Ty Stephens (& Romantasy)
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Ty Stephens (& Romantasy)

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


"Live Review from Soul Patrol"

When I write reviews, I try to be conscious of seeming "over-laudatory;"but I can tell you right now, it's going to be hard in this case.

Last Tuesday night at Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson's Sugar Bar in New York, I witnessed a masterful performance by Ty Stephens, as he performed a "Tribute to Donny Hathaway. Throughout the 13-song, 1-hour-plus set Stephens held court, truly invoking the spirit-and damned-near the actual voice-of Donny Hathaway. Several times I closed my eyes and, if I didn't know any better, I'd swear it was Donny.

This is not to say that Stephens does not have his own voice-far from it. As a matter of fact, I'm going to make it a point to see Stephens outside of a "tribute setting:" I found his voice and his stage presence
to be excellent!

Stephens' song selection was very even and wove together very fluidly. He interspersed the songs with dialogue, giving us Hathaway's biography. This was done very tastefully, to the backdrop of Donny's monster hit, "The Ghetto." I truly appreciated the sensitivity-yet, the candidness-in
which Stephens related the circumstances surrounding Donny's tragic death in 1979.

Stephen's concentrated on Hathaway's output up to 1973's "Extensions of a Man" (in my opinion Donny's finest album), including selections not only from the solo albums, but also from the early duets with Roberta Flack. Those duets, by the way, provided some of the highlights of the night. Branice McKenzie was superb in providing the female counterpart to Stephens, as they really tore it up on three duets, "Where Is The Love," the rarely-heard "Be Real Black For Me," and a wonderful reading
of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling."

From "Flying High" and "Little Ghetto Boy" up to "I Love You More Than You Ever Know" (ironically, the Blood, Sweat, and Tears original featured Val Simpson, along with Melba Moore, on background vocals), "Someday We'll All Be Free," and "For All We Know," Stephens sang with a
command that gave the listener the assuredness that there was an intimate knowledge of the music and his subject on the singer's part.Donny's material is often very spiritual-sounding; yet Donny rarely
resorted to the "shouting histrionics" so prevalent in many singers, preferring to stay on a certain "smooth" level. The fact that Stephens stayed true to Donny's style and spirit and stayed away from of vocal gymnastics showed me something, and it was good.

Providing Stephens with top-shelf musicianship all night long was Dan Carillo on guitar, Brian Grice on drums, Gary Potts on bass, Neil Clarke on percussion, and Richard Cummings, Jr. on keyboards. These guys really shone, as they executed-perfectly-music that called for shifting meters,
well-timed accents, and had to be powerful enough to match Stephens' intensity, yet mellow enough to recall Hathaway's musical flow and feel as well as match the intimacy of the Sugar Bar.

Hey, we had all had a good time at this one! And I (also on behalf of my wife) would like to thank, once again, Devie "Unific29" Boone, Mike "The Chancellor" Boone, Luis Bernard, and our beloved Soul Patrol coordinator, the one and only Ms. Cheryl Page, for allowing me to share it with them!!!
- Charles


"Philadelphia Tribune"

Singer Fulfills 'Fantasy' on CD

Kimberly C. Roberts - Philadelphia Tribune Entertainment Writer

"Deeper In Fantasy" is the second album by the multi-talented Philadelphia native Ty Stephens. The follow-up to his inspiring debut "Musichameleon," this well crafted 11-track disc, produced by Stephens and Joe Scott, features Stephens' insightful compositions, highlighted throughout by bold vocal and instrumental arrangements. ^

He lends his jazz-influenced baritone, with its haunting gospel overtones to "Somethin' Strange"'-a tantalizing cha-cha that beats with the mesmerizing pulse of a metronome, and literally seduces you on to the dance floor. "Daydream" features Stephens' clever lyrics, posing the provocative question, "Are you Adam? Are you Eve? If I bite your apple, will you slither up my sleeve?" "(I'm Just) Here to Be Loved" showcases the considerable talent of his first-rate instrumental ensemble, Romantasy.

Ty Stephens, also an accomplished professional dancer, is one of the rare artists who can parlay his stellar efforts in the recording studio into an electrifying live performance, but for all of his talent, versatility and creative fire, he remains one of the best kept secrets in the industry. Hopefully that will c'ange for the better with the musically satisfying "Deeper in Fantasy. - Kimberly C. Roberts


Discography

NEW LIVE CD COMING SOON! Current Listing: "DEEPER IN FANTASY" (Musichameleon Ent. 2000); "MUSICHAMELEON" (Musichameleon Ent. 1996); Featured on: "BLURRY" with the group UMBRELLA (Vivid Records 1995) as vocalist/songwriter and "CONNECTION" with Jazz Artists/Producers Radam Schwartz and Leslie Ford (Connect 1 Records 1988). Radio Airplay listing and featured selections available @ WWW.TYSTEPHENS.COM. Please visit for more detailed info!

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

TY STEPHENS is the consummate performer! He has shared the stage and recorded with such varied notables as HARRY BELAFONTE; PHYLLIS HYMAN; GREGORY HINES; The COMMODORES; EARTHA KITT; ALYSON WILLIAMS;CHERYL "PEPSII" RILEY; SMOKEY ROBINSON; PATTI AUSTIN; JEFFREY OSBORNE; TOSHI KUBOTA; BABA OLATUNJI; NILE RODGERS; LALA BROOKS (of The Crystals), and, even, WHOOPI GOLDBERG, to name a few!




Born January 29th (a proud Aquarian!), and hailing from Philadelphia, Pa. (the same hometown and high school as the famous Will Smith), Ty started in the Fine Arts as a Painter, but put it aside to enter Show Business as a Dancer, trained in Jazz/Modern/ African/Ballet, and some Tap; studied at THE ALVIN AILEY SCHOOL; toured with the ROD RODGERS DANCE CO. and various Revue Shows, and made the transition to Vocalist while on Broadway in the Original Company of "SOPHISTICATED LADIES". He continued in theatre on Broadway in "MARILYN, AN AMERICAN FABLE" and in Europe in "THE HARLEM STORY", while honing his singing and songwriting craft in local New York clubs and piano bars.

Ty has numerous TV and Radio commercials, including MARS BARS; AT&T, K-MART; McDONALD'S; BURGER KING and CHRYSLER, to name but a few. He has also co-written, starred-in, choreographed and costumed for such Off-Off Broadway productions as "SHADES OF HARLEM" and "FROM MY HOMETOWN", among others, and he is currently putting the finishing touches on his play, "HAPPILY EVER...!"

MUSICAL INFLUENCES: Ty draws his inspiration from his heroes- the "classics": Stevie Wonder; Donny Hathaway; Chaka Khan; Al Jarreau; James Taylor; Joni Mitchell, as well as Brazilian composers such as Djavan; Caetano Veloso; Ivan Lins and Gilberto Gil, but the style and talent is uniquely TY STEPHENS! "I find that I love music that is provocative, but not assaulting. I like music that takes you somewhere, makes you feel something deep or profound. It should connect you to your humanness, your beauty, your spirit and challenge you to think and grow".... "I find that I write to suit my own taste in music, so it's heavily influenced by the artists I enjoy listening to. So, if Stevie doesn't have a new recording out, I'll find myself writing in his style, or Chaka's or Al Jarreau's... .but, it's still my own style mixed in, so it doesn't sound like a cheap copy of someone else's music, it's still original."

WHO'S GOT "CHOPS": "I'm really digging India Arie, Donnie, John Mayer, Rashaan Patterson; Rachelle Ferrell; Mica Paris; D'Angelo; Erykah Badu; Carl Thomas; Kelly Price; Faith Evans; Eric Benet, and, quite a few young jazz cats, too, if they get a stronghold on the music market, the future of African-American music is in good hands, in my opinion."

TY STEPHENS & ROMANTASY has been presented in concert and command performance for such dignitaries as His Majesty KING HASSAN II of MOROCCO; The Crown Prince MUHAMMED and Prince RASHIID of MOROCCO; The Honorable First Lady Mrs. SALLY MUGABE of ZIMBABWE, and Mr. BRONSON McKINLEY the American Ambassador to HAITI, and in such special events as New York's ECOFEST; BLACK EXPO and The ACAPULCO BLACK FILM FESTIVAL GALA.

The members of ROMANTASY have performed and recorded with such artists as ROBERTA FLACK; DIANNE REEVES; STANLEY TURRENTINE; ANGIE STONE; HUGH MASAKELA; ME'SHELL NDEGEOCELLO, NINA SIMONE; NOEL POINTER and NATALIE COLE, among others.

Co-Producer JOE SCOTT has toured and recorded with LAURYN HILL; CHICO DeBARGE; HAMMER; BOYZ II MEN and BLACKSTREET, among others.