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Autobiography from 2005

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"I've been composing ever since I was four, when I first touched the keys of my dad's old piano and I still remember the first song I heard. My dad was listening to what I now know was Pink Floyd's "Money,” and understanding only the sounds of the cash register in the intro, I wrote a song called "Dollar Bills” on my Mickey Mouse staff paper. The musical notation was of high quality in comparison to the lyrics on the page—none of which were actually spelled correctly. I've always had some difficulty saying what I really mean with just words.

I grew up in New York City, and I can't say the city made me a songwriter or a performer, but I'm certain I would have very little to write about play without it. Growing up in New York is just one of those things. I've been immersed in music for so long, it's hard to remember a time that I didn't know the radio, or Led Zeppelin, The Bitterend and Blue Note, a Kind of Blue Miles Davis, or how to play an instrument. I remember vividly how I came to discover them, but they've filled so many empty spaces, I've forgotten what was there before they came into my life.

I met Don Lawrence when I was fourteen. I was singing to myself in a shop down the street from my house, when the storeowner, who happened to also be a musician, pulled me aside and slipped a phone number in my hand. He told me his uncle was a highly respected voice teacher who he thought would like to work with me. I called him up and remember his words, "I work with Grammy Award Winner Christina Aguilera, Bono of U2, Mick Jagger and as the list got larger I got more excited. I am nineteen now, and have been staring at the platinum records on his studio walls for years. Doing my vocal exercises over, and over, eyes glued to the records. It was then that writing music became less of a hobby and more of an outlet. I listened to everything, played everything, and began writing songs. I have graduated high school and now attend the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.

I think the greatest thing any composer/performer can do is free their minds. When you really really let go and get lost, you find everything else you never knew was there. The summer after my first year of college I pretty much found my freedom. I got my own apartment, lugged my keyboard down to Stanton and Clinton, and left Tisch for a semester. I wrote forever, put together a band of guys who really believed in my stuff—Eli, Alex and Calvin—and I began playing at every downtown venue I could get my music in. I remember once pretending to be my own PR rep, calling to book "STEFANI, an emerging talent” and booked myself later in the week. Paul and Kenny gave me my first break, and there I was, on stage at The Bitterend. I'm now a regular show at the Bitterend and other downtown usual suspects. I'm selling out shows and playing huge NYU events and Benefits. My music range is bittersweet rock ballads to power-pop rock."

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