FAME Jazz Band Member Spotlight

Musician:  Nia Harris Burnley


Instrument: Piano
Current School: Bishop McNamara High School

Background: Nia Harris Burnley has played piano since the age of 3. She began playing the clarinet in the 4th grade and continues to play in her high school band. Nia attended Saint Ambrose School where she participated in advanced band clarinet, talent shows and solo piano performances while maintaining excellent grades in music and academics. She has studied music theory throughout middle and high school. At the age of 12, she was featured as one of six finalists at the 2013 Washington Women in Jazz Festival. At Bishop McNamara, she performs with the Concert Band and Jazz Ensemble. In search of music excellence and a high level of performance, Nia took piano lessons at the Levine School of Music and the Washington Conservatory of Music; and takes private lessons at FAME — Foundation for the Advancement of Music & Education.
Although she is a strong classical pianist, Nia wanted to satisfy her interest in learning to play jazz, so she participated in Bishop McNamara’s Jazz Summer Camp and attended the Washington Jazz Arts Institute during the summer of 2015. These experiences prepared her to successfully compete for her position as FAME Jazz Band pianist. Although she is only 15 years old, she has an extensive list of accomplishments and has studied under notable musicians. Nia received private instruction from and/or performed with Dr. Hui-Yen Chang, Eric Hall, Dionne Laufman, Nina Kozin, Dante Childres and Dimitri Nassar.

Nia comes from an accomplished musical family; her grandfather is the late legendary jazz saxophonist Eddie Harris. She is grateful for the sacrifice, time and other resources provided by her parents, Yvonne and Kenneth Burnley, and her grandmother, Sara Harris, that enables her to achieve her musical and academic pursuits.

Personal Statement: “I am thankful for the music training and opportunities that have been afforded me throughout my life. I plan to share my gifts with other young musicians. I believe participation in the FAME Jazz Band can help me achieve personal and artistic goals by helping me become a more rounded and focused musician. I can also learn new things and become a better and more experienced musician. It will also be nice to play in our community.”