Genre: Singer-Songwriter, Jazz, Blues, Alternative
Location: London, England
Discography: Leave your Heart at the Door EP (2014) Alive EP (2015)
Record Label: Loop the Loop Records
Stephanie O'Brien is another of our favourite singer-songwriters. She has a rich and gorgeous voice that can literally silence a room. As well as playing guitar, piano and violin, she is also a great harmony vocalist after spending eight years as one of the founding members of the 'Puppini Sisters'. Now a very popular independent solo performer, Stephanie is 'making waves' on the London music scene.
Stephanie was born and raised in London, England. Like most children she grew up listening to whatever music was being played at home. Luckily, her parents had a great vinyl record collection, which over time proved to have a lasting influence on Stephanie’s musical tastes. Many of those early influences have stayed with her, Carole King, Dusty Springfield (aka Mary O’Brien, no relation) The Supremes and Aretha Franklin to name just a few.
As a child, Stephanie learnt to play a number of musical instruments including the violin, piano and harp. However it was in her first year of high school that a teacher discovered that Stephanie had a rich singing voice and gave her a part in the annual school musical. Encouraged by this experience, Stephanie began taking singing seriously, in her teens she developed a taste for Jazz and immersed herself in the music of all the Jazz greats, Sarah Vaughan, Chet Baker and Ella Fitzgerald. She would go on to perform locally in a number of Jazz bands and it was this love of singing Jazz that eventually took her to Trinity College of Music in London.
At college Stephanie hooked up with two friends to form the close harmony singing trio, The Puppini Sisters. Almost immediately the girls were signed to a major label, Universal Music, college was ditched and from there followed great success. Album releases and tours of Europe and the US as well as numerous television appearances followed. In Christmas 2011, they recorded a duet with Michael Buble, “Jingle Bells” for his “Christmas” album and they performed with him on his NBC TV Christmas Special. The same Christmas they also appeared on a BBC TV special alongside Richard Hawley, Gregory Porter and the legendary Carole King, which was a dream come true for Stephanie.
After eight years of having an absolute blast with the Puppini Sisters, Stephanie made the difficult decision to leave the group in order to develop her own songwriting and to forge her own sound. After much toil, soul searching, experimenting with other musicians and getting back to basics, Stephanie has now found a new musical direction to follow.
This new direction came about completely by accident from the series of gigs she played in November 2012. After completing the set at one of these gigs there were calls for an encore. Unprepared, and her band having already played all the songs they knew, in a totally spur of the moment action, Stephanie picked up the guitar, stepped back on stage and performed a sublime version of the Sandie Shaw classic “There’s Always Something There To Remind Me”. It was a million miles away from Sandie’s arrangement as Stephanie slowed the song right down and sang it in such a heartfelt way that the song took on a new meaning. She totally made the song her own and as she sang, the once noisy bar descended into complete silence. This was a jaw dropping performance and the audience response was incredible, they absolutely loved it.
It was the response at the end of that song that really changed things and got Stephanie thinking about how she could develop this further. The logistics of trying to organise, rehearse and gig with a group of musicians who all have conflicting schedules and live miles away was proving to be very difficult. So, in a move that has taken Stephanie completely out of her comfort zone she has decided to go it alone without the safety net of a band.
This allows a lot of flexibility and Stephanie can connect directly with her audience, which has shown us a new kind of artist emerging. With a wealth of newly penned material behind her, her live show features a more stripped down sound with just a guitar and loop station on stage. This allows Stephanie to augment her sound by adding layers of vocal harmonies and gives her a palette of musical options, quite literally, at her feet.
After spending the first few months of the year writing new songs, Stephanie was ready to hone and refine her work on stage. In a move that has seen her go right back to basics, she’s been performing in small bars and clubs around London to road test the new songs and see if she really could embody this new way of going out completely solo, as a one woman band. The answer has arrived at a definitive yes, as her performances have had a great response amongst the many diverse audiences she has played to so far. Stephanie is now showing us the kind of multi-‐faceted artist she is, as her journey in music begins its newest, most exciting chapter yet.
Stephanie is currently working on new material and has plans to release it in 2017.