An opera-trained singer-songwriter and composer of “folk soul,” Stephanie Rivers is an extraordinary talent. Born and raised in Oklahoma, she began singing pop covers in variety shows and quickly vaulted to the national stage on Star Search and Puttin’ on the Hits. From there, she carved out a music career that transcends boundaries.
With a vocal style that sways from Jill Scott to Cassandra Wilson, Rivers defies easy categorization. She composes songs that blend the best of Folk, Soul, Jazz, Pop, and House. Her sophisticated arrangements and rich vocals are on full display in her first full-length LP, Time Tells a Lie (May 2015). Produced by Carey Alex Clayton (of the rock-jazz band Carbon Mirage) and released on Rivers’ SRPR label, Time Tells a Lie weaves a narrative of faded love and renewed passion. Its boozy bass lines and drum pockets, as heard in “As Long As You’re Here With Me” and “Dresses,” pay homage to old school Soul with a drop of Delta blues.
Rivers’ repertoire is molded by years of travel and exploration. A native of Tulsa, she displayed an early talent for music and performing. By age 10, she was being classically trained in piano and voice, and eventually honed a powerful mezzo-soprano that could take on Natalie Cole and Mariah Carey covers.
But it wasn’t until she moved to London in 2002 that Rivers found her true voice. As a foreign exchange student with little money and a scrappy Spanish guitar, she churned out “Helpless” and a batch of other original songs that comprised her first demo.
London producers took notice, including Simon Paul (of the DJ team Lost Witness) and Pete “Mixmaster” Hammond (Kylie Minogue), who recruited Rivers to sing on House tracks. One resulting hit, “Club Together,” swept Europe and launched her stint as a studio session singer in the UK.
In 2005, Rivers embarked the nascent music scene in Atlanta, Georgia. Working with Bread & Water, the production duo behind Tupac’s All Eyez on Me, she recorded her own R&B tracks “Come Onto Me” and “Natural High,” reinforcing her reputation as a nimble songsmith.
Since settling in Harlem in 2006, Rivers has expanded her sound and fan base. In 2008, she launched a five-track EP called Play Things. Produced with the iconic Ron Rogers, Play Things radiates with eclectic jazz arrangements and emphatic vocals. Songs like “The Whole” and “Fairytales,” with their heart-wrenching lyrics, lay bare the raw emotion beneath them.
Having grabbed the attention of the music and entertainment world, Rivers continues to play sold-out gigs across New York City with various indie acts. Following the release of Time Tells a Lie, she will once again hit the road and woo hearts. As a New York Post reporter once observed, “After you hear her voice, lyrics, and fantastic rhythms, you'll see why Stephanie continues to amaze.”