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Nick Jaina

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Hi. My name is Nick Jaina.

Why do people write bios about themselves in the third person? Generally it’s so that the press can copy and paste paragraphs into a story and not have to write anything original. It feels creepy to talk about myself that way, though, like I’m an NFL wide receiver or oil tycoon. So I won’t.

I was born in the state of California, a state that was founded by people who were searching for glinting metal in the rivers and hillsides; people who gave up their whole lives on the other side of the continent just for the chance of a hope of a dream of a better life. The journey was so difficult that it was by necessity a one-way passage. You couldn’t just get on a return flight and go home.

My one-way voyage started at San Juan Bautista Mission, where Alfred Hitchcock once shot the climactic scene of “Vertigo.” I was a freshman student in an archaeology class, and one hot day in an abandoned well my pickaxe came down in the soft dirt and a shiny abalone cross jumped out. This reminded me of an apartment building in San Francisco where my friend lived. Behind her building was a church, and all you could see when you walked to the front door was a beaming white cross. When I held that little abalone artifact in my hand I decided to drop out of school and move to San Francisco to pursue music .

I wrote a jazz opera called The Hole in The Coffin, based on a series of dreams that a friend had about me being in a funeral parade in New Orleans. I had never been to New Orleans, but I learned all I could about it and ended up moving there. After a few years painting faces there for Mardi Gras and traveling around the continent, I moved to Portland in 2001 where I formed a rock band called Binary Dolls with my brother Matt Dabrowiak. After releasing two albums with that band I transitioned to more organic solo material. I have since released five albums under my own name, with a sixth on its way. The new album, The Beanstalks That Have Brought Us Here Are Gone, is a collaboration with all my favorite female singers. I wrote and produced ten songs and brought a different woman in to sing each one.

This year I am the writer and musical director for a trilogy of new works– two acts of ballet and one act of choral music– produced by the Satellite Gallery in Michigan. It involves dancers from the New York City Ballet and singers from Julliard. Based on an epic poem by producer Kevin Draper, it tracks the arc of a relationship from formation through manic excitement to dissolution and eventually reunification. That piece will debut in Fremont, Michigan on July 27, 2011, and will have its New York City premiere in mid-October.

I have toured with my band around the country and in Europe over the last five years, playing hundreds of shows in both classy and crappy venues. To make more of an impression in town, we’ve gone out and played on the streets in many cities. Some of the best moments have been those direct connections to an absolute cross-section of people, at Jack Kerouac Alley in San Francisco, on Church Street in Burlington, or in Central Park in New York. I feel lucky to have played and collaborated with so many talented people.

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