A native of Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, James Steeber had his first piano lesson at the age of five with the house pianist of the Skandia Room in San Juan, Puerto Rico where his father Henry presided as a resort hotel manager. He moved to Ohio in 1970, where his general education was supplemented by Hebrew and Talmudic studies and even a brief stint on the trombone.
After attending Ohio University as an English major/Music minor, he quickly established a career as a pianist for modern dance, leaning on his extensive ability as an improviser. In June of 1985, Steeber moved to New York City, forging relationships throughout the performing arts world as a composer and accompanist, including eight years at The Juilliard School Dance Division and ten years at the Martha Graham School, as well as long associations with Merce Cunningham, José Limón, Alvin Ailey, and a host of other organizations.
In 1994, he presented his own dance score, entitled "Rachel" for solo piano, at the Danny Kaye Playhouse for, among other performers, Bertram Ross, a Graham leading man of twenty-five years. A recording of the work is in the permanent collection of the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center.
In the mid '90s, Steeber joined Yamaha Corporation of America as Yamaha Artist Services Coordinator. There, he became increasingly involved in producing concerts and recording artists, marketing high-end pianos, maintaining and voicing concert instruments, managing an expansive concert reserve inventory and helping to manage the relationships enjoyed by the facility with leading musicians and performing arts organizations.
James Steeber became Director of Yamaha Artist Services New York in February 2007 and held the post for four years, developing relationships among prominent artists, organizations, and Yamaha Pianos. In November of 2007, Steeber arranged for the world's first "Piano Remote Press Conference" in which pianist Edisher Savitsky performed up-coming concert selections from his home, via Yamaha Disklavier to a concert Yamaha Disklavier assembled before the press in New York.
As a photographer, Steeber has been highly active. His photographic background included his father's own professional photographic and general graphics training in Vienna. A refugee from Hitler's war, Henry Steeber came to the United States in 1949. James Steeber, from practically childhood, picked up his father's skill and passion for photography and graphic arts.
At age twelve, Steeber took his first formal photographic training, including lab work, at the Dayton Art Institute -- then a well-known school for the arts. This carried over into his college years and most recently into general freelance work. At Yamaha, Steeber utilized photography as a sideline to help the company illustrate departmental progress and undertakings. By offering portraiture to key artists, this skill helped to foment artist relations.
As a pianist, James Steeber has earned a wide reputation as a fine stride pianist -- a style emanating from the "Harlem Stride" school of swing-style piano -- built upon the construct of ragtime but with a fuller harmonic and tonal intent, supporting strong dance and swing rhythms.
James Steeber is also a skilled writer and humorist.