STEVE STEWART

Rooted in the city’s rich gospel scene, East Side of Chicago born Steve Stewart, was influenced early on by the multitude of prodigal musicians within his local community. Every Sunday, a young Steve could be found on the front row at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church observing the likes of fellow drummers Michael “Bishop” Eason and Terrance Williams.

Energized with inspiration, blessed with natural ability, in 1996 at the age of eleven, Steve began playing at his grandfather, Ben Franklin Sr.’s church: Greater Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist. It was there that Steve got his start as the number one drummer while grooming his gospel style. Later on, Steve was fortunate enough to witness a fellow drummer Calvin Rogers in rehearsals regularly on Monday nights while Steve’s mother was singing backup vocals for Ricky Dillard. This also awarded him the opportunity to watch Calvin perform one of his first ever live recordings. It is there that Steve, hearing the call of highway, set on finding new frontiers for expression, Steve made a move to Memphis.

Easily immersing himself in Memphis’s gospel scene, fourteen-year-old Steve found himself once again playing at local churches. This afforded him the opportunity to meet and play with local artists such as Darrel Pettis, Karlos Nichols, Adajyo, and many other local Memphis gospel artists. Steve was also able to form relationships, and play with the likes of Lance Lucas, Timothy Mason, and Dave Gillard, whom collectively took Steve to the next level with not just his playing, but also perfecting the art of live recordings. Many new possibilities surfaced as he began gigging in the Memphis club scene which ultimately led to pop music becoming much more of a primary focus for Steve.

Eventually he found himself playing local clubs as well as weddings with the group: Dance Street. The notoriety he gained from this period in his career landed Steve a residency on a Holland America cruise ship where he toured the Caribbean for four months with the B.B. King All-stars. Playing locally in both the gospel, and the pop communities had some impact on this decision, but it was really Steve’s first encounter with the legendary Stanley Randolph, who at the time was playing with NuJynsis, that encouraged him to shift his focus almost entirely to Memphis’s Pop music culture. After first meeting Stanley, he and Steve began to cross paths commonly at Isaac Hayes’s namesake club. A close friendship was sparked, later evolving into a mentorship through which Stanley assisted Steve in growing even more as an artist.

In October of 2014, Steve ventured out to Los Angeles, CA where he almost immediately started playing with Stephanie Mills, touring nationally for a year. Simultaneously, his skills earned him a spot with ZZ Ward which eventually became a full-time role for Steve. He currently tours globally with ZZ Ward as well as with Toni Braxton. Additionally, his session work and expanded performance profile includes work with Chrisette Michele, Melanie Fiona, Stevie Jay, and Jay Rock.

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