Smartists: Becca Stevens

Singer, composer and guitarist Becca Stevens was once described by the New York Times as “a best-kept secret” with her hypnotic style of songwriting that produces a transposing, immersive experience for the listener. This quality, coupled with her subtle, haunting voice, leaves listeners in a beguiling daydream. So, forgive me, New York, while I let your best-kept secret out of the proverbial bag.

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Born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to two musician parents, music was Stevens’ mother tongue, a language she learned early and spoke often. At two, Stevens was performing with her family’s band, The Tune Mammals, and soon after, Stevens began acting, dancing and involving herself in any performing arts opportunities she could get her hands on.

“My siblings and I were surrounded by music all of the time, “ Stevens said. “My parents are both singers so it was common to hear them rehearsing classical pieces at the piano. Whether cleaning the kitchen after dinner or driving somewhere in the car, my parents always played an eclectic array of great music. Irish and Appalachian folk music particularly feels like home to me.”

Yet despite its prevalence in her life, Stevens didn’t always know she’d devote her life to being professional musician. “For a long time, I wanted to (and thought I could) do it all, including managing my own zoo where all the apes and monkeys would be really happy and let me hold them whenever I wanted. [But] I was always at my happiest and most fulfilled when I was being creative, whether I was in art class, writing poetry, singing or dancing. Over time, my monkey business was trumped by my passion for performing.”

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Around the age of 16, whilst eyeball-deep in her high school classical guitar studies at North Carolina School of the Arts, Stevens began focusing all of her energies towards a career in music. For college, Stevens went on to study Jazz vocal performance and composition at The New School in New York, where she graduated in 2007.

“I recognized singing as my strongest calling and that fusing voice with the guitar was my dream vehicle for self-expression,” Stevens said, emphasizing the importance she places in sharing her self with others.

“Creating art that inspires me, opening my heart to new experiences and being grateful for all that I have helps me stay true to myself,“ Stevens said, “…and making friends with [my] inner critic. Listen to what she has to say, but take it with a grain of salt. Then put her critiques aside and finish the song. Judge it after. It’s easier to see when you’re on the other side if the critiques were useful, or just evil brain noise.”

Stevens plans to spend her life writing and recording music, and wouldn’t have it any other way. The Becca Stevens Band has released two CDs, Tea by Sea (2008) andWeightless (2011), and are currently working on a new record coming out in the fall of 2014. In addition to recording, Stevens is doing much songwriting and touring with her band, and collaborating with other artists. Sure, it’s a busy life, but as she says, “it willbeccasmallalways be my most authentic and fulfilled path.”

For more information on Becca Stevens and her music visit: http://www.beccastevens.com

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