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She had a dream


Sometimes all it takes is perfect timing to bring your best achievement into the limelight.

 

 

When she was 20, local Christchurch musician Steffany Beck won a grant with the foundation Rise NZ, to record her song I Have a Dream. Now at 30 she has just commercially released her favourite original to the world.

“The lyrics are about what the world would look and feel like if everyone accepted each other for who they are, allowing people to just follow and live their dreams,” she says.

At the time, the inspiring indie pop-rock song was recorded professionally with a full band, released on the Rise website and showcased on the Erin Simpson Show, but that was the limits to the song’s publicity.

“Only my friends and family really knew it existed back then – there was no opportunity for it to go anywhere,” Steffany explains.

“However, a teenager did recognise me in the mall and said it completely inspired her. That really meant a lot; creating your community and connecting with them is what inspires me the most. It’s who you do it for.”

The song title was inspired by Martin Luther King’s famous 1963 quote when he called to end racism in the United States.

It was watching videos of his speeches that the American-born songstress got inspiration to write and headline the song.

“Coincidentally this even has relevance with what’s been going on recently,” she says of the lyrics which she hopes will inspire others to be more accepting.

“Helping people is all I have ever wanted to do.”

When it comes to inspiration, it was in fact her own song that inspired Steffany to write and record her EP Blue Eyed Girl last year.

“This February I realised this song (I Have a Dream) was actually the prologue to my EP – the reason. My gut instinct told me I had to now share it with the world.”

When the original was released, Steffany was a budding artist but decided to learn the marketing side of things and be her own manager to get her music out there.

“That’s what many musicians are doing now,” she says. “There are so many platforms you can put your music on that weren’t there 10 years ago.”

Instead, Steffany arranged interviews on radio stations, TV segments, even for a music magazine in India! “The whole world is my platform,” she says.

Over the last decade the songstress has been reinventing herself and counts being chosen for a song-writing workshop weekend with Kiwi icon Bic Runga as one of her professional highlights.

The brunette Stephanie from the original YouTube video of I Have a Dream has now become a more talented and very blonde, Steffany.

“I changed my name spelling as there were so many other Stephanie Becks. You need to be easy to find,” she says.

Steffany’s working week is busy as a full-time Health and Safety Manager at Contract Construction, a career she adores.

Lockdown gave her the chance to let herself relax a little and get the re-release of her original I Have a Dream organised.

“I really want to inspire people. Especially now with everything in crazy chaos, you still owe it to yourself to live your own dream.”

Her original song is now up on Spotify, iTunes, apple music, Sound Cloud and Facebook and the latest video went live on YouTube on 15 July.

 

Song Spotify/ iTunes/ Apple Music

smarturl.it/SteffanyBeck

Music video

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nq_x6Xi4buA

Social media

www.facebook.com/steffanybeckmusic/


 

Canterbury’s country crooner: Miranda Easten


Miranda Easten has been putting pen to paper since she was nine years old, but it wasn’t until she picked up a guitar that her poetry melded with music.

 

PHOTOS KONRAD KREATIVE

 

“Most of my best songs have started with a feeling,” the beautiful country singer says from the studio at SOLE Music Academy, a dedicated, world-class music hub headed by international platinum recording artist Sacha Vee on the ground floor of the historic Woods Mill Building in Addington.

While some of her songs are autobiographical, some are a means of expressing powerful topics that have ranged from climate change to a high-profile murder case.

But it’s not all doom and gloom; with a strong message of preserving hope through the good times and the bad.

“I love being able to turn feelings and emotions into something tangible,” she says.

Born and bred in Christchurch, Miranda gained singing experience by performing with the Christchurch School of Music, before going on to study Contemporary Music and Performance at Ara Institute of Canterbury Music Arts.


Released in February this year, her debut single Cowboy Lullaby from her upcoming album has already been met with acclaim from critics, quickly rising to #16 on the Official Top 40 Country Music Chart in Australia, where the country genre enjoys a higher profile.

In 2010, Miranda charted on Christchurch radio station The Breeze, singing a cover of Till it Feels Like Cheating by Jewel, who has been a major influence on her sound and style.

Just two years later, she featured on the Voices of Country compilation album, released by Compass FM.

“If I couldn’t put pen to paper or emotion to song, then I would be thoroughly lost,” Miranda says.

“It’s a unique opportunity to be able to write about powerful topics and tell a story through music.”

In 2014, Miranda formed a duo called The Manuka Set with Vanessa Kelly, who had three #1 hit singles in New Zealand with Deep Obsession.

The Manuka Set has created several songs and music videos which illuminate current events and social issues.

Their latest music video highlights the peril our oceans face due to plastic and other synthetics.

Her new single Only One has just been released. Produced by world-renowned producer Greg Haver (Melanie C, Kimbra), and recorded with New Zealand band Tiny Ruins at Roundhead Studios, the song is an “uplifting song about proclaiming an unbreakable love for someone, when it feels like no words are adequate or worthy enough”.

Written in under an hour, Miranda says working on the track with Greg Haver and the Roundhead Studios team was amazing.

“I had to keep pinching myself,” she says.

“I had a lot of input into the single and, even though it was the first time we had worked together, Greg knew how I wanted it to sound. We worked really well together; he’s very funny!” she says.

With huge support coming from Australia, there are big plans in the works, which include setting up a band and touring our neighbouring country.

She’s co-writing with Brisbane singer-songwriter Shane Nicholson and they’re working towards a late-January release of new music.

“I can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to observe the world and write about it. I’m so privileged to be able to do what I do.”

On 25 July, Miranda will be performing at a SOLE Showcase, alongside other local performers. For more information, find the event page on Facebook or for tickets, visit www.eventbrite.com.


 

Wig-ging out


Gin Wigmore is using her extraordinary gravelly voice to speak up for the underdog. She tells Melinda Collins about a cause close to her heart.

 

Gritty, powerful and just a little bit badass could equally be used to describe Gin Wigmore’s music or her aesthetic and, while singing is still her first love, the Kiwi powerhouse who wrote her first award-winning song Angelfire at just 14 is now using her distinctively raspy voice to speak out and speak up.

Free for the first time of the constraints of a major label since her debut album, 2009’s Holy Smoke, the Auckland-born, now US-based singer and songwriter is “elated!”

“Truly elated. It feels like I have come loose from the pack to ride on my own. And I love it!”

Symbolising the milestone, her newly-released single Hangover Halo, is about finding contentment in one’s self, its inspiration drawn from “The lessons I have learned from youth into adulthood and in turn having a reflective moment on how simply being granted the opportunity to be born and exist on this amazing planet is one of a humbling and wonderful experience,” she says.

“So for that alone, I must raise a toast to being alive.”

Putting money where her mouth is, a portion of the proceeds of Hangover Halo are going to support Panthera – an organisation solely devoted to the conservation of the world’s wild cats and their ecosystems.

“For this specific single I am focusing on big cats, specifically tigers, as they are facing near extinction,” Wigmore explains.

“On a real basic level, I just think tigers are super rad and I don’t want them to die out due to human exploitation. If we are the problem, we are also the solution. We must be vigilant in their protection against poachers. We must be vigilant in protecting their natural habitats and making room on this planet for all other beings so we can co-exist in freedom and peace. And this is exactly what Panthera does; they work to protect the natural habitats for these beautiful animals as well as implement intensive training programs to prevent and apprehend poachers.”

The rest of 2020 will see Wigmore release a stream of music which will also support and highlight different endangered animals of the world and the animal charities that will be set up for donation in support of them.

But supporting the underdog has recently taken a literal turn for the long-time vegetarian. “I actually took the next step into a fully vegan lifestyle just a few months ago,” she says.

“For me, being vegetarian was not enough. Dairy farming is equally as cruel and f***ed up in its treatment of animals to be able to satisfy the demand on a global scale, so I decided I wasn’t going to be a part of that demand any longer.”

Singing was always her first love and despite now adding ‘hotelier’ to her list of professional credentials with the purchase of a hotel in the desert in Palm Springs, it is singing that still has her heart.

It was music through which Wigmore first connected with her now-husband, musician Jason Butler, who heads artist-oriented collective 333 Wreckords, and released Wigmore’s latest music.

“It’s very comforting to be in a creative collective that I love, respect and share similar beliefs with,” Wigmore says.

“I can 100 percent focus on my art without compromise and then completely trust the people working with me for their guidance, constructive criticism and approach to it all. It really is an awesome crew to be in.”

Together Butler and Wigmore have been heavily involved with the #BlackLivesMatter protests recently. “It has been a very big and monumental moment in time on all fronts!”

“LA is showing me what it’s made of right now,” she says of her new homebase.

“It’s loud, it’s free and it’s very powerful. The diversity, the perseverance for growth and change, the public outcry demanding justice for all and throughout all of this, there is a true feeling of community amongst the city. This is the precise reason I moved to LA and the reason I will continue to enjoy living here for many years to come.”

Wigmore has always packed more into her life than most.

On top of the hotel and music-making, she’s balancing a two-year-old, a newborn and an incontinent German shepherd rescue dog she added to the family just before the US went into lockdown.

“It made my world shrink overnight,” she says of lockdown.

“It made me realise, almost instantaneously, the seemingly mundane outings were the ones I took for granted the most.

Something as simple as a walk along the beach to see the horizon and the expanse to our lives was taken away; something as easy as popping into the store to grab a loaf of bread was now a fear-inducing exercise of patience, rules and restriction.

“It has been tough mentally more than anything, but it has provided me with a huge amount of gratitude for my two healthy boys, loving husband, awesome dogs and generous friends.”