By Lynette Carrington
It’s not every day that a solo singer can boast of having been on tour singing with Janet Jackson, Duran Duran, Pharrell Williams, Nicki Minaj and Justin Timberlake. Then again, not every singer is Erin Stevenson. The smart, sassy, sexy and multi-talented R&B and soul singer is killing it on the music scene with her new song, “Hangin.”
Recently, I had a chance to catch up with Ms. Stevenson to get the latest on her career and new release. “I’ve always been the family clown, ever since I was a little kid,” says Texas native, Stevenson. “I would just get up and sing songs that I had no idea about… Now that I’m older, I’m like, ‘What was I thinking?!?’ I would sing all these blues songs about love, sex, divorce and everything else.”
Years ago, Stevenson’s uncle saw the potential in his talented young niece during a family get together in Louisiana and took a strong stance. As former military, he had some admittedly scary feet and threatened to put them to use. Stevenson recalls, “He said, ‘If you don’t be still and sing for real, I’m going to put my feet on you!’ I literally was terrified because he knew I was scared of his feet!” She stood still and obediently sang Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All.” Her uncle promptly took off his hat and passed it around as a collection plate. “From that moment, I knew I was going to sing for the rest of my life,” notes Stevenson.
Stevenson’s voice is a gorgeous blend reminiscent of the great Etta James, Gladys Knight, Whitney Houston and just a pinch of Adele. “I’m self taught. It’s a gift; it’s from God, you know,” says Stevenson of her singing prowess. “I’ve never had any ‘real’ training, of course, except church.” Additionally, the vocalist plays several instruments having worked her way through band in school. But, her passion is singing and she has elevated her art into the stratosphere.
On Her own Terms
Defining her passion on her own terms is a keen skill of Stevenson. As a pre-teen, she had begun singing in a group called Girls Tyme with a then-unknown Beyoncé Knowles and Kelly Rowland, a girl group which ultimately became Destiny's Child. But, Stevenson wanted to do things her own way. “I even knew at a young age that I was meant for more,” says Stevenson. Although she gives mad props to Destiny’s Child and the careers of Queen Bey and Rowland, at her young age, she just recognized it was not the route for her to sign a contract with this group. “I told my mom as we were about to sign the contract – I looked up and said, ‘Mom, I really want to sing, but I want to go home because I really want to sing.’” Her mother didn’t question her daughter then, and to this day, Stevenson’s mother is her biggest cheerleader and supporter. The young singer ultimately wanted the freedom to sing, write, arrange, dance, choreograph and anything else in the creative realm that she wanted to do.
To NASA… and Beyond
A self-professed “hip nerd,” Stevenson went on to get her college degree. Craving a sense of normalcy after some touring, she walked into NASA sporting a daring red mohawk. She was immediately hired on the spot, Stevenson thinks, because they were looking for someone smart that was different; a different energy and talent. “My boss and I still keep in touch to this day,” states the singer. “I worked there for three years. I was corporate by day, and a singer at night.” Her passion came calling strong once again. “You can’t run from what you’re meant to do. It’s a decision that you have to make,” she states matter-of-factly. Ultimately, working at NASA was not her passion and she moved on in her career. One day, she gave her NASA boss her CD and told him if he thought it was good, to please fire her. She got notice that evening! The very next day, Stevenson got a call that she was wanted to sing for the Janet Jackson tour.
“I can honestly say I have worked with some of the best entertainers that the world has ever seen. I’m such a blessed girl,” Stevenson says. “Even now, I’m working with Duran Duran, who I admired as a kid. Then you have pop star Justin Timberlake, and his tour was absolutely amazing to watch and to be part of.” She has also sung with Jennifer Lopez and John Legend, and is grateful for all those experiences, learning valuable industry lessons as she goes. Specifically, she singles out Duran Duran for being really cool, down-to-earth people who have taught her so much about the current industry climate of being a rock star. “Hands down, no matter what you say about them, they have great music, and it’s timeless,” gushes Stevenson. “And their fans? There are kids out there! I see children out there 10-years old singing the lyrics to their songs and I think that’s a testament to what people are hungry for in the music industry today.”
After a previous EP release few years ago called “Hot Damn,” this talented gal poured her all into new song, “Automatic,” and her most recent offering, “Hangin.” Stevenson explains, “Being a background singer, you can get on the ‘hamster wheel.’ The only way to really put yourself out there as an artist, is to consider yourself an artist.”
She continues, “’Hangin’ is the first record I’ve put out where I have to take a leap of faith.” In fact, Ms. Stevenson turned down the next leg of Janet Jackson’s tour to stay and tour in support of her own solo efforts. “This is my own destiny and I have to kick myself off that hamster wheel!”
“I’m actually going to tour, make appearances and give interviews. I didn’t get a chance to do all those things with the other records I put out. I don’t really think they had their just due, because I didn’t give them their just due,” Stevenson says. “Hangin” is her second recent single off her new album which will be coming soon and her singles are currently available everywhere that digital music is available.
“I’m naturally upbeat and positive, and that’s who I am. Thank God for the personality I have!” finishes Stevenson. Learn more about this talented powerhouse at www.erinstevensonmusic.com, or join her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/erinstevensonmusic/?fref=ts and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/erinstevenson.