A wonderful article about an amazing young woman appeared in The Cincinnati Enquirer on March 14. Her mother refers to "the village" of supporters she has had. Three of them are organizations to which the Dater Foundation has made regular grants -- Chatfield College, Elementz, and the Music Resource Center.
1st album to drop on 17th birthday
Jazz artist’s talent recognized early
By Mark Curnutte
Cincinnati Enquirer USA TODAY NETWORK … March 14, 2019
A 17th birthday party comes once. When it coincides with the release of your first recording, it’s an extra special day.
A community of people will gather Thursday night at a performing arts center in Over-the-Rhine for a combination album honoring Adanya Lin Stephens, a junior at the School for Creative and Performing Arts.
She’s not the typical talented teenager.
Adanya, who will graduate high school a year early, already has a full scholarship awaiting her at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in jazz composition. Wherever she decides to go – the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music is her first choice, depending on financial aid – she will begin with 18 credit hours she earned over the past three semesters at Chatfield College in Over-the-Rhine.
The support system around her is anything but typical, too. Adanya is the first to recognize it.
“To begin with, I have two parents who both work two jobs, 12 hours a day,” she said while sitting behind a piano in the living room of her mother’s Bond Hill apartment.
Sitting a few feet away on the couch, Nicole Stephens rattled off a list of “the village. … My parents. My ex-husband, her very supportive father – we both love music; she was brought up in it – teachers, the people at Elementz, people across the city, family, friends here, friends from Detroit, the middle-school youth group at Crossroads (church).”
Elementz is a performing and visual arts and cultural center for youths that’s described as a pace where “street art meets street smart.” It’s there, at 1640 Race St., where Adanya will perform her original spoken-word poetry and perform music from her album, “Naive Nostalgia,” as part of her jazz quartet. The free show will begin at 7 p.m.
It’s at Elementz where six years ago Adanya met Nick Rose, a volunteer instructor and guitarist who became part of the creative community that nurtured her talent.
“Adanya is a hurricane of creativity,” said Rose, 27, who will play in the quartet at the album release show and who helped her record Adanya’s music at Music Resource Center-Cincinnati in Walnut Hills.
“The thing about Adanya is she’s just relentless,” Rose said. “She’s always seeking more. Most musicians her age, even the most talented ones, are more concerned about playing the notes correctly. She’s already concerned with the story element of the music and how it feels to her and the listener.”
At age 14, Adanya wrote the seven original songs of the nine tracks on “Naive Nostalgia.”
She said her music is a mix of jazz, vocal and guitar and pop-rock. Adanya inherited her love of jazz from her grandparents, William and Linda Gillispie. She’d visit their home in Dayton, Ohio, and listen to her grandfather’s collection of vinyl jazz records.
She started playing piano at 6 and writing her own songs about five years ago, about the same time she started writing poetry, which she has collected in a self-published book titled “The Heart on My Sleeve.” She has performed the poem “Dear Black People” live several times.
A piano is in the corner of her mother’s apartment. There’s a donated baby grand piano in the basement of her father’s house in Finneytown. She plays and practices a minimum of two hours, 15 minutes a day. She has to take a keyboard on vacation. She won’t go a day without placing her slim fingers on the keys.
“Once she got her hands on a keyboard, it was over,” said her father, Walter Stephens.
She has performed with her own band, a project she refers to as Quiet Sounds of Qualia, since she was 14. She performs SCPA jazz and classical recitals three times a year, each. She’s made nine college tours the past two years and auditioned at five, including at Arizona State University in Tempe.
“Music and my goals in music have not taken anything away from me,” Adanya said. “If I didn’t have this, I would be empty, I would be lost.”
Photo below is Adanya Lin Stephens performing at the Music Resource Center. Click once on photo to enlarge.