Katja von Schuttenbach was born in Hamlin, Germany. While in high school, she worked as a freelance journalist for BILD, the largest daily newspaper in Europe. An avid music fan, she focused on music reviews and coverage of the Hanover jazz, rock, and pop scenes. Von Schuttenbach was a general assignment reporter with BZ daily newspaper in West Berlin in 1988 and also an occasional contributor to RIAS Berlin Radio's music department.
In 1990, von Schuttenbach emigrated to the United States, settling in California. In 1996, she graduated with high honors from San Francisco State University's Radio & Television Broadcasting program. From 1996 to 2000, she worked at Butterfield & Butterfield Auctioneers in San Francisco as Assistant Director of their world-leading Arms & Armor Department. During that time she researched and, on occasion, catalogued works of art. Von Schuttenbach appeared on national television in both the History Channel's "Tales of the Gun" and HGTV's "Appraise It!" as an appraiser of fine firearms and Western memorabilia. An account of her experiences in the gun world is featured in R.L. Wilson's book Silk and Steel: Women at Arms.
In 2001, von Schuttenbach fell in love with jazz and, after soul-searching and mapping out a new career path, she moved to the East Coast in 2005 to pursue a Master of Arts degree in Jazz History & Research at Rutgers University in New Jersey. She graduated in 2006. The topic of her expansive master's thesis was the fascinating life story of the trail-blazing German jazz pianist Jutta Hipp. Hipp, after a brief, highly publicized career in Germany and the United States during the 1950s, had abruptly abandoned her path and vanished into obscurity. Von Schuttenbach’s compelling findings about Hipp’s life even made their way into German author Thomas Meinecke’s novel Jungfrau (Suhrkamp, 2008).
Von Schuttenbach has written for various for jazz-focused publications in Germany and the United States and has presented her research about Jutta Hipp publicly at institutions including the Institute of Jazz Studies in Newark, New Jersey, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, and the University of the District of Columbia, as well as the Heidelberg Center for American Studies in Heidelberg, Germany, and on radio programs on both sides of the Atlantic including WPFW Radio, Kulturradio RBB, and NDR Radio. Currently, von Schuttenbach is working on a documentary film and biography about Hipp’s life and is represented by the Arrowsmith Agency in Hamburg, Germany.
Since 2006, von Schuttenbach has worked as Jazz Specialist for the National Endowment for the Arts, "an independent federal agency that funds, promotes, and strengthens the creative capacity of our communities by providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation". She also works as a German and English language translator and is a passionate family history researcher.