Artist Spotlight: Steve Everett
Described as “Pop ‘N’ Roll” on his website, Steve Everett breathes an optimistic outlook on life into his original music with upbeat melodies that highlight his Southern roots in a way that’s both inviting and invigorating.
“I’m still like a southern dude and I drink bourbon, so that comes out a little bit in my music,” said Steve on his characteristic style.
Steve studied at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina where he honed his skills in performance art. Since, he has played on tour with well-known artists such as Sister Hazel and Michael Tolcher. His two most recent albums have been nominated for Album Of The Year at The 12th and 15th annual Independent Music Awards at the Lincoln Center in New York City.
Steve Everett blends acoustic guitar with catchy hooks that are clever and thought-provoking. His attitude is inviting, cheery, sincere and indicative of his long experience as a performer.
Many artists fashion their music to reflect the culmination of struggles and experiences they have undergone over the course of their lives. Steve is no exception, and his songwriting process shows a variety of inspirations and influences in his two albums and multiple EPs. Born in Georgia, raised in North Carolina, and with tours throughout the country, where Steve has been has had a meaningful impact on where his songwriting is today.
“My dad used to sing opera in New York and San Francisco. When I was born, he was a church choir director, so music with him was always in youth choirs and musicals. […] Once I got to school, I was just always in band, choir and drama. I was pretty much immediately put into the music scene.”
“I think most men who end up in the family business kind of buck against it. You grow up listening to your dad until you’re old enough to know it’s a good idea. So, I just kind of stole what little bits I could without asking for direct coaching. He knew a lot, so I knew I could pick his brain. I’m sure I owe a lot more to him than I think I do, but I never really took direct lessons or anything. He just kind of pointed me in the right direction. I started playing guitar when I was ten and he never played himself, so it was kind of a way to get into music without having to do exactly what he did.”
Everett’s music is a testament to his own unique personality and desire to make a way for himself while incorporating powerful influences from his childhood. Both in his own work as well as when crafting songs for Songfinch, his vast experience and background working with various genres are apparent within his catchy choruses and uplifting messages.
Although he soaked up lessons from the music and people around him, Everett was largely self-taught when it came to the guitar and he became invested in his musical development at a young age.
“I never did take lessons. I just got a guitar at a garage sale and then bought an old chord book and just kind of started listening to the radio, CDs and tapes that I had. By the time I got to middle school, I could do little chord charts and stuff like that so I could play songs and went from there.”
When describing his own recent string of successes and his unique songwriting style, Everett explains what closely resembles a “trial and error” method of composition. His approach to music is lighthearted and peppered with a humor that is truly contagious. He even offered some advice for others who have an interest in songwriting who may have struggled out the gate.
“Well just do what I did and write like 100 really bad songs. And then eventually there’s one in the clip and you write a good one [laughs].”
“I think when you first start songwriting, the songs are very long and you have maybe three verses to every song. You want to put as much as you can in there. And they’re cool, but they’re just not polished. You just sort of get better at matching words to melodies to make them the most effective they can be. And then also matching melodies to chord progressions and soundscapes. You’re just like constantly trimming the fat, trying to end up with a polished diamond instead of a big ol’ piece of coal.”
Everett employs this method when writing original songs for people to share as unique gifts with Songfinch. He is able to identify and connect with his audience so intimately because of his empathetic nature, and he pours the same emotions into their songs as he does his own.
“As a personality type, songwriters are tormented people. We’re people who see and observe humanity, so we kind of eat other people’s pain and other people’s happiness.”
“When you spend most of your time thinking about that or writing about it, the more you look in depth at the things that kind of get overlooked, the better you are when somebody asks you something like, ‘Can you write a song for my wife’s birthday? She has a bakery, and does this..’ When you have spent so many years looking around and paying attention to those experiences you can remember somebody who fits that exact same situation. Or it just becomes a lot easier to put yourself into the shoes of someone else when you’re already that type of person.”