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Becca Stevens

Becca Stevens

Becca Stevens
@ the Royal Festival Hall
14 November 2015

Click an image to enlarge.

Biography

The multifaceted singer-songwriter-guitarist has already won widespread acclaim and built a loyal fan base, both for her own visionary releases and for her work as a versatile collaborator who has lent her talents to a diverse array of projects with a wide assortment of rock, pop, jazz and contemporary classical musicians. Her 2011 breakthrough album “Weightless” with the Becca Stevens Band, was widely celebrated by critics and fans alike, establishing Stevens as a startlingly original creative force with a seemingly limitless future.

“The concept behind recording “Weightless” was to document the songs exactly as we played them live,” Stevens says. “But for Perfect Animal, I chose to take advantage of the opportunities of being in the studio, and spend time crafting the sonic landscape of each individual song. It was an inspiring challenge to craft this larger sound, while still maintaining the complexity and dynamics of the arrangements.”

In her teens, Stevens studied classical guitar, and maintained an affinity for her home state’s Appalachian folk music traditions, while also developing her voice singing jazz standards with her peers and mentors in local clubs. After graduating from the high school program at the North Carolina School of the Arts with a major in classical guitar, she moved to New York to attend The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. It was there that she received a BFA with high honours in vocal jazz and composition, and where she met the musicians with whom she formed the Becca Stevens Band.

Stevens quickly began building a diverse body of work, and earning the respect and admiration of her peers. She launched her recording career with her well-received 2008 debut album “Tea Bye Sea,” which the New York Times called an “impressively absorbing album,” and it’s even more popular 2011 follow-up “Weightless.”

Stevens has also emerged as an in-demand collaborator, lending her vocal, compositional and instrumental skills to a stunningly diverse array of projects. Since 2004, she has served as a lead singer of Travis Sullivan’s Björkestra, fronting a genre-bending 18-piece jazz orchestra interpreting the songs of Björk on three albums and countless live performances. She has also toured, recorded and written lyrics for jazz pianist Taylor Eigsti, singing on five songs on his landmark 2010 album “Daylight At Midnight.” She performed at Carnegie Hall as featured singer with jazz pianist Brad Mehldau, and premiered new works and performed at Carnegie Hall and the Newport Jazz Festival in collaboration with Gretchen Parlato and Lionel Loueke.

Stevens has also toured as part of drummer/composer Eric Harland’s all-star band, written for and duetted with up-and-coming vocalist José James, and has written, recorded and/or performed live with such notable artists and players as Esperanza Spalding, Ambrose Akinmusire (for who Stevens composed the song “Our Basement (Ed)” which was listed as one of NPRs Top Songs of 2014), Dave Douglas, Gabriel Kahane, Tal Wilkenfeld and Aya Nishina - among many others. In 2014 Stevens was a featured vocalist on the Grammy-Nominated Billy Childs record Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro - produced by Larry Klein.

2010 saw the debut of Stevens’ first choral composition, “Soli Deo Gloria,” commissioned and performed by the Melodia Women’s Choir in New York. That piece was also commissioned to be reworked for jazz choir and performed at the New England Conservatory. More recently, she was a featured composer in the Mainly Mozart concert series in San Diego, for which her compositions were arranged for string quartet by her father William Stevens and Stephen Prutsman (Sigur Rós, Tom Waits, Kronos Quartet), and performed by Becca with the DeCoda String Quartet. She is also a featured singer and composer in Work Songs, a new work by Timo Andres, which premiered as part of the Ecstatic Music Festival in New York along with a world premiere of Stevens’ “A Contribution To Statistics”, a setting of a poem by Wislawa Szymborska which Becca wrote for Gabriel Kahane, Ted Hearne, Nathan Koci, and Timo Andres.

Stevens has worked extensively as an educator, teaching private lessons and master classes on the voice and songwriting all over the world. She’s been on the faculty teaching classes in vocal performance, ensemble instruction, musicianship, and private lessons at the Manhattan School of Music and The New School, as well as various prestigious institutions in Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands. She also participates in musical education efforts in American high schools, prisons and homeless shelters.

Becca Stevens

Becca Stevens

Becca Stevens

Becca Stevens

Becca Stevens


Recommended
Listening

 

Perfect Animal

 

Further
Recommended
Viewing

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Becca Stevens @ Jazz Voice (click to go to this page)

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