Suzi Stern

Suzi was born in Buffalo, the daughter of jazz violinist Harry Stern who toured with The Vaughn Monroe big band and was leader of his own orchestras in Western New York of which Suzi’s mother was the featured singer. Her maternal grandfather spent his life touring in Vaudeville as a comic acrobat sharing the bill with the likes of a young Frank Sinatra, The Marx Brothers, George Burns and Bob Hope. Living in a family where creative outpourings were encouraged and being able to hear her fathers musicians come over for post gig jams gave Stern a clear sense that music was her true love at a very early age. Growing up in a home with music as its’ centerpiece, studies in classical voice, piano, classical guitar, flute and dance (studying at The American Ballet Theatre School and Joffrey Ballet School in NYC) were part of everyday life.
After moving from NY to Austin Stern studied classical voice with Gina DeCloux, John Aielli and Rose Taylor but her most inspired learning experience came later and was undoubtedly with vocal wizard Bobby McFerrin and later with the brilliant jazz vocalist and vocal coach Kate McGarry. Stern has released 7 CD’s to date under her own name (Viewpoint Records, Aardvark Records and Bus Biscuit Records), and has performed on a myriad of other artists projects. Her latest release “Romancing the Dark” steps out of the jazz idiom for which she is known, and is a collection of her own original compositions and arrangements based on eleven poems by Stern. In review of “Romancing…” Jazz Times reviewer H. Allen Williams states that “Stern’s musical style pallet is wide…a testament to her wide reaching command of many styles and her ability to match a musical mood to the feeling of her words.”
She is a published poet and her lyrics appear in the Bill Evans second edition fake book and David Friesen’s book of transcriptions called ” Years Through Time”, both Hal Leonard publications. Suzi has penned lyrics to a plethora of classic jazz compositions not typically performed by vocalists and has collaborated with numerous contemporary artists on their works such as Denny Zeitlin’s “Quiet Now” Joe Henderson’s “Black Narcissus” and Joshua Redman’s “Hide and Seek” which have been recorded by artists worldwide. Some of Stern’s musical colleagues and collaborators of note have been: Denny Zeitlin, David Friesen, Joe Henderson, Mal Waldron, Joshua Redman, Leroy Vinegar, Jesseca Williams, Helen Sung, George Mitchell, Bob Rodriguez, Bud Shank, Peggy Stern, Jay Clayton, Jerry Hahn, Nancy King, Peter Stolzman, Harvie S, Stefan Karlsson, Randy Porter, Doug Hall, Arjen Gorter, Mitch Watkins to name only a handful.
Suzi is the co-producer of Lulufest along with long time friend and colleague renowned jazz pianist Peggy Stern. LuluFest presents creative music where all the band leaders are women. While men have long dominated the field of jazz, this intimate festival seeks to showcase female musicians and their unique musical concepts as well as encourage young women who don’t often see women in leadership roles in the music business. The Ritenuto Foundation which organized the Wall Street Jazz Festival in New York for the past 12 years and now Lulufest as well, believes Austin’s forward-thinking community provides the ideal forum for this long overdue presentation. Lulufest 2017 in Austin featured The Helen Sung Trio with Boris Kozlov and Darrel Green, Ingrid Jensen, Jon Wikan, Daniel Durham, Masumi Jones, Susanna Sharpe, Albanie Falletta, Joey Colarusso and many more exciting artists from Texas, Louisiana and N.Y.
Stern and her partner pianist-composer George Oldziey were the producers of a jazz house concert series known as Casa Karen in Austin Texas which had the reputation for being the best venue for acoustic jazz in central Texas with it’s 9 foot concert grand piano as the center piece. The series attracted touring artists over it’s 10 year span the likes of Eddie Gomez, Alex Sipiagin, Stan Killian, Fred Hamilton, Rich Perry, Don Edwards, Ed Soph, David Amram, Roseanna Vitro, Mark Soskin, Dean Johnson, Tim Horner, Carmen Bradford, Jay Clayton, Helen Sung, Sorin Zlat, Lynn Seaton, Peter Stolzman, Sara Caswell, Rogé, Brad Leali to name only a few, and many of the best artists from the Austin, Houston and Dallas area. In 2018 Suzi and her husband relocated to Pasadena California for his film score and orchestration career in L.A., where Stern quickly became a much sought after vocal coach in the Los Angeles area and continues to write music and work as a lyricist.
She has led singing clinics all over the US and workshops on improvisation and “Finding Your True Voice” in Buffalo NY, NYC, Amsterdam NL, Minneapolis MN, Portland OR, Seattle WA, Salem OR, Dallas TX, Houston TX, Corpus Christi TX, San Antonio TX, and Austin TX extensively and continues her work as a clinician and educator on the West coast. She is also on the staff of The New School of Music Jazz and Blues camp in Austin Texas which is in partnership with saxophonist and educator Don Braden and the Litchfield Jazz Camp in Connecticut.

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