It’s not about you. — I moved to Nashville, like so many do, wanting to “make something” of myself. I have huge dreams, don’t get me wrong. But the longer I’ve been here, the more I realize that the journey is about relationships and people, whether they are mentors, friends, co-workers, etc. I want my music to inspire and encourage people, and I can’t create art that does that if I’m constantly thinking about myself and how I can make myself look good to the world.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Stephanie Owens, a country music singer living in Nashville, Tennessee. Most recently, Stephanie released her latest single Work For Shoes.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thank you so much for having me! I was born in Illinois and moved to Virginia when I was nine years old, so I consider Lynchburg, VA my hometown. Both of my parents had careers as musicians, so I grew up around constant music. Singing and putting on little “shows” in our living room for my family are some of my earliest and best memories!
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
When I was seven years old, I auditioned for and was hired to sing on a Veggie Tales CD. Recording in that studio ignited something in me, and I never looked back!
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Shortly after I released my debut EP and music video in 2018, I was invited to come perform on the Huckabee Show and to be interviewed about my eating disorder recovery story. I never would have imagined that sharing my story through my music would turn into my first opportunity to be on national television!
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?
Early on when I released music, I created merchandise to sell at shows. I remember having an out-of-town songwriter’s festival where I had several performances, and I was so excited to bring my merch for the first time. I wanted to be prepared in case people wanted to “buy it all, even though I was just getting started. Looking back, there wasn’t really a demand for much merch. Regardless, I had my husband pack around five large boxes of tee shirts, CDs, and other products into our car, and then he would unload all of the boxes at each show and set everything up. Poor Chris haha…I barely sold anything, but there he was being so supportive and carrying heavy boxes literally all over the place! Lesson learned — it’s embarrassing to “overestimate” yourself haha.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I just released my new single and music video, “Work for Shoes”, at the end of June! This is the most fun I’ve had with a song so far. I’ve always been obsessed with shoes, so I wrote a song celebrating them! Then I wanted to throw some humor into the mix with the video, so I really embraced my spunky, sassy side haha. I’m always thinking ahead about my next single release, so stay tuned for more on that!
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?
I believe representing diversity is vitally necessary because we can all learn so much from people who are different than us. Every person’s background and experiences are different, and oftentimes the only way we can gain an understanding or appreciation of something is by coming alongside people from different walks of life and learning from them. I also think it’s important to have diversity represented because, from the beginning of time and looking forward into eternity, the Lord has always had diversity in mind. I love that the Bible talks about how people from every nation, tribe, and tongue will one day be in heaven. If the entertainment industry doesn’t embrace diversity, I think they are missing the mark because we have been designed to be in community with people who aren’t just like us. Lastly, I believe that diversity in music can truly help bring about unity because music is a universal language. If the entertainment industry embraces diversity, I think this has the potential to greatly impact and shape our culture since our society is often shaped by the media.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Always be yourself. — When I first began writing songs to release as a country artist, I was writing a lot of what I thought people wanted to hear because it was similar to what was on the radio or what was already popular. It took me a couple of years to really embrace the fact that nobody wants to hear what has already been done, but unique music inspires people. When I embraced my story and decided to put that into a song, things started to really take off from there.
- It’s not about you. — I moved to Nashville, like so many do, wanting to “make something” of myself. I have huge dreams, don’t get me wrong. But the longer I’ve been here, the more I realize that the journey is about relationships and people, whether they are mentors, friends, co-workers, etc. I want my music to inspire and encourage people, and I can’t create art that does that if I’m constantly thinking about myself and how I can make myself look good to the world.
- It’s never going to turn out like you think it will. — In all honesty, every time I release a song, I think to myself, “This is it. This will be the song that goes viral or takes me to that next level.” So far, my plans for a release have always looked vastly different than what actually happened, but I have learned that this is actually a really great thing. If things turned out exactly like I had “planned”, there are so many opportunities I would have missed. God orchestrates things that we could never think up on our own.
- Learn to say no. — I found myself so tired and stressed out at times because there is a lot of pressure to constantly be networking and taking all opportunities possible. While I absolutely believe you have to show up and work extremely hard, you need to learn healthy boundaries of when you are being productive versus just spreading yourself too thin.
- Embrace the process. — I’m a big believer in the fact that life does bring a lot of challenges, but we can choose to let these trials be setups instead of setbacks. Each experience, even if it seems daunting, can ultimately make us stronger and into the person we are supposed to be.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I would recommend to take time to relax and recharge. I’m preaching to the choir when I say that haha. I always feel the need to be on the go constantly and “getting ahead”, but I find that I just end up getting frustrated with myself for silly reasons if I don’t take time to unplug. It’s okay and good to take time off and take care of yourself!
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. 🙂
I would love to inspire a movement that would encourage people to understand and embrace their internal value. Our true identity is not about how we look, how we perform, or how other people perceive us. Your beliefs, personality, passions, natural talents and abilities, and even quirks all make up the true you. These qualities in their raw, vulnerable, and unfiltered versions make you very special and beautiful.
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?
I totally agree. We all need a cheerleader who helps us along the way. I met a man named Mike Allen several years ago through a mutual friend, and he has become one of my closest friends and mentors. When I was first planning to release music, I called him up to get business advice on fundraising and financial planning, and he immediately took me under his wing. Ever since then, I call him basically anytime I want to brainstorm or bounce ideas off of someone wise. He also lives in a way that prioritizes people, which I so admire and aspire to do. Mike is one of the biggest blessings in my life. Even though I’m much younger than him, Mike would also say that I “mentor” him in a way since he has more urban influences and mainly listened to R&B and Jazz before I came along and introduced him to the country music scene haha. We come from very diverse backgrounds, but we make a great team!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Not I, But Christ”. My pastor had those words on the wall of the church I attended back home. In all honestly, I love to focus on “me”. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking about myself — my dreams, my plans, my timing. This quote reminds me what life is really about. I know I was put on this earth to love God and love people. If I make that my priority, everything else seems to fall into place.
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 lunch with John Piper. He’s a preacher and Bible teacher who has really inspired and encouraged me in how he loves God and people. I love listening to his Desiring God podcast! I would love to talk with him in person because I think he has a lot of wisdom.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can find me on social media @stephowensmusic! I love chatting with my fans, so please feel free to send me a DM on Instagram! My music is available everywhere digitally, and my website is stephowensmusic.com.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!