Musical life began for Stephanie Bruce with piano lessons at the age of 8, and singing harmonies with an elementary school girl group at Holy Rosary School in Seattle, WA. At the age of 13 she escaped the musical clutches of the nuns after hearing the Beatles and “West Side Story”, and happily embarked on the personal musical journey that continues today. Teen years spent playing guitar and singing in the folk clubs of the Pacific Northwest ended when she got a part in the Seattle company of “Hair”, subsequently traveling with the show to Miami, then briefly performing the role of “Chrissy” in the Chicago show (with actor Joe Montegna in the lead role). Returning to Seattle, she was introduced to the next chapter in her musical life when some of her high school rocker friends, including acclaimed jazz guitarist Don Mock, became jazz converts. She timidly accepted the invitation to sing with them at a few events and this was the beginning of her jazz education. She began listening to recordings of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, and Carmen McCrae, learning standards and the Latin fusion tunes of Chick Corea, as sung by Flora Purim. But the real transformation of her music began when she left Seattle and moved to San Francisco in 1976.
Shortly after arriving in the Bay Area she met (and married) bassist Bill Douglass and had the opportunity to sing with many inspiring musicians including pianist, Art Lande, and trumpeter/composer, Mark Isham. Two years singing soprano with Joanna Lynden’s choir, Voix Celeste, honed her ear for harmony and precise intonation, and her taste for the mysteriously beautiful compositions of Debussey and Faure. She continued to study jazz, theory, composition, and voice with several private instructors including Allaudin Matthieu, Mark Levine, and Jane Sharp (to name a few). Gigs in the coffee houses and small clubs around the San Francisco area paid little, but were incentive enough to keep moving forward musically.
During the 1980’s she co-founded, and worked frequently for eight years in a wedding band called "Between the Lines". For several years she also worked in local hotels and traveled to Europe and the Far East performing as a solo singer/pianist. Over the years she has done numerous gigs with some of the area’s finest jazz musicians, including Mimi Fox, Will Bernard, Jeff Massanari, Jeff Chimenti, Larry Dunlap, Eddie Marshall, Alan Hall, Ron Stallings, Larry Schneider, and many more. She has performed in Bay Area jazz clubs including Enrico’s, Downtown, and Anna’s Jazz Island, to name a few. In the 1990s she also began to present her own compositions and arrangements in concert venues such as Yoshi’s (via Jazz in Flight), La Pena, The Julia Morgan Theater, the Larkspur Café, Jazz at the Chimes, and in numerous concert dates at the Jazzschool in Berkeley.
But her work has not been limited to her own performances. Stephanie also conducted and wrote all the arrangements for the 10-voice choir, the Dogtown Singers, for four years, and did numerous performances with them. In 2000, her compositional talents were commissioned by writer, Suzy Hara. “The Story or a Girl Who” was a one-act play for which she wrote and recorded an entirely instrumental score. She has also produced countless showcase performances for her students in local venues, working behind the scenes to create these memorable events. She has written several songs commissioned by specific singers, and collaborated with lyricists providing music for their tunes.
Stephanie Bruce has released three independent CDs, “The Postcard”, “April in Dogtown”, and “Whispers from the World Next Door”, each comprised of many of her original tunes and arrangements. Her latest CD, released in 2013, features original compositions, and several songs by artists who inspired her as a young musician, including Bob Dylan and Laura Nyro. This most recent album winds full circle through her musical life, from the folk music of her teen years to the jazz influences that have shaped her creative ideas throughout the past few decades. Stephanie continues to perform, compose, teach, and study music.