A Little About Me
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Paul Nielsen began making music at the early age of seven when his dad showed him a few chords on the family ukelele. He immediately started writing songs and playing by ear the radio hits of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys and others. With all modesty, Paul credits his exceptional musical ear to these formative years. In 1966, Paul put together his first band, The Four Stingrays, singing his own compositions alongside his brother Pete on tom-tom (check out the classic archival photo in the Gallery!). And then, just about the time he got his first guitar at age nine, the “Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour” came to television, and Paul was smitten. Something about the voice and guitar chops of the handsome star, and the gorgeous melodies, chord changes and evocative lyrics of those early Jimmy Webb standards – “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” – resonated deeply, and he recognized himself in the country/pop idol. “I didn’t just like Glen Campbell,” Paul says. “I felt that, on some level, I was him.”
Paul started receiving accolades during his adolescence, taking first prize in school talent shows over four consecutive years. During that time, Paul was profoundly affected by the singer/songwriters and other acoustic-based acts of the day, particularly Gordon Lightfoot, James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Loggins & Messina, and America. He says, "I would hole up for hours with my guitar, working out those songs, but also writing my own. For me, it was like journaling, processing all the complicated feelings I was having about my crushes in grade school and high school."
All the while, Paul was also absorbing the jazz music of his parents: Antonio Carlos Jobim, Herb Alpert, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald and countless others. After all, guitar was his first love, and if that was in the mix, Paul was all about it. He devoured “Guitar Player” magazine from cover to cover every month and wore out records by Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, and Tony Mottola, later moving on to Jeff Beck, Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour, Robben Ford and countless others who appeared on classic albums in the '70's.
By age seventeen, Paul was performing in popular cover bands and duos in the LA area. His pop duo “Petting Zoo” (with David Starns) regularly packed the house at Shaker Mountain Inn in Glendale during the late 1980’s, and he later enjoyed great success performing with Jo Anne (Kurman) Montana in their renowned acoustic duo, “Nielsen and Montana.” N&M was arguably the finest acoustic cover act in the LA area during their five-year run (1995-2000). Their extensive fan base covered the entire metropolitan area as fans would drive great distances to hear folk-pop classics performed by the stellar duo.
Paul continued writing songs all along, ultimately making the decision to move to Nashville in 2003 to pursue songwriting in earnest. Almost immediately, he was signed by Americana Entertainment Publishing. Currently, Paul’s catalog is represented by Soundhaven Music Group. He has had several cuts, the latest of which is “The Lost and the Lonely,” the first single from the 2013 album “Cuts Like a Diamond” by the iconic Little River Band. His jazzy ballad “Just Because” has been recorded in two languages - English and Latvian! Paul performs regularly at Nashville’s most prestigious songwriter venues, including the famous Bluebird Café, and he is often featured at songwriter showcases.
In 2005, Paul released his first independent CD project, “Trust the Water.” He wrote or co-wrote all 12 tracks on this CD, which has received universally high praise. His rocker “I’ll Be Forgiven” spent 6 weeks at #1 on the Nashville Independent Music radio chart.
Paul is proud to be on the distinguished roster of “Nashville Unleashed,” a ground-breaking performing songwriter series that made its network television debut in the Fall of 2014. Be sure to check the local listings for your area, and check out the link on this site for more information!