We give you Stevie. Stevie is a woman who followed her passion all of her life and allowed it to lead her into a world of photography, video, film and independent music management and promotions. She’s got a very full artistic plate. We’d like to touch on the things that she does and find out how she got there.
It is interesting how you combined your love of photography with music. What came first, the interest in music or photography?
Photography…I didn’t fall in love with music until I was a pre-teen and started changing the station on the radio to the soul station. As a kid watching National Geographic on TV, it inspired my desire to be a photographer. I envisioned myself on safari in Africa taking pictures. Haven’t been to Africa yet but, that’s coming… My first photo was published was in 1992 of Kris Kross n Speech n Wendy Moten….. My first magazine cover was “Right On!” in 1994.
As a teen I discovered Chaka Khan and fell in love with her music… I wanted to meet her… the only way I figured I’d meet her was by working in music… it worked. I met her in the first time 92′.
What do you prefer more, photographing musicians live or doing studio shots and why?
I love shooting concerts… capturing the moment…the emotion…I’ve become pretty good at that. Music is emotional.
How did you get started with photography?
I kind of fell into being an entertainment photographer. In the late 80’s I was working with Toni Braxton. I went to a music conference down in Atlanta called “Jack the Rapper” to network and to promote her. I used my camera as an ice breaker… I used to be shy…believe it or not.
Artist management and promotions. What led you into that field?
How many artists do you manage?
Right now, One…La Veda and I’m looking at a couple others, but La Veda is keeping me quite busy. www.reverbnation.com/laveda3
You are what you called an “Indie Artist Advocate.” What does an Indie Artist Advocate do?
Promote Indie Soul artists out of the love in my heart for them. I take their photos, blog about them, tell people about them, support their performances, shoot live videos and post on my youtube page in social networks and play their music on my podcast/radio show called “Stevie’s Soul Love 101”.
How did you get into that field?
Well it started with meeting DJ Frances Jaye @ Morgan State University homecoming concert featuring Amel Larrieux and her telling me about her station neosoulcafe.com. This was at the end of 2005… All this beautiful soul music that she played and commercial radio didn’t …I was hooked, told everyone I knew about it. Then in 2007 I was at the B stage of Balto’s African American Heritage Festival and this amazing
performer by the name of Sy Smith (www.sysmith.com) blew me away. We became quick friends…A light bulb came on… It dawned on me that she couldn’t be the only one; I soon discovered many more. I realized every one of her songs that I’d been hearing on DJ Frances station I loved.
I told everyone I knew about Sy, brought all her music and I started taking vacation days from work and traveling everywhere she was performing, taking photos and video of her, spreading the word.
Everyone that know me knows I love me some Sy Smith…she’s is so very talented!!! not to mention she is one of the coolest people on this earth.
Your artist La Veda has had some recent successes internationally. Tell us how you created opportunities for her.
If I tell you my tricks of the trade who’s gonna hire me…lol… I’m a promoter and I network my butt off. I know quite a few industry folks and DJs all over the world and am always open to meet more.
It also helps greatly that she records HOT songs… She’s an amazing artist on so many levels. Very focused, level headed, great range, she’s just a STAR. Everyone falls in love with her.
I’m losing count on the number of DJs and producers wanting to work with her from all different countries…It’s quite exciting.
We have a release coming from the UK with Italian DJ/ producer Phat Frank and South Africa, her producer Cafrodeep…and after the ink has dried on a few other projects I’ll share.
A lot of female artists have challenges working with men, especially because the music industry is a little more male-dominated. As a female manager and promoter, do you find opposition from men?
Nope… I get respect… they love me. They see and respect my hustle. They have been my biggest supporters.
Photography and video seem to go hand-in-hand. Do you find that to be true? Could you elaborate on how you make the transition between the two seamlessly?
Depends on who’s holding the camera. Vision is different for everyone…that’s why I love photographers. I kind of shoot video the way I take pictures, to capture the moments. So it’s not really a transition but more like my vision. And often I do both at the same time. This photographer in DC took a picture of me doing that. I use both my hands.
What kind of video work do you do for others?
I’ve done event videos, a couple of music videos, and promo videos.
Tell us about “Hip Hop for the Homeless.”
How do you find the artists that you manage? What does an artist need to have in order for you to consider managing them?
Actually they find me. I don’t go looking for them. It’s a lot of work. People tell me it takes a special person to be an artist manager and I’ve come to learn exactly why they say that. It ain’t easy!
La Veda is my ideal artist. She’s got international appeal. She writes great songs, sings, arranges, records herself and she’s loyal. She has an understanding of the industry that I find a lot of artists don’t. She’s patient and works at reaching her dream. She’s beautiful; she models and is an actress too. Her resume is pretty cool. She’s the Greatest!
Mmm, to consider managing someone else they’d pretty much have to be like La Veda…she’s ideal. I do however consult with artists and help them out when I can.
You are officially published writer. Is there more of that coming?
Yes most definitely. I’ve always loved to write. I recently pulled out notebooks and notebooks of short stories, poetry, songs and this novel I wrote. I’m interviewing a couple of artists to do blog postings on their stories as well.
I love to read; it’s one of my favorite things ever. I have quite a few favorite authors: J. California Cooper, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, E Jerome Dickey, Octavia Butler, Nikki Giovanni, James Baldwin, etc.
You are now getting into the engineer’s booth in the studio. Tell us what you are doing and why you’re getting behind the board.
I don’t know…like I need something else to do… What happened was I had booked a date for La Veda in my friend’s studio and my engineer couldn’t make it at the last minute. So I just jumped in and worked the pro-tools. My photoshop knowledge helped me and I made a lot of phone calls. We recorded for about 5 days straight. We got a lot done – once I got the hang of it.
Congratulations on your independent radio show is being syndicated. What is the focus of your show and why do you think people find it so interesting?
Thank You! I play indie soul music and sometimes hip hop and soulful house and lounge … its been called eclectic. I basically play what I like listening to. I just play good music. I have pretty good taste in music.
We’re missing good old R&B love songs on mainstream radio. We never stopped making our music, the radio just stopped playing it. We as a people always communicated through our music. Love songs are what I play. Love makes the world go round. Love is good.
Stevie, everyone dreams of being self supporting by doing what they love. You’ve gotten to that point now. Was it an easy journey? Is there anything that you would have done differently and any advice you have to offer to other women who would like to get there?
I’m still on my journey. I do what I love and I love what I do. Nothing worth having is easy. Just meet the challenges along the way and have faith. You are here for a reason. It’s Divine order. Live your purpose and always give back. Love, support and respect each other. I’m a part of a strong team. We’re all leaders!
Oh, by the way, the team is also shooting a movie called “Hood Dreamz” which is a screenplay by Anita D. Foster (one of my business partners, we met around the conference table at the first Hip Hop 4 the Homeless)… we’ve been shooting since Feb… I play a cop.
Photo Credit: La Veda ~ Darrin K. Bastfield (2nd photo)
Photos of Stevie: Shedrivin Photography
All other photos: Stevie