Nicole Berke

Nicole Berke

 Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
BandAlternativeSoul

Nicole Berke is an up-and-coming pianist/singer/songwriter from Cambridge, MA. 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 artists such as Fiona Apple, Stevie Wonder and Radiohead.

Biography

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, and Joni Mitchell.

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 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.

Lyrics

Box of Blues

Written By: Nicole Berke

Box of Blues

I heard the mailman say
He'd bring some news today
So I got up, checked right away
To see who it was to
But when I opened my eyes
It made me so confused
All that I could find
Was a box of blues

I wish that I could find the time
To shut off the trainwreck in my mind
Persisting like a neon sign
But in this city that's old news
And when I open my eyes
It makes me so confused
All that I can find
Is a box of blues

It's all a cruel and loud collision
When sorrow sings with such precision
Everybody's smiling, I feel like I am dying
And I see the world in blue

Oh beauty flies
And beauty lies
Why am I never satisfied?
Does anyone know what I'm going through?
So one last time I open my eyes
I break free and I run
There's no blues anymore,
Just you at my door

I open my eyes
And all I can find
Is the sun

Rise

Written By: Nicole Berke

Rise

Oh mirror, mirror on the wall
It's all our fault, the day you fall
We're torn apart like works of art
Left bare to crumble & decay

You sell the fury, pay the price
We give much more in sacrifice
Beauty's never compromised
When no one tries to speak their mind

Sing me a song so real, it can make me cry
Show me a love so fierce, it fights a fire
Tell me answers to these questions & I will not ask why
Give me the space to dream so that I can rise

Lost we are to things we see
Buried under mediocrity
Settling for the way we settle down
Sleeping sound all over town

Sing me a song so real, it can make me cry
Show me a love so fierce, it fights a fire
Tell me answers to these questions & I will not ask why
Give me the space to dream so that I can rise

Quiet does as quiet's told
She locks her lips & steps so bold
The noise, it dies down & grows old
Our souls are bought & then they're sold

Sing me a song so real, it can make me cry
Show me a love so fierce, it fights a fire
Tell me answers to these questions & I will not ask why
Give me the space to dream so that I can rise

Frondescence

Written By: Nicole Berke

If I could drown my days and flood my nights
With sun eclipsed and moon amiss, then I
So long since waiting, weary from the plight
Would build and arc and sail in search of flight
Oh, through the night

Dressed in white, I'd pull the seasons to me
And watch the autumn fall and then transcend
Prepared for winter's casket to decend
In oblivion, I'd sleep serenely

Like a phoenix, soon the sun would rise
And with it I would feel the gentle glow
Only then, on tranquil seas, I'd know
When spring is born I'll know that I'm alive
When spring is born I know I will survive

The joy of days so far away I feel
Like warmth imagined in a wandering mind
For now this dark demeanor I'll conceal
And love forever that which could be real
What is real?

Blind Dumb and Deaf

Written By: Nicole Berke

Memories fade everyday under frozen fingertips,
These tricks that time plays with the eye
But questions are discouraged -
Never ask why
She said, "My gratitude towards you
has seen better days,"
He said, "If life were a movie
I could explain in a better way"
She said, "I'm not an actress,
not a damsel in distress
and pretty faces just don't suit me the best."
He said, "Let's just hold on"
She said, "You know, it's been too long"
He said, "Let's just hold on"
She said, "You know, it's been too long"

And the words stopped and stuttered
In front of their ears
Cuz neither one believed what they couldn't hear
And the air was polluted with thoughts like breath
And the situation left them blind dumb and deaf
The situation left them
Blind, dumb and deaf

She said, "This is madness,
this talk like world war 3"
He replied, "But we're meant to be"
She confessed, she was just being honest
And truth be told, this was not what they wanted
So they strangled and struggled
And fought their disabilities
Or rather fought each other,
A fight to cover insecurities
Words fell and flew and took up all the air
And they were left in a state of despair
He said, "Let's just hold on"
She said, "You know, it's been too long"
He said, "Let's just hold on"
She said, "You know, it's been too long"

And the words stopped and stuttered
In front of their ears
Cuz neither one believed what they couldn't hear
And the air was polluted with thoughts like breath
And the situation left them blind dumb and deaf
The situation left them
Blind, dumb and deaf

Reasons

Written By: Nicole Berke

There has to be a light
At the end of this tunnel
There has to be a sign
At the end of this road
I'm fading far behind,
Though I find I'm close to you
So comforting but true
The blue of night can be so bold

All the reasons why
A world could fall, but through it all
There's all the reasons why
Fate takes it's toll
Maybe I'll never know...

I'm stuck here in the middle
With the grave of new beginnings
Just scratching this old ticket
For some winning wishful thinking
I'd like to find the answers
Written out before my eyes
But sometimes we must surrender
To the arms of sweet surprise

All the reasons why
A world could fall, but through it all
There's all the reasons why
Fate takes it's toll
Maybe I'll never know...

Above that empty sky
There are ghosts that watch the scene below
And they laugh through their demise
Saying "they'll never know never know never know..."

All the reasons why
A world could fall, but through it all
There's all the reasons why
Fate takes it's toll
Maybe I'll never know...

Discography

~Frondescence EP (2008)
~Rise Demo (2006)

Set List

Nicole has a list of approximately 40 original songs and a number of covers tunes. Sets can range from 30 minutes to two hours or more.

Originals:
~Come On
~Reasons
~Blind Dumb & Deaf
~Fire
~Frondescence
~Rise
~Disappear
~Subconscious Heart
~Box of Blues
~Move On
~Star
...and many more...

Covers:
Artists include The Beatles, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, Howard Tate, Aretha Franklin, Fiona Apple, Janis Joplin and a number of jazz and blues standards.