Steff Mahan

Steff Mahan

 Nashville, Tennessee, USA
SoloAmericanaSinger/Songwriter

Sweet and soulful is the sound of Americanas Steff Mahan. With a voice that is pure and powerful and lyrics that are heart-crafted and rock-solid, its hard not to get hooked on the emotional truth that comes out of this born songwriter's mouth.
For tour dates, news and media information: http://www.steffmahan.com
For booking information or interview requests: booking@steffmahan.com

Band Press

Steff Mahan: Time is on Her Side – Grooveflash

Steff Mahan has forged a career out of more that just solid songcraft and a smooth vocal delivery, though she has both of those in spades. She has also been one of those rare artists who has never forgotten that music is, at its heart, a vehicle for relationships and two-way communication.

And it shows, with fans all across the country who turn out faithfully when she rolls into town and who consider her a friend as much as a performer they love to hear. House concerts are still a favorite venue option and Steff is perfectly suited to the intimacy and interaction that they offer. Couch surfing and long drives to reach fans in places where other artists do not deign to venture are just part of the routine. In a recent conversation, she said that she wanted to play to anyone who wanted to hear her, even if it wasn’t always the biggest money gig. It’s that internal guiding light, that desire to share the sheer joy of music with others, that has stayed her course over the many years of struggle that is the music business. It’s also been one of the traits that has made her stand out from the pack in a crowded world of music artists, both indie and major label.

At an age where most acts have given up and moved on, Mahan is cranking up to one of the high points of her career, with prestigious opening acts and double bills, a new record label, and not one, but two CDs in production with release dates scheduled before year’s end. For an artist who falls in the category of making music because she can’t not make music, this is a sweet victory moment in a long career that has included nudists, rodeos, Stephen King (who attended two of her shows and bought a CD, though he never said hello), and an amazing fanbase that just keeps growing.

You are getting ready to release a new album on the new CMG label in Nashville. How is that process going?
It is going great but I think I am still in shock. We just finished tracking the CD and I am headed into the studio in a few weeks to lay down the vocals. It is so exciting to watch these songs come to life and have the support of a label behind me, [one] that I feel really gets me as both a songwriter and an artist, it’s has been an amazing ride so far. This album is really a combination of lots of people coming together at the right time… my fans, Century Music Group, and the songs. I have some of the most incredible fans who believe in me and my music and have funded part of this project and then Century Music Group came my way and they were exactly what I was looking for and what I needed to keep doing what I love. We have been working really well together, picking the songs, figuring out the direction of the album, and I am lucky enough to benefit from two brilliant minds, Jamie Tate and Art Ward, who have a wealth of talent and knowledge in this industry.
Steff Mahan with CMG producers Jamie Tate and Art Ward

Steff Mahan with CMG producers Jamie Tate and Art Ward (yes, they are literal giants in the industry)

You’ve been in the music business for a long time now and have defied the odds by keeping a career going at an age where lots of artists have let it go or hit a brick wall. What has kept you going and what have you learned along the way?
Well, I’ve learned that wrinkle cream is a really good investment, but in all honesty, I promised myself a long time ago that when music no longer gave me joy I would quit. So far, I still love what I do and when I feel tired and want to give up, it’s odd, but that is when I most often find the people who keep me going, plus I’m really stubborn. I’ve learned that most people are really nice and want to help you. Not everyone is going to believe in your music or “get you” as a writer but you have to keep pushing through because there is someone out there who will get it and sometimes that is all you need. I have also learned that it is important to surround yourself with good, hard working people and to work hard yourself. This is a fun job, but it is hard job and you have to be willing to work hard and pull your weight and show up for the gig where you are singing to two people just as much for the gig where you are singing for 2,000 people.

How do you approach your career in terms of commitment, strategy, keeping your momentum, and support from others?
Again, I think that comes down to loving what I do and being excited about every show I play. I think commitment comes from having an intense passion for my craft and an energy for pushing forward that fuels me. It can get lonely on the road and there are days where I want to point my car toward home and just hide out in my house, but I have made some of my best friends traveling across the country playing my music, and so it often feels like I have these pieces of home everywhere I go. I have also learned where my strengths and weaknesses lie and that has made a huge difference in momentum and strategy for me. For example, I know I have horrible ADD and if it wer

Steff Mahan: Time is on Her Side – Grooveflash

Steff Mahan has forged a career out of more that just solid songcraft and a smooth vocal delivery, though she has both of those in spades. She has also been one of those rare artists who has never forgotten that music is, at its heart, a vehicle for relationships and two-way communication.

And it shows, with fans all across the country who turn out faithfully when she rolls into town and who consider her a friend as much as a performer they love to hear. House concerts are still a favorite venue option and Steff is perfectly suited to the intimacy and interaction that they offer. Couch surfing and long drives to reach fans in places where other artists do not deign to venture are just part of the routine. In a recent conversation, she said that she wanted to play to anyone who wanted to hear her, even if it wasn’t always the biggest money gig. It’s that internal guiding light, that desire to share the sheer joy of music with others, that has stayed her course over the many years of struggle that is the music business. It’s also been one of the traits that has made her stand out from the pack in a crowded world of music artists, both indie and major label.

At an age where most acts have given up and moved on, Mahan is cranking up to one of the high points of her career, with prestigious opening acts and double bills, a new record label, and not one, but two CDs in production with release dates scheduled before year’s end. For an artist who falls in the category of making music because she can’t not make music, this is a sweet victory moment in a long career that has included nudists, rodeos, Stephen King (who attended two of her shows and bought a CD, though he never said hello), and an amazing fanbase that just keeps growing.

You are getting ready to release a new album on the new CMG label in Nashville. How is that process going?
It is going great but I think I am still in shock. We just finished tracking the CD and I am headed into the studio in a few weeks to lay down the vocals. It is so exciting to watch these songs come to life and have the support of a label behind me, [one] that I feel really gets me as both a songwriter and an artist, it’s has been an amazing ride so far. This album is really a combination of lots of people coming together at the right time… my fans, Century Music Group, and the songs. I have some of the most incredible fans who believe in me and my music and have funded part of this project and then Century Music Group came my way and they were exactly what I was looking for and what I needed to keep doing what I love. We have been working really well together, picking the songs, figuring out the direction of the album, and I am lucky enough to benefit from two brilliant minds, Jamie Tate and Art Ward, who have a wealth of talent and knowledge in this industry.
Steff Mahan with CMG producers Jamie Tate and Art Ward

Steff Mahan with CMG producers Jamie Tate and Art Ward (yes, they are literal giants in the industry)

You’ve been in the music business for a long time now and have defied the odds by keeping a career going at an age where lots of artists have let it go or hit a brick wall. What has kept you going and what have you learned along the way?
Well, I’ve learned that wrinkle cream is a really good investment, but in all honesty, I promised myself a long time ago that when music no longer gave me joy I would quit. So far, I still love what I do and when I feel tired and want to give up, it’s odd, but that is when I most often find the people who keep me going, plus I’m really stubborn. I’ve learned that most people are really nice and want to help you. Not everyone is going to believe in your music or “get you” as a writer but you have to keep pushing through because there is someone out there who will get it and sometimes that is all you need. I have also learned that it is important to surround yourself with good, hard working people and to work hard yourself. This is a fun job, but it is hard job and you have to be willing to work hard and pull your weight and show up for the gig where you are singing to two people just as much for the gig where you are singing for 2,000 people.

How do you approach your career in terms of commitment, strategy, keeping your momentum, and support from others?
Again, I think that comes down to loving what I do and being excited about every show I play. I think commitment comes from having an intense passion for my craft and an energy for pushing forward that fuels me. It can get lonely on the road and there are days where I want to point my car toward home and just hide out in my house, but I have made some of my best friends traveling across the country playing my music, and so it often feels like I have these pieces of home everywhere I go. I have also learned where my strengths and weaknesses lie and that has made a huge difference in momentum and strategy for me. For example, I know I have horrible ADD and if it wer

Never a Long Way Home – Music News Nashville

The term “Alt-Country” has amazed me over the years. While I think the description does fit quite a bit of music with more of a pronounced rock edge, there is quite a bit of music that falls under that umbrella that would have been considered just plain “Country” not more than a few years ago.

Steff Mahan is one of those acts. Her style is very close to that of Kathy Mattea and Mary Chapin-Carpenter---Country with shades of Folk thrown in. That approach comes through almost from the beginning, on the provoking “Save Yourself.”

Other songs that will both enchant and entertain you include the restrained title cut, as well as the beautiful “Forgive Me.” She angles closer to the Folk sound on “Carnival Ride,” and hits her stride as a songwriter on “Things I Knew About You” and “Thought We Were Dancing,” which are a pair of songs that I think we will see again---possibly for other artists. The songs are that good. Any other act, however, would be hard pressed to sound quite as good as Mahan when recording them, though. She’s one to be reckoned with!

For more about Steff or to buy this CD, visit http://www.steffmahan.com/

Writing Music that Sells in a Recession – NPR, Marketplace

ai Ryssdal: Every now and again, you hear a song that really helps tell the story of the times. We've got one here that we play when the markets are up. Back when it was written, back in the Depression, "We're in the Money" was really a hope for better times.

Marketplace's Jeremy Hobson was in the capital of country music not too long ago, Nashville, Tenn., exploring how the recession and recovery are being felt and heard in the heartland.

Robin Bernard, singing: Well, I bought myself a rocking chair to see if I could lose these thin dime, hard times, hell on Church St. Blues.

Jeremy Hobson: Robin Bernard is singing me on a song about the recession outside the honky-tonks on Broadway, arguably the center of the country music world.

Bernard: Well I gave a nickel to the poor, my good turn for the day.

The problem is, besides me and one of Bernard's friends, no one is listening. And Don Cusic knows the reason why. He's a country music historian at Belmont University.

Don Cusic: You don't want any music that's gonna make somebody mad. You want music that'll sell. Now, every now and then, controversy will sell, but by and large, you're gonna play it safe.

I met with Cusic in his office the same room where Tammy Wynette's hit song, "Stand By Your Man," was written.

Cusic: You know most songs are about love: Either getting it, losing it, or keeping it.

But Cusic says since country is the music of the white working class, the struggles of that group can be found in the vast library of country music records that line the walls of his office.

Cusic: You can always look back and find a song, like you find "Okie from Muskogee," or "Stand by Your Man," the traditional values, or you've got "The Pill" with Loretta Lynn. So there are always those landmark songs, but they don't really dominate the music, but when one comes along and hits, it defines the music.

Alabama singing "40 Hour Week": There are people in this country who work hard every day...

Like this number one hit, "40 Hour Week" by the band Alabama. Released in 1985, Cusic calls it a salute to the working man in an economy that depended on manufacturers.

Alabama singing "40 Hour Week": And it's time a few of them were recognized. Hello Detroit autoworker, let me thank you for your time...

But as Cusic says, singing about politics or pocketbooks can turn listeners off. Who wants to hear a song about their day job during a night out on the town?

Karla Davis: You want me to play?

Karla Davis is wrestling with that very issue. She's a Nashville musician who likes happy songs as much as the next girl, but she thinks it's important to put her finger on the pulse of today's society, even if it doesn't sell. Her song "Here I Am" deals not just with tough economic times, but also war.

Davis, singing: Singing here I am, holdin' onto what I can. Singing on about how some can heal in me...

The risk seems to be paying off when Davis plays in small venues. She says you can hear a pin drop when she performs a song like "Here I Am" -- one that connects with people's suffering.

Karla Davis: It's giving people a message or giving them an experience that they've had before, that they can relate to.

Other musicians in Nashville prefer to take a different route. They believe now more than ever, music should cheer people up.

Steff Mahan: I think sometimes people come to my shows to escape.

Steff Mahan is writing songs in her one-story Nashville house. I asked her which of her songs best illustrates the Great Recession.

Mahan: I've got a song called "Red Dress." It's just like kids and the job got you down all week long and you seem blue. But on that red dress baby, 'cause you don't look good in blue.

Hobson: Let's hear "Red Dress." Can we do that?

Mahan: Sure.

Mahan, singing: Come on darling, pull your dress on. Let's go dancing to some honky-tonk. Kids and the job got you down all week long, you've been blue. Put on that red dress, darling, you don't look good in blue.

After our interview, Mahan pours me my first glass of moonshine, and I start to see her point. As one longtime country music producer told me, a down economy means hot sales for whiskey and happy music.

In Nashville, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

Mahan: ...Used to go cross down the lines for that redneck rock 'n roll, like we used to. Put on that red dress, darling, you don't look good in blue.

Ryssdal: Jeremy's trip through Tennessee continues this weekend on our personal finance show Marketplace Money with some people for whom the recession is just business as usual.

Writing Music that Sells in a Recession – NPR, Marketplace

ai Ryssdal: Every now and again, you hear a song that really helps tell the story of the times. We've got one here that we play when the markets are up. Back when it was written, back in the Depression, "We're in the Money" was really a hope for better times.

Marketplace's Jeremy Hobson was in the capital of country music not too long ago, Nashville, Tenn., exploring how the recession and recovery are being felt and heard in the heartland.

Robin Bernard, singing: Well, I bought myself a rocking chair to see if I could lose these thin dime, hard times, hell on Church St. Blues.

Jeremy Hobson: Robin Bernard is singing me on a song about the recession outside the honky-tonks on Broadway, arguably the center of the country music world.

Bernard: Well I gave a nickel to the poor, my good turn for the day.

The problem is, besides me and one of Bernard's friends, no one is listening. And Don Cusic knows the reason why. He's a country music historian at Belmont University.

Don Cusic: You don't want any music that's gonna make somebody mad. You want music that'll sell. Now, every now and then, controversy will sell, but by and large, you're gonna play it safe.

I met with Cusic in his office the same room where Tammy Wynette's hit song, "Stand By Your Man," was written.

Cusic: You know most songs are about love: Either getting it, losing it, or keeping it.

But Cusic says since country is the music of the white working class, the struggles of that group can be found in the vast library of country music records that line the walls of his office.

Cusic: You can always look back and find a song, like you find "Okie from Muskogee," or "Stand by Your Man," the traditional values, or you've got "The Pill" with Loretta Lynn. So there are always those landmark songs, but they don't really dominate the music, but when one comes along and hits, it defines the music.

Alabama singing "40 Hour Week": There are people in this country who work hard every day...

Like this number one hit, "40 Hour Week" by the band Alabama. Released in 1985, Cusic calls it a salute to the working man in an economy that depended on manufacturers.

Alabama singing "40 Hour Week": And it's time a few of them were recognized. Hello Detroit autoworker, let me thank you for your time...

But as Cusic says, singing about politics or pocketbooks can turn listeners off. Who wants to hear a song about their day job during a night out on the town?

Karla Davis: You want me to play?

Karla Davis is wrestling with that very issue. She's a Nashville musician who likes happy songs as much as the next girl, but she thinks it's important to put her finger on the pulse of today's society, even if it doesn't sell. Her song "Here I Am" deals not just with tough economic times, but also war.

Davis, singing: Singing here I am, holdin' onto what I can. Singing on about how some can heal in me...

The risk seems to be paying off when Davis plays in small venues. She says you can hear a pin drop when she performs a song like "Here I Am" -- one that connects with people's suffering.

Karla Davis: It's giving people a message or giving them an experience that they've had before, that they can relate to.

Other musicians in Nashville prefer to take a different route. They believe now more than ever, music should cheer people up.

Steff Mahan: I think sometimes people come to my shows to escape.

Steff Mahan is writing songs in her one-story Nashville house. I asked her which of her songs best illustrates the Great Recession.

Mahan: I've got a song called "Red Dress." It's just like kids and the job got you down all week long and you seem blue. But on that red dress baby, 'cause you don't look good in blue.

Hobson: Let's hear "Red Dress." Can we do that?

Mahan: Sure.

Mahan, singing: Come on darling, pull your dress on. Let's go dancing to some honky-tonk. Kids and the job got you down all week long, you've been blue. Put on that red dress, darling, you don't look good in blue.

After our interview, Mahan pours me my first glass of moonshine, and I start to see her point. As one longtime country music producer told me, a down economy means hot sales for whiskey and happy music.

In Nashville, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

Mahan: ...Used to go cross down the lines for that redneck rock 'n roll, like we used to. Put on that red dress, darling, you don't look good in blue.

Ryssdal: Jeremy's trip through Tennessee continues this weekend on our personal finance show Marketplace Money with some people for whom the recession is just business as usual.

On the Road Again: A Candid Chat with Steff Mahan – Out & About Newspaper

Nashville is packed to the brim with
musicians of every stripe from every single
point on the spectrum, but few of
the performers who call Nashville home
can begin to approach the level of dedication
and commitment to their art of
modern day troubadour Steff Mahan.

Steff Mahan is a Survivor – Wildy's World Review

Steff Mahan is a survivor. She's been told she can't be a recording artist/working musician. Either she's too told, too commercial, not commercial enough... all of the various reasons used to discourage an artist. Luckily the true artist never lets such admonishments get in their way. Mahan creates music for herself, but after not really starting her career until the age of 40, Mahan isn't inclined to give up on the dream. It's a good thing, too. Mahan's third album, Never A Long Way Home is her best to date. Mahan sings about aches and breaks of the heart while she puts the pieces together again and moves on down the road.

Never A Long Way Home was recorded live with little or no touch-up work. The approach is fitting for Mahan, an honest and brave step in an age where voices are airbrushed as easily as pictures. Mahan opens with "If I Let You Go", a gritty piece of country rock that's very catchy. Steff Mahan has a wonderful voice that's rough-yet-supple. "If I Let You Go" could do serious damage on the country charts. "Save Yourself" is an altruistic take on the end of a relationship. It's the first of several break-up/just broke up songs on the album. "Can't Hurt Me Anymore" is all about surviving a breakup and moving on. Mahan's backing band eschews the overly-glossed sound Nashville has spun as country music in favor of a classic sound.

"Never A Long Way Home" is a testament to the fact that life is never what we expect it will be; that our personal realities rarely stand up in the face of truth. It's a nuanced and intelligent musical exploration and is gorgeously voiced. In "Forgive Me", Mahan seeks absolution for missed chances. At first the request is of the one she missed out on, but ultimately Mahan seeks to forgive herself. The absolute highlight of the album is "Carnival Ride", a loving tribute to her father based on a childhood memory that turns into a life lesson. The melody and arrangement are beautiful; the lyrics touching without a drop of saccharine.

Mahan explores how loss can linger in "Things I Knew About You". The crux of the song isn't the immediate loss of the person, but the loss of familiarity over time with someone you once perhaps never imagined you'd be without. Mahan conveys a wonderfully world-weary sense of heartbreak conveyed not as volatile emotion but as a quiet, brooding sadness. On "Pray For Peace" Mahan explores the need for peace against the back drop of two distinct struggles: a mother watching her 4 year old suffer and finally praying for it to end, and a mother watching other mother's sons and daughters killed in wartime and praying for an end there as well. The song is heartfelt and likely to be a tearjerker if it touches close to home. "Thought We Were Dancing" is a sad-but-wry song about friendship and how it sometimes turns into love without one or both realizing it. It's a solid tune that may have been a better closer than the actual last song, "When I Need It Most". "When I Need It Most" is a plaintive plea for love and support that just doesn't have the heart of the rest of the album.

The music industry has always had a jaded perspective of age and style. The search is always for next big thing, as long as the next big thing doesn't deviate too much from the current big thing. Steff Mahan is not likely to ever get the respect she deserves from the music establishment, but the songs and performances on Never A Long Way Home certainly deserve some serious attention. It's not a perfect experience, and Mahan wouldn't have it any other way. Never A Long Way Home reflects the bumps and bruises that happen on the road of life, but in the darkness of heartache Mahan sketches out a rough sort of beauty with her words and voice. Never A Long Way Home is the sort of compelling album that will keep you coming back for more.

Steff Mahan is a Survivor – Wildy's World Review

Steff Mahan is a survivor. She's been told she can't be a recording artist/working musician. Either she's too told, too commercial, not commercial enough... all of the various reasons used to discourage an artist. Luckily the true artist never lets such admonishments get in their way. Mahan creates music for herself, but after not really starting her career until the age of 40, Mahan isn't inclined to give up on the dream. It's a good thing, too. Mahan's third album, Never A Long Way Home is her best to date. Mahan sings about aches and breaks of the heart while she puts the pieces together again and moves on down the road.

Never A Long Way Home was recorded live with little or no touch-up work. The approach is fitting for Mahan, an honest and brave step in an age where voices are airbrushed as easily as pictures. Mahan opens with "If I Let You Go", a gritty piece of country rock that's very catchy. Steff Mahan has a wonderful voice that's rough-yet-supple. "If I Let You Go" could do serious damage on the country charts. "Save Yourself" is an altruistic take on the end of a relationship. It's the first of several break-up/just broke up songs on the album. "Can't Hurt Me Anymore" is all about surviving a breakup and moving on. Mahan's backing band eschews the overly-glossed sound Nashville has spun as country music in favor of a classic sound.

"Never A Long Way Home" is a testament to the fact that life is never what we expect it will be; that our personal realities rarely stand up in the face of truth. It's a nuanced and intelligent musical exploration and is gorgeously voiced. In "Forgive Me", Mahan seeks absolution for missed chances. At first the request is of the one she missed out on, but ultimately Mahan seeks to forgive herself. The absolute highlight of the album is "Carnival Ride", a loving tribute to her father based on a childhood memory that turns into a life lesson. The melody and arrangement are beautiful; the lyrics touching without a drop of saccharine.

Mahan explores how loss can linger in "Things I Knew About You". The crux of the song isn't the immediate loss of the person, but the loss of familiarity over time with someone you once perhaps never imagined you'd be without. Mahan conveys a wonderfully world-weary sense of heartbreak conveyed not as volatile emotion but as a quiet, brooding sadness. On "Pray For Peace" Mahan explores the need for peace against the back drop of two distinct struggles: a mother watching her 4 year old suffer and finally praying for it to end, and a mother watching other mother's sons and daughters killed in wartime and praying for an end there as well. The song is heartfelt and likely to be a tearjerker if it touches close to home. "Thought We Were Dancing" is a sad-but-wry song about friendship and how it sometimes turns into love without one or both realizing it. It's a solid tune that may have been a better closer than the actual last song, "When I Need It Most". "When I Need It Most" is a plaintive plea for love and support that just doesn't have the heart of the rest of the album.

The music industry has always had a jaded perspective of age and style. The search is always for next big thing, as long as the next big thing doesn't deviate too much from the current big thing. Steff Mahan is not likely to ever get the respect she deserves from the music establishment, but the songs and performances on Never A Long Way Home certainly deserve some serious attention. It's not a perfect experience, and Mahan wouldn't have it any other way. Never A Long Way Home reflects the bumps and bruises that happen on the road of life, but in the darkness of heartache Mahan sketches out a rough sort of beauty with her words and voice. Never A Long Way Home is the sort of compelling album that will keep you coming back for more.

An artist that defied the odds... – Melodic.net

Steff Mahan is the artist that defied the odds and launched her career in her 40's Melodic.net had some questions about that, and some other things. Take a look at what She said.


Hello, and Welcome to Melodic.net. How are you?

Hi there. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this with me.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Gosh…where do I start…you know, I've always wanted to do what I'm doing…write songs and go find people who would listen to me play. While I have had other jobs…(I was actually pretty successful at Advertising) I can't remember really ever wanting to do anything but be a singer/songwriter…since the first time I saw Bobbie Gentry sing "Ode to Billie Joe." After that I was hooked. I was about four years old and my momma said I turned around with these big wide eyes and said "Oh momma I want to do that!" It was probably a few months after that when I got my first guitar, a Harmony that was bigger than me. And in case you were wondering, yep…I still got her.

How would you describe your music?

That's always a hard question to answer. I know everyone thinks they are original but the truth is I'm not really that "original." I just like a lot of different kinds of music. I play in Texas and they think I play that devil rock-n-roll and then I play in New York and they think I'm as country as corn bread. I don't know if it's good or bad that I'm hard to define. I do get a lot people saying "I don't usually like country…or I don't usually like Blues…or I don't usually like folk or rock….but I like you and your music." I think what is original about me is the way I tell a story that hopefully hits home no matter what beat you put on it.

What can you tell us about your latest album, Never a Long Way Home?

I was always told that your first record is your best record because you spend your whole life researching it and living it and writing it. But I really think this 3rd record is my best. We recorded it live over two days in a great little studio in Nashville with an amazing band and too many laughs to count. What I love about the album is that it is raw and honest and every song on it I wrote while on a very long journey back to myself. For me this album is about that journey. It is about how you can travel all over the country or all over the world looking for yourself and for something that feels like home when suddenly you find that home has been with you the entire time. It is that place inside of you that feels safe and happy or having the people you love around you or taking your dog for a walk early in the morning.

Who are your main influences?

When I was very young Bobbie Gentry of course…and I always would watch the Grand Ole' Opry with my mom and daddy. As I got older and was developing my own musical taste I would listen to a lot of pop and a lot of rock-n-roll. I have never enjoyed really hard music like Black

Sabbath, or Alice Cooper or Iggy Pop. I respect them all as musicians but their music has always scared me…like seriously scared me! I have always LOVED LOVED LOVED Fleetwood Mac! I can't count the number of times I have seen Stevie Nicks in concert. I have always gravitated toward any band, songwriter, or singer who has a great melody….catchy or beautiful….I just love a good melody. And I don't think I've ever confessed this before but I would watch re-runs of Lassie just to hear the theme song. The theme song was "Greensleeves" and I'm not sure if it was the melody of that song or the cute little dog sitting on top of the hill waiting for Timmy to get out of the well but it never failed that I would get teary eyed. Now days I'm a hard ass and nothing makes me cry….you believe me, right?

You launched your music career at the age of 40, how come you waited that long?

Well, I was actually younger than 40 when I moved to Nashville to write songs but yes, my first album came out after I turned 40. I was about 28 when I received an offer for a writer's deal and I quit advertising in Memphis and moved to Music City. That deal lasted about a year and then the publishing company went under. I continued to play and write and had a few cuts on some independent artists. One day when I was about 35 I looked at my 4O1K and realized I didn't have one, got scared about old age, and decided to go get a full time job. I tried to find something that made me as happy as writing and singing but I never did. I swear I tried, but everyday I just felt like I was cheating God or whoever out of the gift he/she gave me. I'm not very religious but I do think there is something bigger than me helping me on this path toward what's meant to be and if I vary too much off that path I feel it. In the grand scheme of things, writing songs and singing my music is what feels right to me. Being a singer/songwriter is not just what I do, it feels like who I am. And at the age of 40 I was very lucky to have had a person in my life who helped me make that first album an

Steff Mahan has a gift for writing songs... – Colorado Springs Independent



Without resorting to artifice or clichés, Steff Mahan has a gift for writing songs that sneak up on you and, before you know it, get you all teary-eyed. And the stories behind them might just do the same.

"The first two records were really about a broken heart, and then with the third record, I went through a really bad way of life for a while," says Mahan, who'd wondered if she'd even make a third record. "I went through a bad breakup — I was with the same person for 17 years — and I also lost my best friend. So the third record, I think, is about a broken life, and trying to find my way back to who I am and who I was raised to be by my mama and daddy."

Which, based on Mahan's songs and stories, is a highly sensitive and intelligent person. Raised in small-town Illinois and now living in Nashville, her songs have been recorded by major country artists like Patty Loveless and Tim McGraw, but have yet to make it to their finished albums.

Still, it's all just a matter of time. And in the meantime, the singer-songwriter's albums prove that she has no problem getting her own songs across beautifully.

The way we were

One of Mahan's most powerful song is "I Tend to Lose Things," which was written in honor of an elderly neighbor who became like family to her after she moved to one of the poorest parts of Nashville. Louise turned out to be a 30-year recluse whose late husband had marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis.

Intent on celebrating Louise's birthday, Mahan was surprised to learn that her friend didn't know when it was.

"I'm like, 'How can you not know when your birthday is?' And she said, 'Baby girl, when I was born, they just didn't care about another little black baby being born.' And she just said it so matter of fact, she wasn't mad or sad or angry, that's just how it was. And I was so angry for her."

During one of her daily visits, Louise handed Mahan the sunglasses her husband had worn during that historic march. "I folded them up and I gave them back. I said, 'Louise, thank you, but I cannot take these.' And she got teary-eyed, she looked at me and she said, 'Baby girl' — she was always calling me baby girl — 'you're the only family I got. You have to have these, you got to wear them proud.' And so I wore them about three years, and I lost them about three weeks after I lost Louise."

Home truths

Mahan has written songs about her parents that are no less moving. In "Carnival Ride," from her new album, Never a Long Way Home, she recalls how, one summer when she was 5, she'd wanted to see the carnival that was coming to town. Her father was on strike at the time, which meant they couldn't afford to go. Instead, she remembers him putting her on top of his shoulders and running through the back yard and it ended up being one of the best summers ever.

Mahan says she wrote the song after her parents moved out of the house that she'd grown up in and all their friends had gathered for a farewell party.

"After everyone left, it was about nine o'clock and I stood in my backyard and just started crying, because I was never going to see this house again, this was not my home anymore after all those years of living there."

Big boobs, big hair

When Mahan's not out on the road performing, she often does songwriting sessions with other artists back home in Nashville: "I just love writing with writers that are actually writers," she says. "But nowadays, all the artists are wanting to write. It was so weird, because this one girl came in — I won't mention any names — but she was picking up a writing session with me. And the girl did not bring a piece of paper, a pencil, a pen, a notebook, a guitar, an idea — she brought nothing. Except her big boobs and that was it. She couldn't even really sing."

But don't all artists who can't sing go to Los Angeles?

"Oh trust me," says Mahan, "you can succeed in Nashville fine if you don't sing. We have the same equipment they have in L.A., just bigger boobs and bigger hair."

Especially hair.

"The bigger the hair, the closer to God," she says. "We do live in the Bible Belt."

Mahan's other extracurricular activities include an Etsy site where she sells her photographs of heart-shaped rocks. Once you start noticing them, she says, you find them all over. She figures she has about a thousand of them now, and has more recently begun finding rocks shaped like four leaf clovers.

So which does Mahan trust more, the hearts or the clovers?

"Neither," she says with a laugh. "I mean, the clovers haven't done me much good. But the truth is, I do have a good life. I'm not rich, I'm not famous, but I do what I love. And that's more than most people can say."

— bill@csindy.com

Steff Mahan has a gift for writing songs... – Colorado Springs Independent



Without resorting to artifice or clichés, Steff Mahan has a gift for writing songs that sneak up on you and, before you know it, get you all teary-eyed. And the stories behind them might just do the same.

"The first two records were really about a broken heart, and then with the third record, I went through a really bad way of life for a while," says Mahan, who'd wondered if she'd even make a third record. "I went through a bad breakup — I was with the same person for 17 years — and I also lost my best friend. So the third record, I think, is about a broken life, and trying to find my way back to who I am and who I was raised to be by my mama and daddy."

Which, based on Mahan's songs and stories, is a highly sensitive and intelligent person. Raised in small-town Illinois and now living in Nashville, her songs have been recorded by major country artists like Patty Loveless and Tim McGraw, but have yet to make it to their finished albums.

Still, it's all just a matter of time. And in the meantime, the singer-songwriter's albums prove that she has no problem getting her own songs across beautifully.

The way we were

One of Mahan's most powerful song is "I Tend to Lose Things," which was written in honor of an elderly neighbor who became like family to her after she moved to one of the poorest parts of Nashville. Louise turned out to be a 30-year recluse whose late husband had marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis.

Intent on celebrating Louise's birthday, Mahan was surprised to learn that her friend didn't know when it was.

"I'm like, 'How can you not know when your birthday is?' And she said, 'Baby girl, when I was born, they just didn't care about another little black baby being born.' And she just said it so matter of fact, she wasn't mad or sad or angry, that's just how it was. And I was so angry for her."

During one of her daily visits, Louise handed Mahan the sunglasses her husband had worn during that historic march. "I folded them up and I gave them back. I said, 'Louise, thank you, but I cannot take these.' And she got teary-eyed, she looked at me and she said, 'Baby girl' — she was always calling me baby girl — 'you're the only family I got. You have to have these, you got to wear them proud.' And so I wore them about three years, and I lost them about three weeks after I lost Louise."

Home truths

Mahan has written songs about her parents that are no less moving. In "Carnival Ride," from her new album, Never a Long Way Home, she recalls how, one summer when she was 5, she'd wanted to see the carnival that was coming to town. Her father was on strike at the time, which meant they couldn't afford to go. Instead, she remembers him putting her on top of his shoulders and running through the back yard and it ended up being one of the best summers ever.

Mahan says she wrote the song after her parents moved out of the house that she'd grown up in and all their friends had gathered for a farewell party.

"After everyone left, it was about nine o'clock and I stood in my backyard and just started crying, because I was never going to see this house again, this was not my home anymore after all those years of living there."

Big boobs, big hair

When Mahan's not out on the road performing, she often does songwriting sessions with other artists back home in Nashville: "I just love writing with writers that are actually writers," she says. "But nowadays, all the artists are wanting to write. It was so weird, because this one girl came in — I won't mention any names — but she was picking up a writing session with me. And the girl did not bring a piece of paper, a pencil, a pen, a notebook, a guitar, an idea — she brought nothing. Except her big boobs and that was it. She couldn't even really sing."

But don't all artists who can't sing go to Los Angeles?

"Oh trust me," says Mahan, "you can succeed in Nashville fine if you don't sing. We have the same equipment they have in L.A., just bigger boobs and bigger hair."

Especially hair.

"The bigger the hair, the closer to God," she says. "We do live in the Bible Belt."

Mahan's other extracurricular activities include an Etsy site where she sells her photographs of heart-shaped rocks. Once you start noticing them, she says, you find them all over. She figures she has about a thousand of them now, and has more recently begun finding rocks shaped like four leaf clovers.

So which does Mahan trust more, the hearts or the clovers?

"Neither," she says with a laugh. "I mean, the clovers haven't done me much good. But the truth is, I do have a good life. I'm not rich, I'm not famous, but I do what I love. And that's more than most people can say."

— bill@csindy.com

"Never a Long Way Home" – Music News Nashville

The term “Alt-Country” has amazed me over the years. While I think the description does fit quite a bit of music with more of a pronounced rock edge, there is quite a bit of music that falls under that umbrella that would have been considered just plain “Country” not more than a few years ago.

Steff Mahan is one of those acts. Her style is very close to that of Kathy Mattea and Mary Chapin-Carpenter---Country with shades of Folk thrown in. That approach comes through almost from the beginning, on the provoking “Save Yourself.”

Other songs that will both enchant and entertain you include the restrained title cut, as well as the beautiful “Forgive Me.” She angles closer to the Folk sound on “Carnival Ride,” and hits her stride as a songwriter on “Things I Knew About You” and “Thought We Were Dancing,” which are a pair of songs that I think we will see again---possibly for other artists. The songs are that good. Any other act, however, would be hard pressed to sound quite as good as Mahan when recording them, though. She’s one to be reckoned with!

For more about Steff or to buy this CD, visit http://www.steffmahan.com/

Steff Mahan – Sirus Satellite Radio

"you'll soon be hearing the name Steff Mahan" - New York DJ Jim Kerr during an interview and performance on Sirius Satellite Radio....

Steff Mahan – Sirus Satellite Radio

"you'll soon be hearing the name Steff Mahan" - New York DJ Jim Kerr during an interview and performance on Sirius Satellite Radio....

Outstanding Live Show – Borders- Kansas City

"The guitar prowess of Sheryl Crow; the voice, a cross of Stevie Nicks and Emmylou Harris; the songwriting of Joni Mitchell. That's Steff Mahan. . . . I've scheduled and heard live acts in our cafe for 3 years and I've seen no one as polished as Steff Mahan. An amazing talent and outstanding live show." - Steve Craft, Manager, Borders Kansas City - Northland.....

Outstanding Live Show – Borders- Kansas City

"The guitar prowess of Sheryl Crow; the voice, a cross of Stevie Nicks and Emmylou Harris; the songwriting of Joni Mitchell. That's Steff Mahan. . . . I've scheduled and heard live acts in our cafe for 3 years and I've seen no one as polished as Steff Mahan. An amazing talent and outstanding live show." - Steve Craft, Manager, Borders Kansas City - Northland.....

Bill Board – BillBoard Magazine

"an entertaining cant-miss performance" - Billboard Magazine.....

Bill Board – BillBoard Magazine

"an entertaining cant-miss performance" - Billboard Magazine.....

100 Women We Love – GO Magazine

STEFF MAHAN


It isn´t always easy being an openly gay singer-songwriter in the country/folk vein, especially in Nashville, but Steff Mahan wouldn´t have it any other way. Years ago, she left a high-paying job as an advertising executive to become a songwriter at $150 per week. Playing her honest and soulful brand of Americana in Nashville clubs eventually earned her attention from a record label, but there was a hitch. "I wanted to be successful so badly, I led them to believe I was someone I wasn´t. I realized if I had to play straight to be successful in the music business, I would be miserable," Mahan says. She told the label as much, and they dropped the deal-but Mahan had proven something to herself. "I believe being myself and standing side-by-side through bad and good with that one person who will always love you is true success." Mahan plays more than 200 live shows a year in support of her most recent album, Where I´m Coming From. It´s an exhausting but exhilarating way to earn a living. "There may always be times when I wonder why I chose this path, but I also know that I would not totally be happy unless I was playing and writing. It´s not just what I do, it´s who I am." -KL