Nicole Berke is a singer, songwriter, keyboardist and all-around music enthusiast. After living, teaching and playing music in Portland, Oregon for the past six years, she’s thrilled to be back on the east coast. Berke’s love of music comes from growing up in the Boston area with musician parents. She began singing before she could talk, started performing by the age of five, wrote her first song by the age of six and discovered an irresistible draw towards the piano at the age of seven. She dove headfirst into all styles of playing, from classical to jazz to ragtime, and by the age of thirteen, her two loves (piano and voice) fused together into what would become a lifelong obsession with writing songs. Throughout her teenage years, Nicole taught music, continued to study piano and took part in weekly blues jams at the Acton Jazz Café in Massachusetts.
In 2006, Nicole recorded and released a six-song demo, Rise, and began performing around the Northeast while attending the University of Massachusetts. She released a second EP of originals, Frondescence in February of 2008 and moved to Portland, Oregon the following year to complete her bachelor’s degree in Social Psychology at Portland State University. She received her degree in 2010, and soon after graduating, embarked on her first national tour as a special guest performer with singer/songwriter Kiernan McMullan, where the two performed live in concert as well as on regional television and radio shows. In 2011, Berke toured and recorded with Portland band John Craig and The Weekend, performed twice at The University of Wyoming, was a featured artist on the main stage at The Bite of Oregon Festival and continued teaching piano/voice lessons and playing other local shows throughout the year.
2012 was an exciting and fortunate year for Nicole: in February, she began a four month residency at the Kerry Center Hotel in Beijing as the lead singer for the R&B band, The Soulcasters. In June, after having made the most of this successful and life-altering opportunity to perform and live in China, Berke returned back to the states where her story about the experience of living and working in Beijing was published by ASCAP’s We Create Music blog (link below). In October she received an endorsement from Kurzweil, the world renowned keyboard company, and became a featured artist on the Kurzweil website. In 2013, after a successful Kickstarter campaign combined with years of hard work and passion, Nicole released her first full-length album, This Bright Before. The album, co-produced with drummer and fellow pianist Josh Lava, features honest, powerful lyrics and lush arrangements ranging in style from soulful pop to jazz.
Shortly after finishing her album, Nicole and her band seized several exciting opportunities in Portland: a sold out dual record release show at Jimmy Mak’s with guitarist Chance Hayden, the good fortune of opening for legendary jazz organ player Dr. Lonnie Smith at the Soul’d Out Festival and a collaboration with the Portland Youth Ballet at the World Trade Center, where dancers performed pieces choreographed to the music from This Bright Before. In the fall of 2013, Nicole completed a second international residency, this time as a featured singer at the Intercontinental Hotel in Hong Kong. After performing there for four months and traveling around Bali, Indonesia for another month, she returned back to the states in February 2014 ready to dive right back into writing and playing music. Soon after, she began teaching voice and piano at Resound NW in Portland and also pursued her passion for health and wellness by becoming certified as a Nutritional Therapist. In July of 2015, she made the leap back to Massachusetts and is truly excited to reconnect to her roots!
Nicole managed to sneak into Stevie Wonder’s birthday party a couple years ago