „I was performing in international competitions… and I was practicing in a room by myself for seven or eight hours a day. It started to occur to me that I was unhappy”, she says today. “I started to feel like the music I was playing didn’t relate to the world around me….I was also looking at an eternal vocation of unemployment…. and I was frustrated with spending 80 % of my time arduously preparing music that was written 200 years ago.” Consequently, Stephanie Nilles decides to get out of the classical music world and quits.

She moves to New York City, working a variety of jobs, delving deep into the East Village alternative scene. She listens to a lot of “anti folk” and meets many a young jazz musician who used to be a classical music student. The varying degrees of musical quality she encounters encourages her to finally put some music to original texts she occasionally performs as slam poetry. Stephanie is re-inventing herself: „Finally I got over my fear of composing which was instilled in me by decades of practicing masterful classical works of art that I know I can never reproduce.” She starts presenting her new music at open mics and is soon gigging regularly, hitting the road with a vengeance. In this fashion, the jazz poet/singer/songwriter/musician Stephanie Nilles is born. Today she spends about ten months of the year touring the States in her car. Driving to bars, clubs, living-rooms and coffee houses for gigs. A one-woman-enterprise who made her German debut in January 2011 with a number of very well-received gigs at T & M’s long-standing “Women In (E)motion” festival.