2018 was an eventful year for Riki Stevens. The Norwalk singer-songwriter’s talent got noticed big-time when she won Wall Street Theater’s first “Connecticut’s Got Talent” competition in March. A few weeks later, she appeared on radio station WPKN, and in the summer she headlined Norwalk’s NICE Festival. She also began working on her debut studio album. Lately, Stevens has been performing with Reggae and world music star Mystic Bowie and will be appearing with him in many of his upcoming tour dates, including his Fairfield Theatre Company show on Feb. 9, when Mystic Bowie’s Talking Dreads celebrate a Bob Marley’s Birthday Bash. Stevens will sing a song with the band during the show and also perform solo inside the FTC, before the concert doors open. She recently took time out to talk about her career, thus far with Mike Horyczun.
Mike Horyczun: A year ago, did you ever think you’d be where you are today in your music career?
Riki Stevens: No, I didn’t. A year ago I moved from NYC, where I was pursuing my career. I was pretty upset about being home. It felt like a huge set back. But, since I’ve been here, things have happened that I would have never been able to imagine. You never know how the journey will unfold.
MH: How would you describe your music?
RS: The music that I perform is acoustic, since right now I perform with my guitar. It’s soulful, which stems from my roots growing up Southern Baptist and listening to Motown artists all my life. I love a folk sound, but I’ll add a jazzy chord in it, and I love some country but add a little more gospel chops to it. My music also has an alternative sound. I am hugely inspired by rock music, whether it’s alternative, Indie, contemporary or modern. I just love music. I have such a hard time sticking to one genre, because music, great music, speaks to everyone no matter who you are. That’s what music is supposed to do. So I guess I’m trying to speak to all people with my music.
MH: What’s your writing style like?
RS: My writing style is developing. I follow what feels best to me, as opposed to what may sound cool to whatever audience I am singing in front of, and I’m noticing that I have great responses when I follow my gut. It’s always good.
MH: Who would you consider some of your influences?
RS: My Aunt Cudie Mae Jordan, who’s a local Gospel artist. Whitney Houston, Lady Gaga, John Mayer, Tracy Chapman, Corrine Bailey Rae, Diana Ross, Paramore, Drake, H.E.R, Iron and Wine, Yolanda Adams, Coldplay, Alicia Keys. And the list goes on.
MH: Your concerts with Mystic Bowie: what’s it like performing with such a talented veteran?
RS: Getting to know Mystic Bowie has been really exciting. He invited me to perform with him and has been connecting me with producers and artists to expand my networking circle and genuine fans. He is so generous, open, and supportive. He’s really like a mentor, constantly reminding me that I can have my dreams and giving me advice on how to make it happen.