If you’re looking for uplifting music or an opportunity to create a TikTok challenge for a local artist’s music, you are in luck. Stephcynie delivers upbeat and positive messages in her lyrics and rhythms. As a side she would also love to see a dance choreographed to her songs Contagious and Best Life. Both timely as many of us are in self-isolation due to the COVID-19 virus and feeling all kinds of ways because it is still not universally accepted that Black Lives Matter.
Stephcynie (Stef-sih-nee) is a Nashville import from Houston by way of New York City. At 9 years old she knew her calling was to “sing forever.” Back then she would direct her cousins, making them learn choreography and perform for the family. Today she’s a full-time R&B singer and songwriter that highlights her optimistic realism, as one friend defines her. Stephcynie herself says her music is a “hodgepodge of classical and jazz, pop, rhythm and blues.”
Who are your inspirations?
My parents played it cool when I declared singing to be my destiny. When they saw I was serious, they enrolled me in voice lessons and eventually piano lessons so I could sight-read.
My relationship with God and the teachings of Jesus Christ are intimately responsible for my messages and brand. I want this reflected in my music.
How did you become a singer?
I attended the High School for Performing and Visual Arts in Houston and was initially going to pursue a career in classical music. I was a participant of Houston Grand Opera Voice Studio. I fell in love with jazz thanks to my high school classmate, Chase Jordan, a vibraphone player, who introduced me to Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald. I asked the head of the vocal program to help me rearrange my classes to include a jazz theory class. I was the only vocalist in the class and the rest is history.
Please share some behind the scenes trivia from your songs and videos. We like that you tell some of their origin stories in your blog.
Was Contagious birthed out of the COVID crisis?
It wasn’t! I released the song in 2014, and took it down in 2016. It’s one of my mom’s favorite songs and she encouraged me to make a video for it. After all, who doesn’t have virtual meeting fatigue now? I asked friends to record themselves singing and dancing to the song. I lost 80% of my work during the quarantine, like many performers so I had time. People have lost so many things; some lives are unchanged, some are dramatically changed and I wanted to create something FUN and uplifting for all. I wanted to bring light and joy into people’s homes.
In the Where is Love video why didn’t you show your love’s face?
At the time I wrote the song, I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to find love so it was a depiction of my hope. I asked someone on whom I had a crush to be in the video but he flaked so a good friend stood in. I was content with the love that lives within me, believing that eventually that love would attract the love I was supposed to have. Love found me 9 years after the video shoot.
The Best Life video is so vibrant and joyful. How did you shape the visual experience?
That video was my first time shooting from top to bottom. Friends volunteered to be actors, I wrote the treatment, and shot it with an iPhone 11 and S9. I want a certain level of excellence attached to my name and if I can’t afford it, I have to learn it. Independent artists don’t always have the budget to pay camera crews and editors so I learned to shoot and edit. I bought a lighting kit and figured out how to manipulate the lighting. I’m proud of that work because it was produced 100% without professional help, and because the true love of the day was captured.
Mighty One is a worship song. Where does it fit in your catalog?
It was the first video I released, and I recorded it all from my house. I am intentional about keeping it in my collection because I want fans to understand that I am a Christian. And if a worship group or choir wants to sing it, please contact me!
Watching your Raw in Nashville series, I wondered how you know when it’s time to stop rehearsing and record.
There’s never a time when I know for sure. I, like many artists, always think I can be better, but if I wait until I think it’s good enough, I won’t get it done. When I stop having to think about the song a lot – remembering the lyrics, arrangement, and techniques – the song is internalized and I become emotionally connected. That’s when I get in front of the camera because it feels natural.
How have you kept your creativity alive during the COVID-19 crisis?
I’ve been invited to do virtual concerts where the audience gives donations, and received calls to sing on peoples tracks from my home, which I didn’t get before COVID. I’ve participated in virtual writing sessions, and written and built entire songs from home. New people are finding my songs. It’s been beautiful to watch creative people figure out how to continue the cycle because without music we’re not going to get through this. We can’t give up on music.
How are you feeling in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement now being at the forefront for change?
I think that it’s amazing and challenging but I have had conversations with my white friends that I didn’t think were possible, things I would have kept to myself. The best thing is watching people wake up to what we’ve known our whole lives. There won’t be a radical change overnight, but people are seeing the truth about two Americas, and allies are coming out to take a stand. I love that I can be 100% true about my Black experience. I’m excited about the future.
How do you experience Nashville?
I see nooks and crannies all over Nashville to shoot photos and videos. I am blessed to have in my circle other friends who have the eye for shooting, to translate my vision to an actual visual.
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