Chicago born jazz/punk/barrelhouse musician Stephanie Nilles has been doin' Kesey proud one bar at a time since 2008, hustling around the United States, Europe, and Canada (except for 2009-2010 for legal reasons), averaging 150 gigs a year, and captivating unsuspecting listeners with a voice that would make Jelly Roll Morton look orthodox and Ma Rainey look sober.
Having studied piano and cello since the age of six, she was a finalist at the Young Concert Artists' International Competitions, a gold medalist at the Fischoff Competition, and has perfromed on NPR on three separate occasions by the age of seventeen. At Twenty-two, she had graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music with a degree in classical piano performance and temporarily relocated to New York City, where she began writing songs and performed on a regular basis on the east village anti-folk scene.
She has since sung with Bobby McFerrin in Carnegie Hall, directed the musical program of a Brooklyn burlesque series, covered Busta Rhymes, "Break Ya Neck" in the skeletal remains of a bombed out cathedral in Nuremberg, been invited to perform official showcases at SXSW and international Folk Alliance, and self released 4 full lengths albums, two of which were picked up for European release by German roots/blues label Tradition und Moderne (Taj Mahal, John Fahey).
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- "Ella Fitzgerald on speed beating the shit out of Regina Spektor" Rolling Stone
- "Stephanie Nilles, hailing from New Orleans, is possibly the most compelling jazz piano/lounge punk singer since Tom Waits started chain smoking and singing about sailors. With a voice that manically switches from sultry soul to wild yelping, not to mention mad piano skills and a wild performance energy" AudioSuede
- "Hailed as the imp of the American pseudo-intellectual set – that's some hailing – the barrelhouse pianist Stephanie Nilles is a blues-jazz scamp whose songs are titled audaciously: Love Me or I Kill You, and another one that involves an off-colour rejoinder to a ferocious animal (or a prominent indie-rock band, we're not sure which). Born in Chicago and now based in New Orleans, the saloon-happy singer has played memorable shows in far-flung corners of the world. She's shared a bill with Bobby McFerrin in Carnegie Hall, and has offered her interpretation of Busta Rhymes's Break Ya Neck in the remains of a bombed-out cathedral in Nuremberg, as one does. Not a believer in social media – "Facebook is just a gateway drug to stalking" – the new bohemian Niles prefers boozier relations and curious song-based observations. Her fish bowls are vodka-based. " Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail