Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Stern, Leni

Stern, Leni, guitar, vocals, composition; b. Munich, Germany, 28 April 1952. Her parents were Josef Thora (b. 1912) and Marianne Thora (b. 1922). Her siblings are Hans Thora (b. 1951), Wolfgang Thora (b. 1953), Elisabeth Thora (b. 1955), Bernhard Thora (b. 1957, a pianist), Klaus Thora (b.1960), and Charly Thora (b. 1962).

Leni studied at Berklee College of Music (1978-1980. Her guitar teacher was John Damian. Her composition teacher was Joseph Smith. She also studied privately with Bill Frisell and Charlie Banacos during that time. She's been studying Indian music with Dhanashree Pandit Rai in Bombay, India since 1999. Leni started playing piano at the age of six and guitar at eleven. At seventeen, she formed her own acting company.  In 1977, she turned her attention to music and left for the United States to study film scoring at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.  Film scoring gave way to her love for guitar and in 1981, Leni moved to New York City to play in a variety of rock and jazz bands.  In 1983, she formed a group of her own with Paul Motion on drums and Bill Frisell on guitar (later replaced by Wayne Krantz).

She's also a social advocate, martial artist (she holds three belts in the Southern Shaolin discipline of Hung-Ga), cancer survivor, proud New York City resident and more. In between writing, recording, and touring, Leni somehow finds the time to run her own record label, Leni Stern Recordings (LSR), which she began in 1997. She's married to guitarist Mike Stern.

Clairvoyant (1985); The Next Day (1987); Secrets (1989); Closer To The Light (1990); Ten Songs (1992); Like One (1993); Words (1995); Separate Cages (with Wayne Krantz) (1996); Black Guitar (1997); Recollection (1999); Kindness Of Strangers (2000); Finally The Rain Has Come (2002)

Composing and Composition - 1994

Gibson female jazz guitarist of the year (5 times)

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