For the Reckord | Stephanie embarks on musical journey
Stephanie, whose given name is Hava Wallace, has no regrets about dropping out of university.
"I was studying sociology at the University of the West Indies and dropped out because of music," she told me. "It's a decision I do not regret up to this day. Although I loved the social sciences and I would have gone into social work, music called stronger," she said.
We were chatting at the National Gallery on July 30 after the singer's performance at the launch of an exhibition of art work owned by the late Annabella and Peter Proudlock. Backing for her well-received seven-song set was provided by a two-man band. Well-known artiste Peter Lloyd was Stephanie's special guest.
Stephanie said that apart from the detour to the UWI, her journey to the arts, which sees her being a model, songwriter and singer was "a straight line".
"I went from school choir (at Pembroke Hall Primary and the Queen's School) to JCDC music competitions, to cabaret performances, to Ashe Caribbean Performing Arts Company for three years, to being a backing vocalist for different artistes locally and internationally, and finally into work as a solo artiste."
As an initial step towards a solo career, she left Ashe in 2006, only to be forced to sit on her couch for three months with no work. Then came a call from singer Keisha Patterson about a possible job. Chuckling at the irony of the situation, Stephanie said the job was to provide backing vocals for a Basque ensemble from Spain.
"I toured with them all over Latin America, Europe, Japan, other places in Asia, even Russia. It was a very good experience for me, going on the world's stages. You don't get more experience than that."
Back in Jamaica, she continued to do well. Another phone call, this time from Emprezz Golding, led to Stephanie getting to record two studio albums with the iconic rhythm twins Sly & Robbie in Japan.
"Fortunately, I was able to mix touring and recording," Stephanie said. "I worked with other local artistes like Mr Vegas, Coco Tea, and Cherine Anderson. Then I worked with Groundation, a California-based Reggae band, for two-and-a-half years."
In 2010, exploring another aspect of her talent, she started to write for a publishing company, Rebel America Inc, in Texas, and through them got her original music featured on Lifetime TV and MTV. Her association with Peter Lloyd began when he asked her to open for Busy Signal in one of Lloyd's monthly We Are Reggae series of concerts at Doctor's Cave Beach, Montego Bay, last December.
Stephanie went on to not only join Lloyd on his Blacklight Records label, but to become part of his Pure Love tour, which took them to New York, Rhode Island, and Miami.