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Nicole Berke
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
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Nicole Berke is a young up-and-coming pianist/singer/songwriter who currently resides in Portland, Oregon. With a unique, soulful sound and lyrics that are poetic and personal, she connects with audiences in an honest and authentic way. Her music has been compared to a wide variety of artists, including Fiona Apple, Stevie Wonder, Radiohead, Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro.

Nicole has grown up with music all of her life. With two musicians as her parents, her love of music started at a very young age. “Nicole could never, ever get enough music. She would constantly burst into song anywhere and everywhere with an unparalleled enthusiasm,” says Nicole’s mom. Early on, she developed a love for all different kinds of music: whether it was Bonnie Raitt or Chick Corea, Aretha Franklin or Jimi Hendrix, Nicole wanted to hear it all. At seven years old, she began studying classical piano, which she took to instantly. “I would always choose the stormy, dark pieces that were too difficult for me because I was both intimidated and moved by them,” she remembers. “Even if it took me months to complete, I was always drawn to the challenge.” It wasn’t long before she paired her piano playing with her passion for singing: at the age of thirteen she began writing songs. Additionally, she began playing and singing the blues at sixteen and frequently attended a weekly blues jam at the Acton Jazz Café. There, she further developed her piano and vocal abilities and played with a number of talented musicians.

In the fall of 2005 she began attending UMass Amherst, where she met and teamed up with bassist Jesse Cafiero. Accompanied by Jesse's talent on acoustic bass, Nicole recorded and released a six-song demo, "Rise" in 2006, which put her out on the scene as "a musician to watch." In September of 2007, Nicole moved to Cambridge, MA to pursue music. She attended open mics regularly, played a number of shows, and quickly developed a loyal and supportive fan base. In the mean time, Nicole transferred to UMass Boston to study social psychology. “It is an interesting field which absolutely goes hand in hand with music. The more I learn about people, the more questions I have about culture, society and the mind. It brings up important thoughts about who I am, why I’m here and how I can connect with others.” Poetry has also been another dominant influence in Nicole’s songwriting. Sylvia Plath, T.S. Eliot and Edna St. Vincent Millay have all made a big impact on her lyrics in terms of writing style and subject matter. “The openness of these poets and their ability to turn raw emotion and human interaction into art consistently amazes and inspires me. This is the goal I am always striving towards.”

In February of 2008, Nicole finished her debut studio recording, the self-released "FRONDESCENCE” EP. Backed by Jesse Cafiero on upright bass and Rory O'Connor on drums, every song on the EP has its own individuality, from the opening soul groove of “C'mon” to the closing dynamic swells of the title track “Frondescence.” Nicole spent 2008 and 2009 playing around the Northeast promoting the new album. She signed with KeyMedia Group in early 2009 while continuing to attend school. “Balancing school and music has been difficult but essential. I have always known that music is what I want to do with my life, but the learning process and experiences I have had so far have been extremely worthwhile.”

In September of 2009 Nicole moved to Portland, Oregon where she completed her bachelor’s degree in Social Psychology at Portland State University. Berke’s sums up her year: “2010 has been a momentous year for me with so many fantastic things happening. I graduated from college and then embarked on my first national tour as a special guest performer with singer/songwriter Kiernan McMullan. I am now starting to teach at a music school in Portland, which I love. I couldn’t ask for a better sense of balance.” In addition, the track REASONS from "FRONDESCENCE” will be featured in the forthcoming full length feature indie film “UN-HUMAN.” Presently, Nicole is exploring the music scene on the west coast while continuing to gain national exposure.

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Nicole Berke
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