Stephanie Nilles is a pianist, songwriter, singer, composer/arranger, and conceptual artist living in Appalachia. She grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, where she was a piano student of Annie Marchand Sherter and a cello student of Dr. Tanya Lesinsky Carey. She has been a gold medalist at the Fischoff Competition and a finalist at the Corpus Christi International Piano Competition and International Young Artistsâ€™ Competition.
She graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music with a Bachelor of Music in classical piano performance, where she studied under Olga Radosavljevich and Anita Pontremoli. After relocating to New York City in 2006, she began writing music while working a desk job as administrative and research assistant to epidemiologist and bioethicist Adrienne Asch at Yeshiva Universityâ€™s Center for Ethics. From 2008-2018, she performed 150-200 gigs a year throughout the US, Canada, and Central and Eastern Europeâ€”and in her adopted homebase of New Orleansâ€”the vast majority of which she booked herself. She has appeared at Carnegie Hall with Bobby McFerrin as a participant of the Weill Music Institute; and as soloist and band leader at the Stimmen Festival in LÃ¶rrach, Festwochen Gmunden, Bardentreffen NÃ¼rnberg, Die WellenklÃ¦nge Lunz am See, Calgary Folk Festival, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Ingolstadt Jazz Festival (Germany), Ballydehob Jazz Festival (Ireland), and at a mÃ©lange of jazz clubs, DIY & punk venues, and occasionally unsavory bars from points as west as Skagway, Alaska (in a brothel) to points as east as Budapest, Hungary (in a cathedral).
She composed and performed the scores of the film â€œBarkâ€ (2017) and Radio Hamburgâ€™s production of East of Eden (2020), and she has self-released six albums, three of which were picked up for European distribution by German roots label Tradition & Moderne. She is a fellow of the Wurlitzer Foundation and was a 2020 composer-in-residence in Taos, New Mexico.
Her conceptual piece â€œLambs to the Slaughter: Iâ€ was featured as the inaugural artwork of Gradient Project Space in Thomas, WV in 2016. To date she has also authored and published two cozy mystery novels as "soft-core porn for post-menopausal women" under an undisclosed penname.
Her collection of arrangements of the music of Charles Mingus for solo piano, I Pledge Allegiance to the Flagâ€”The White Flag, is slated for a tentative Sept 2020 release by Sunnyside Recordsâ€”the labelâ€™s first solo jazz release by a female artist. Stephanie currently splits her time between Louisville, Kentucky and Tucker County, West Virginia.