Stephanie Nilles

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 Artists’ 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 University’s Center for Ethics. From 2008-2018, she performed 150-200 gigs a year throughout the US, Canada, and Central and Eastern Europe—and in her adopted homebase of New Orleans—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 Lörrach, Festwochen Gmunden, Bardentreffen Nürnberg, Die Wellenklænge Lunz am See, Calgary Folk Festival, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Ingolstadt Jazz Festival (Germany), Ballydehob Jazz Festival (Ireland), and at a mélange 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 “Bark” (2017) and Radio Hamburg’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 “Lambs to the Slaughter: I” 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 Flag—The White Flag, is slated for a tentative Sept 2020 release by Sunnyside Records—the label’s first solo jazz release by a female artist. Stephanie currently splits her time between Louisville, Kentucky and Tucker County, West Virginia.