VENTS Magazine: Rick Stephenson Release New Single

This came across my desk today, as a reminder our words matter. In 2007 I was working for a publication and as part of my contract I did reviews of new music ... today, in 2016, nine years later, the artist is quoting me.....

Rick Stephenson Release New Single

Rick Stephenson returns with his new single “Make It Real”. Watch here

Simply put, Rick Stephenson is a Singer/Songwriter from Johnson Creek, WI who offers traveling worship ministries.  However there’s much more to Rick than can be simply put.  He has a passion for leading others in worship and has a creative way of expressing it through his music.  He has won awards from the Song Door International Competition, Great Lakes Songwriting Contest and Write About Jesus.  Rick has also had radio airplay of several of his songs including:  “Sanctuary of My Heart”, “You Gave”, “Christmas Is Here”, “God Himself”, “Christmas Is Jesus”, “Rebuild My Heart” and “Center of My Heart” on US and International stations as well as numerous Internet radio sites.

Rick Stephenson was born in Libertyville, Illinois and raised in Rockford, Illinois. His journey into music began at the age of eight during a ride in his family’s Chevy.  He explains, “I vividly remember sitting on the seat of that big old El Camino.  As I was tapping my fingers along to the car stereo, my mom suddenly turned and suggested that my fingers needed piano lessons.”  Soon after, his parents enrolled him in piano lessons and Rick began his travels down “El Camino.”

Rick’s mother and father were very religious. Rick would tag along as they attended daily church services and when they practiced in the choir. It was the exposure to church music that had a massive influence on young Rick. “I remember my dad telling me that I sang too quiet, like a church mouse,” Stephenson continues, “so I would keep singing louder until everyone could hear me.” This theme of singing loud enough to be heard by everyone in the church would later be important for him. Rick would eventually realize that he could deliver a message to a large group of people through his music. However, he still had miles to travel on his path.

Throughout his teenage years, Rick continued piano lessons and began songwriting. “I disliked lessons and playing classical music, but I loved learning chords and scales, as well as trying out new sounds,” explains Rick. Deeply inspired by the pop sounds of the 1980s, Stephenson would lay awake at night with his Sony Walkman drifting off to the sounds of Top 40 radio. By his late teens Rick was a budding songwriter who had developed the ability to compose rich, melodic compositions.

After high school, Rick remained very much involved with music while attending a community college. He was active in choir, theatre, and performed with music review troops. After leaving for a four year college, his parents recommended a traditional field of study. His choice was to be an accountant, like his father. From the age of nineteen to twenty-eight, Rick was completely out of music. He landed a job that would take him around the world. However, these twists and turns in the path still had importance. It gave him the opportunity to see the world, and learn about people from all walks of life, and this would be important later for his ministry.

In 1994, Rick had a rekindling of his spiritual faith and an awakening of his muses. While attending worship services by gospel artist Vicki Yohe, he had an epiphany. He began to comprehend what God wanted him to do with his life – be an instrument to spread God’s message. Rick became sure of his calling at a Morton Bustard Ministries event in 1995. It would be at this event that God made a promise to use Rick to minister to others. Rick recalled his ability as a “church mouse” and knew he could be heard – he was back on the path.

The years that followed allowed Rick to develop into a strong minister and worship leader as he soaked up the Bible and began to dive back into music. By 2002, Stephenson was taking his songwriting seriously and began to compose new material. In 2005 he started his own ministry and in 2007, his own publishing company called N-Siteful Music to facilitate the release of his debut CD entitled Sanctuary of My Heart. The album examines one’s relationship with God. With pop sounds and eclectic styles, Stephenson’s debut is a unique blend of Christian music with a mainstream and pop style. The album has received many positive reviews for its uplifting and lively songs. Bev Moser of Music News Nashville wrote, “Each song on this project has a high-energy feel and an excitement of living life with the appreciation of Christ’s guidance.” Sanctuary of My Heart reveals Rick’s purpose in his music. He has now become both musician and minister.

Rick’s goal is that people are blessed by God through his ministry and songwriting. He sees himself as an instrument of the Holy Spirit – a musical messenger to lead others to intimacy with God. Stephenson explains “I love to see how a particular song will touch or encourage someone in my audience. I then know that God has used me to reach them. That is an awesome experience and an incredible responsibility for me.” According to Rick, “we are all on a spiritual journey to discover God and His promises.” If so, it’s certainly a unique journey that Rick Stephenson has taken on “El Camino” – “the path” from piano to promise in a truly evangelical evolution.

MUSICROW MAGAZINE: #CMTNextWomen Honors New Class, Debuts Award, Announces 2017 Tour

• November 1, 2016 •  
CMT Next Women of Country Group. Photo: Bev Moser
CMT Next Women of Country Group. Photo: Bev Moser

Three inductees into CMT’s Next Women of Country class of 2016 performed alongside alumna and other newcomer artists and during the network’s fourth annual celebration, held Tuesday afternoon (Nov. 1) at City Winery.
Maggie Rose, Lucie Silvas and Margo Price were among those selected to offer songs on behalf of their freshman class, including Caitlyn Smith, Jamie Lynn Spears, Jillian Jacqueline, Kree Harrison, Logan Brill, Post Monroe and Runaway June.

Brandy Clark. Photo: Eric T. Parker
Brandy Clark. Photo: Eric T. Parker

Surprise co-host Brandy Clark performed “Two Kids No Husband” before CMT Sr. VP of Music Strategy and Talent, Leslie Fram, surprised her with the first annual CMT Next Women of Country Impact Award.
“We started the [Next Women] franchise because of Brandy Clark,” said Fram after Clark detailed how a promise of support from the executive led her to spend her savings on a video for “Stripes.”

Pictured (L-R): Lauren Alaina, Martina McBride, CMT's Leslie Fram. Photo: Bev Moser
Pictured (L-R): Lauren Alaina, Martina McBride, CMT’s Leslie Fram. Photo: Bev Moser

Two in-the-round performances were delivered. Before the second round, Martina McBride made a surprise appearance to announce her Love Unleashed Tour will be amplified by CMT’s Next Women series and feature special guest Lauren Alaina.
“CMT’s Next Women of Country is a movement that I truly believe in—throughout my career I’ve championed women,” said McBride. “Mentoring and passing along any lessons or knowledge we’ve learned to the new generation is really important and I’m learning from them. For women, when one of us wins, we all win and we’re stronger when we support each other. I’m thrilled to be a part of this!”

Pictured (L-R): Tara Thompson, Mickey Guyton, Maggie Rose, Maddie & Tae, Aubrie Sellers. Photo: Bev Moser
Pictured (L-R): Tara Thompson, Mickey Guyton, Maggie Rose, Maddie & Tae, Aubrie Sellers. Photo: Bev Moser

Kicking off the first round of performances were Aubrie Sellers (“New City Blues” and a cover of The Kinks’ “All Day And All Of The Night”), Maddie & Tae (“Somebody Will,” written for their upcoming album), Maggie Rose (“More Dreams Than Dollars,” a new title and was announced as a recent signee with Narvel Blackstock), Mickey Guyton (“What I’ve Yet To Find,” a Lady Antebellum-written song she found before getting signed), and Tara Thompson (“A World Without Willie,” co-written with Alex Kline, Erin Enderlin, Leslie Satcher).

Pictured (L-R): RaeLynn, Margo Price, Lucie Silvas, Lindsay Ell, Lauren Alaina. Photo: Bev Moser
Pictured (L-R): RaeLynn, Margo Price, Lucie Silvas, Lindsay Ell, Lauren Alaina. Photo: Bev Moser

Alaina led the second round of performances (“Road Less Traveled”) with additional artists Lindsay Ell (“All Alright”), Lucie Silvas (“I Really Loved You”), Margo Price (“Hands Of Time”), and RaeLynn (“Love Triangle”).
“Four years ago we identified a gaping hole in the industry,” said Fram. “[We tried to find a way] for women to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, support each other, and grow female voices in our industry. So much has happened in the last few years, we’ve had a tour going into its third year, a digital franchise, 20 artists in the CMT studio, and our next class.”