Patty Stevenson's Biography
Patty Stevenson began studying piano when she was four years old with her grandmother, Annette Kunda. Patty's grandmother and grandfather Alexander met while performing and dancing at ethnic picnics. They ran a music and dance school in Chicago for many years. Alexander wrote over 200 pieces, many for his grandchildren to play.
He also built violins. The other side of the family was musical as well. Patty's dad, John Stevenson, joked of being able to play clarinet and player piano at the same time. His dad, Harry Stevenson, played in a Dixieland jazz band in Chicago while Harry's mother, Gwendolyn Cole, toured the world as a musician, including with the Women's Symphony Orchestra of Chicago. Patty's attempts at playing clarinet, a Bb instrument, were immediately foiled by her perfect pitch. You see, when you play a C on the clarinet, Bb is what comes out!!!
In high school, Patty began serious piano study with Eloise Niwa (music professor at DePaul University and second pianist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra). Passionate about music, Patty would rise at 4 o'clock every morning to practice 3 hours before going to school. She managed a couple of hours after school as well! Patty loved singing in the high school choir, as well as directing and performing in musicals. Apparently feeling she had extra time on her hands, this is also when Patty learned to tune pianos.
As a teenager, Patty decided to pursue guitar rather than violin. She learned from books and friends (later studying finger-style with John Stropes at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music). In college, Patty majored in piano performance, music therapy and music education. She continued performing classical piano pieces. Guitar playing and singing were still just for funů lots of fun!
It was around this time that Patty met Gretchen Van Auken who would become a close friend and music collaborator. They had lived one block apart while growing up in suburban Chicago, but did not meet until years later when both had moved away (Gretchen to New Mexico and Patty to Milwaukee). Deeply moved by Gretchen's piano compositions, Patty began writing music herself. Little did she know that 10 years later this friendship would result in Gretchen asking Patty to perform solo piano on all of the pieces found on Clouds on the Mountain . This recording was a first for these two women. To promote Clouds on the Mountain, Patty toured the East Coast and New Mexico.
Also at this time, the informality and fun of folk music helped Patty decide to pursue itů formally. She was in a folk duo and made yearly trips to New Mexico to perform and connect with Gretchen. A trip to Europe & Zimbabwe in 1985 was especially significant for Patty, who already had a life long interest in travel and exploring other cultures.
Patty met her future husband, Craig Siemsen, while both were performing at a music festival. This would become "An acoustically good marriage" according to the Madison Wisconsin Capitol Times, Patty feels their relationship has been a wonderful blend both off and on stage.
In recent years, Patty and Craig have extensively toured the Midwest. The summer of 1997 brought them to America's Southwest, in part to promote Patty's then new recording, The One About You. Patty's songwriting, piano, guitar, harp and voice are all featured on this recording. One song on this recording, "Beautiful Day", is about living your dreams, something this recording fulfilled for Patty.
Patty says about performing, "I try for magic - nothing less! For the place that opens hearts and will move an audience to tears or smiles."
Patty's latest recording, "I Will" fulfills several dreams. A portion of the proceeds will help children around the world waiting for families. For more information about Patty's recordings, please click on "recordings" in the menu.