As an undergrad at Princeton, Stu Nunnery ’71 played guitar and sang at Tower Club (and at the Holiday Inn on Route 1). After college, he released an album that placed two singles on the top 100 of the pop charts. And in the decade that followed, Nunnery had a successful run composing songs for the advertising industry.
Nunnery’s life in music ended abruptly in the early 1980s, when he suffered a serious hearing loss. Relying on hearing aids, he was able to converse in everyday life, but his ability to hear music was gone.
This month, however, with help from advances in hearing-aid technology, a stint in what he calls “music rehab,” and a successful Kickstarter campaign, Nunnery is preparing to return to the recording studio to complete a new album.
Nunnery told PAW that several factors made the comeback possible. After the initial loss, his hearing stabilized, so his condition has been fairly constant since 1982. In the years since then, technology improved to enable music-specific settings, or programs, in hearing aids, which gave him a chance to hear music as he did in his performing days. Nunnery also found a teacher who could help him — Geoff Plant, a Boston-based hearing rehabilitation specialist.
For Nunnery, the years without music were challenging. He pursued several career paths, some of which were rewarding, including a recent 12-year stretch running a nonprofit. But nothing was quite the same as creating and performing music. “I never thought I could go back to music, so I tried to find the same satisfaction in some other work,” Nunnery said. “I never did — I never found that.”
Musically, Nunnery jokes, it’s as if he’s been “frozen for 30 years,” but not everything has changed. He has reconnected with old friends in the music industry and revived some of his old artistic habits.
“My musical instincts are very similar,” he said, “but my style has evolved.”