TERRY LEE NICHOLS
You sometimes read the phrase "he/she was born to it" when describing how a person came by their particular calling. Such seems to be the case with Terry Lee Nichols. By the time he was four, he had already decided that composing and performing music was his true life's goal, (discovered while playing popular tunes on his grandmother's piano). In grade school, he picked up on guitar and banjo, adding the trombone in junior high (which he played in the school band) and also taking formal lessons on the tenor sax. As a child/adolescent, he came to enjoy analyzing musical structures, as well as composing and arranging music, in addition to performing. All of these skills and talents came easily to him. In high school he arranged popular tunes for the school's marching band and composed music for school stage shows. The diversity of Terry's music portfolio grew to include performing in rock bands, church brass choirs, supper clubs (on piano), and assorted high school bands (jazz and classical), culminating in him playing trombone in the University of Miami All-Star High School jazz ensemble under legendary musician Gerry Mulligan.
It was while he was attending Florida State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Composition and Theory, that he began an interest in electronic music via the school's lab. He also played piano in the Florida State jazz ensemble, which afforded him to the opportunity to tour with the band throughout Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Terry moved on to studies at the California Institute of Arts under Stephen "Lucky" Mosko and the electronic music pioneer Morton Subotnick where he earned a MFA degree. It was here he became exposed to world music, in particular gamelan and South Indian Sarali. As at Florida State, his attention also gravitated to the CalArts electronic music lab, and he grew more interested in computers and information technology in general. While he was attending college in Los Angeles, he performed in clubs, was a church organist, composed music for commercials and began an internship in scoring for both films and TV under Randy Van Horne and Nathan Scott.
Terry's training in classical composing led him to pursue a doctorate degree at Brandeis University, but it was his interest in both music and technology (the latter of which he had developed an affinity for at an earlier age) that led him down a pathway which was to prove quite lucrative, as he was courted by several software firms who recognized his aptitude for designing large-scale systems. He eventually formed his own company which proved so successful that he ended up selling it to a leading vendor in his field. Due to this success in IT and software, his music was relegated to the back burner, but he is gravitating back to his first, and true, love, composing and performing music.
Currently, Terry lives near the ocean in Florida. Nichols refers to his music style as "a mixture of cinematic, new age, and minimalist classical," and he names Philip Glass, John Adams, Nils Frahm, George Crumb and Hal Budd as influences, as well as soundtrack composers Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morcone, and John Barry. Terry's first album, At Peace Beneath the Shade of My Father's Tree, was nominated for Best Neo-Classical Album in 2016 by Zone Music Reporter and Best Piano With Instrumentation by One World Radio. His 2017 release, the concept album We Have Only Come To Dream (featuring guest vocalist Rebekah Eden) was born out of Terry's interests in political activism, anthropology, and history. The theme of the album is to portray, musically, the assorted peoples who have journeyed to the Americas through time, from the ancient to the early 20th century. Of the album, Dyan Garris of NewAgeCD.com wrote "We Have Only Come To Dream. . . a collaboration between Terry Lee Nichols and Rebekah Eden, is ultra-rich, deep, wide, vast, and an utterly gorgeous album through and through. It is easily imagined as an epic film score. The arrangements, including the vocal arrangements by Eden, are spectacular. "
When asked how he views himself as an artist, Terry states "I sense the world through sound. I communicate best through sound, compositions, and performances. Sound and music [are] the most powerful emotional forces in my life. I will work to be the best I can be at communicating my thoughts and opinions through music. Success, failure, or anything in between, this is my legacy."