Stephanie McKay holds the American Story in her being. Not that white picket fence, rags to riches story but the real American story. Raised with a steady hand by working class parents who sacrificed their dreams for the next generation, Stephanie found her voice in middle school. Singing the lead in a junior high school concert, she brought her father to tears with the beauty of her voice. And so the path forward was set; auditions followed and led her to a scholarship in the Alvin Ailey children’s program. Stephanie had ambitions of joining the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, but after a knee injury she set her sights on college. Her mother encouraged her to put aside financial concerns, and soon she made her way to Philadelphia’s University Of The Arts, studying dance with some of the greatest performers of their time.
Life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans, of course, and so it was not long before Stephanie answered an ad for a singing gig that changed her path. She became one of three girls in The Promise, recording an album for Arista Records with Kashif as producer. Top names were around, from Greg Philiganes to Lisa Fisher and Paulette McWilliams. Stephanie cut her teeth in this high level environment, making connections and enjoying the spotlight, but with a careful eye on the dangers of the music business.
Stephanie McKay has walked the challenging line between the pitfalls of fame and the real heart of musical expression. Her credits show her careful selection of collaborations; not just gigs but an organic evolution of her connections. Kelis, Amp Fiddler, Roy Hargrove, Brooklyn Funk Essentials, Yasiin Bey, Talib Kweli, DJ Spinna, and more – each has a specific individuality, and have held their art above commercial success.
After two solo albums and a break to raise her son, Stephanie Mckay has recently returned to music, collaborating with Adrian Harpham in the supergroup Light Blue Movers, and working with Harpham on her new project. Song In My Heart. Set for release on June 15, Song In My Heart finds McKay in a deep experimental and soulful place of expression. Produced by Adrian Harpham, old soul uses new technique to bring the full breadth of McKay’s writing and voice. From the gentle and yearning ‘Quietly’, to the empowering title track, to the delightful, life affirming track Life, co-written with Stephanie’s son – Song In My Heart is gem to be held close at all times.
Back in Philly, back in the day – Stephanie McKay would see Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff outside Philadelphia International Records as she headed to class at UArts. Somehow with the twists and turns of life she seems to have absorbed the essence of their quest for soulful music, with a song in her heart.