Brooke Stephenson: “No one knows what they’re doing”

No one knows what they’re doing — everyone is creating their own path and figuring it out as they go, you just need to do what feels right for you and create your own unique path along the way As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Brooke Stephenson. […]

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No one knows what they’re doing — everyone is creating their own path and figuring it out as they go, you just need to do what feels right for you and create your own unique path along the way

As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Brooke Stephenson.

Based in Los Angeles, singer-songwriter Brooke Stephenson tells stories that draw you in with beautifully compelling lyrics and dynamic melodies. Raised on musicians like Bonnie Raitt and Susan Tedeschi, Brooke’s voice and music are like “gumbo”, with one foot rooted in her love of Americana music, she incorporates a mix of country, soul, rock, and blues. Brooke’s storytelling brings songs to life, captivating audiences with powerful vocal performances, and holding their focus through delicate, vulnerable moments.

In 2019, after earning a spot on Kelly Clarkson’s team on NBC’s The Voice Season 17, Brooke worked one-on-one with Clarkson and her chosen advisor Normani, refining her musical palette. Additionally, her background vocal credits include Andy Grammar’s track “I Found You” and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram’s track “Rock & Roll”.

Pre-covid, Brooke spent much of her time performing at some of LA’s most prominent songwriter venues, and writing songs for her debut Americana EP “Backbone”, produced by John Spiker (Tenacious D, Beck, John Carpenter). The first 5 singles were released in 2020, and the full EP will be released May 14, 2021.“Backbone” is a body of work incorporating American roots influences, and detailing the curious mind of a 20-something year old, trying to navigate through life, while humbly clinging to her roots.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up as an only child in a small, rural town in Connecticut. I am the only musical person in my family, but not the only creative one. My dad has a very artistic and creative side to him, my cousin often gives the family beautifully hand painted gifts at Christmastime, my uncle loves creating short stories, etc.

My main love growing up was singing. I spent many nights in my room with my karaoke machine and my Christina Aguilera or Jewel CDs, pretending I was on a big stage singing to a big crowd.

I had an amazing childhood, but looking back, I realize I was often very bored because there was not a lot to do in my town. As soon as I left, I realized how big the world was and I knew I wanted to take it on head first. I was thinking the other day about how I don’t think I’ve said the words “I’m bored” since I left 10 years ago. I try to soak up as much as I can now — for example, I’ve recently started longboarding and paddleboarding. I know that’s not the answer that everyone wants to hear, but for me I am grateful, because it made me the ambitious person I am today.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Music and singing has always been one of the greatest joys of my life. I began singing at the age of 10, and wrote my first song around the age of 12. When I was in high school, I was singing at events and working towards trying to get into the college of my dreams — Berklee College of Music. In 2014, I graduated Berklee and moved to LA with dreams of being on the business side of music. When I landed an internship, and then a job at a record label, I realized I had less and less time to be making my own music and singing. I started to grow really uneasy and sad at this realization. I decided to quit my job with no other job lined up, and have worked every day to build my career as a singer and songwriter. Luckily I fell on my feet and have been having a blast on this journey.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

In early 2019, I was asked to audition for The Voice in front of the producers. I went just thinking it would be a fun experience, and ended up getting chosen to sing for the judges at The Voice Blind Auditions, who at the time were Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton, John Legend and Gwen Stefani. I was able to sing on of my all-time favorite songs, “Let Him Fly” by Patty Griffin, and after 3 chairs turned around, I chose to be on Kelly Clarkson’s team. It was an incredible experience and I would do it all again if I could ☺

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I was a freshman in high school I was asked to sing the national anthem at a school event. At this point I hadn’t had much music theory training, so I did not understand keys. When I started singing, I began the song at a very high key, with an alto range. Like I said, I grew up in a very small town, so in the auditorium sat the entire school AND their parents. I was a freshman, so for all of the seniors to be there was a big deal to me at the time. I started the song, and then knew immediately that I blew it. Even thinking about it after all these years later makes me cringe. The whole school had to finish the song for me. That was the day I learned about keys, and that I need to start the national anthem at a much lower one haha!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I am working on two main projects currently — one is the release of my debut Americana EP “Backbone”, produced by John Spiker (Tenacious D, Beck, John Carpenter). Everyone can go listen to the first 5 singles that were released in 2020, and I’m excited to say the final single releases April 16, 2021, and the full EP will be released May 14, 2021.

I also am working on growing my business as a singer, primarily remotely. I provide vocals for people that need a singer for their songs for film, for demos, for background singing, and more.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

We should absolutely have more diversity represented in film and television. A lot of times we look to movies and tv characters as the norm. We are subconsciously inspired by them, and they affect our view on the world, whether we admit it or not. Diversity is a beautiful and precious thing, and we need our TVs to reflect the real world and the beauty that diversity brings.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. No one knows what they’re doing — everyone is creating their own path and figuring it out as they go, you just need to do what feels right for you and create your own unique path along the way.
  2. The hardest part of making an album is not the recording part, it’s the “getting your music out there” part.
  3. This is something I knew and followed and swear by — your 20’s are for experimenting and growth. You do not need to have your life figured out. I’ve had several jobs in my 20’s because I am someone who needs to see what it’s like having certain jobs and careers, and then picking the best one for me. You can always start over in your 30s. So go for the thing that seems scary but awesome, so you don’t regret not trying it later in life.
  4. You have total control of what you allow in your life. If something is bringing you unnecessary negative energy, you can rid yourself of it.
  5. There is no right or wrong decision. Life is about pivoting — making decisions and then going from there. Everything is figureoutable ☺

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

My biggest recommendation is to always follow your gut. Whether you want to call it intuition, spirit, God, etc. your gut is there to guide you through life to help you thrive. If you are feeling burnt out, look into yourself to figure out your best next move. Whether you’re just burnt out because you need a vacation, or because you need a career change, only you can do the work to make the best decision moving forward for yourself. Your friends, family members, or even hired help cannot do for you what your gut intuition can. One of the ways to access this is to write it down on paper.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The movement that I wish I could inspire is what I said previously — being true to yourself, and following your gut. It can change your life completely. It’s taken me a lot to learn the power of following my gut, and that only I know what truly makes me happy. A lot of people want to tell you what you should do and be — but only you really know what will ultimately make you the happiest, and it takes a lot of courage and bravery to follow it.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Hands down — my parents. I have the world’s most supportive parents. They have never pushed me to do what they want, only guided me to be the best me I can be. I am eternally grateful to them for many things, but especially for always letting me be me and make my own choices.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have 2 that I try to live my life by, and they are both on post it notes pinned to my wall. The first is a book written by a woman named Marie Forleo called “Everything is Figureoutable”. This saying keeps me going in moments that are hard, and when I feel stuck. No matter what problem may arise — you will be able to figure it out. It could be something personal, or in business, and you may need to get your hands dirty, but it can be figured out and is not the end of the world.

The second is “Be you — everyone else is taken”. We are all constantly comparing ourselves to others, and when you’re an entrepreneur, you do this daily. This saying makes me feel that I am on the right path as long as I am always staying true to myself. I’ve learned that I can look to others, but the only person who is really going to know what is right for me, is me. No one else has ever walked the same path as you, and no one ever will, so you might as well be the best you you can be.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to have a private breakfast with Beyonce. I have been such a big fan of hers since high school. From what I can tell, she is a person of excellence, and still remains poised and true to herself. I also have learned a lot from watching her in regards to singing and performance. I just love her ☺

How can our readers follow you online?

I would love to connect with your readers! They can find my music on all music platforms (Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, etc.) and find me at the following:

Instagram: @brookestephenson

Facebook: /BrookeStephensonMusic

Twitter: @brookesongbird

YouTube: @BrookeStephensonMusic

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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