Meet the 'Steel Sessions' Artists: Stefanie Johnson
Local singer-songwriter Stefanie Johnson puts her all into the music she creates. Learn more about Stefanie before she tapes Steel Sessions this Thursday, Aug. 13 at 12:30 p.m.
First, how did you find out about PBS39 Steel Sessions?
Several people reached out to me and said I should apply for the show. A friend sent me the link and I figured I'd give it a shot!
In your opinion, why is an opportunity like Steel Sessions important for up-and-coming musicians?
I think the show is a great way to introduce people of the Valley to artists who have original music. It provides those artists with an opportunity to showcase who they are and their story.
Let’s learn a bit about your musical background. You’ve been on the local scene here in the Lehigh Valley for a while, but how did you get started?
I started writing music at a very young age. My grandfather had a tape recorder with a microphone, and I used to record my original songs on cassette tapes. When I got older, I learned to play the guitar and improved my songwriting skills. I started playing open mic nights and meeting other musicians around the Valley. I was terrified at first, but I was determined to conquer my fear. The more I played, the more confident I became. Once I started, I never wanted to stop.
As time has gone on, you’ve had the opportunity to play all over, from Musikfest and Godfrey Daniels here in the Valley, to Nashville’s legendary Bluebird Café. Which experiences are your favorites?
Playing at the Bluebird Café was an amazing experience. So many incredible singers and songwriters have performed there. It has so much history and life. It's definitely one of the highlights of my musical journey.
As we turn to the music itself, listeners will recognize catchy pop, rock and country sensibilities. Which artists have influenced your sound?
When I first started writing and recording music, it had more of an acoustic/country feel. Since working with producer, engineer and musician Brian J. Anthony, we've created a sound that I feel is true to who I am as an artist. It's a mix of Kelly Clarkson and Taylor Swift. It’s full of emotion and energy. It’s relatable and raw.
Love is a frequent topic in your lyrics, which are taken from personal experience. Tell us a bit more about what typically inspires you to write.
I write in the heat of the moment. Every song is a real emotion I felt at the time. Writing is my way to cope with disappointments, to share my joy and to vent my frustrations. I could have pages of words that I have to sort through to even begin to know what the root of my songs will be.
Are there any songs that stand out to you as particularly meaningful?
“Hello Love” was the first song I ever played out at an open mic. At the time, it had no structure or chorus. I spent a lot of time rewriting the lyrics and ending up recording it. I had no idea that it could become the song that it is now. It reminds me of where I started and the people who were by my side at the very beginning of my journey.
You’re set to tape Steel Sessions in front of a live studio audience at the PBS39 Public Media & Education Center Thurs., Aug. 13 at 12:30 p.m. What can those in attendance expect from your performance?
They can expect a heartfelt performance backed by amazing musicians. I'm so fortunate to have Paul Franceshini on the guitar and Don Plowman on the drums. It's going to be an awesome dynamic.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I just want to thank my family, friends and fans for all the support. This is an amazing opportunity and I couldn't do it without them. Thank you, PBS39, for the chance to showcase my music!