When I was a little girl, I practiced the piano late at night, when my parents and four siblings had gone to bed. The peaceful house was my quiet music hall; surrounded by the darkness outside, the hot canned lights in the ceiling provided the perfect stage atmosphere. I even turned my piano bench slightly to the right so I could gaze at my lovely (imaginary) audience while I played.
I studied piano performance and song-writing at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in 2008. Those were four of the most amazing years of my life – I was immersed in Boston’s rich history and culture, and was surrounded by a community of musicians who shaped my writing and performing.
I then fulfilled a life-long dream by moving to New York City. I worked odd jobs (nanny, personal assistant, seamstress, yoga studio assistant) by day, and collaborated with talented creative folks by night. I hold a special place in my heart for the friends I made in New York, many of whom afforded me performance opportunities at some of New York City’s famed music venues, such as The Bitter End, Rockwood Music Hall, and Caffe Vivaldi.
In the fall of 2011, I gave up my Manhattan zip code and returned to my Midwestern roots. During the drive from NYC to Omaha, in a car filled with everything I owned (and my main squeeze Tony), I got a call from Brian at American Gramaphone. He wondered if I might be interested in playing keyboards for a show with Grammy-winning group Mannheim Steamroller, and singing with American Idol winner David Archuleta, for a show that would air nationally on NBC the next month.
We filmed the show in November, and I returned to NYC just weeks later to perform with Chip Davis and Mannheim Steamroller on a float at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I joined them for a stint on QVC a couple days later, followed by a spot on Fox News and SIRIUS Radio, and then traveled to Florida for 2 shows at Universal Orlando. It was surreal to be playing my favorite holiday music with the Grammy-award-winning group who changed the holiday music industry. They graciously welcomed me into their musical family and continue to offer me incredible performance experiences each holiday season.
When the Steamrollers aren’t in-session, I fill my calendar with performance opportunities in and around the Omaha area. I especially love providing music for weddings and private events, where I get to put my own “spin” on the songs I play and create unique arrangements for my clients. (Listen to my latest arrangement of “You’re The One That I Want” from the movie Grease.)
I recently started Peaceful Preludes, a project that brings gentle live piano music to those nearing the end of their journey on earth. I call it my “heart project” because it is a free service, and it was inspired by a woman I loved very much, my Grandma, Colleen Zender. In the days before she passed away, I set up my keyboard next to her bedside and played her favorite songs. It brought her, and our family, great peace in her final days. If someone you know would benefit from this service, please contact me.
If you are interested in keeping track of when I’ll be performing next, please join my email list. I only do a few public shows a year, so I won’t send more than a handful of emails your way – I promise!
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