Ryan Stevenson feature
It might have taken more time than Ryan Stevenson wanted, but the journey has been well worth it. Now that the songwriter’s smart, snappy pop settled into the perfect home with Gotee Records, Stevenson can appreciate the lessons learned and enjoy the success at a much deeper level.
After years of trying to make it in the music industry and watching friends like Paul Wright and Mat Kearney earn record deals, Stevenson plied his trade locally in the Pacific Northwest while working as a paramedic among other things for several years. A last ditch effort at a battle of the bands led to a victory that earned him studio time. The rest can be heard on his new EP Holding Nothing Back.
“I was just going along doing my thing for several years and was just about to give up,” says Stevenson. “I was going to hang up the cleats. Then all of a sudden, all these things started happening, and all these connections I’d had for years just started rising to the surface at the same time.”
Those connections eventually led Stevenson to meet up for a writing session with Jamie Moore, producer and songwriter for TobyMac and Jamie Grace among others. That session led to the final version of “Speak Life”, a song that would end up on TobyMac’s No. 1 album Eye On It. Even more, it would bring Stevenson into the fold at Gotee.
Interestingly enough, Stevenson said he was going to cancel his initial meeting with Moore since he was tired of constantly meeting new people and reaching for opportunities that never appeared.
“One day on my calendar it popped up with this notice that I had a co-write scheduled with Jamie Moore,” said Stevenson. “I called my manager up and said, ‘Cancel this.’ He said he would do it, yet as I sat there afterward, I heard that still small voice again, almost immediately, say, ‘Don’t cancel this.’ So I called him right back and said, ‘Don’t cancel this. I’m just gonna go.’ The funny thing is, he was gonna cancel on me too. He had called his publisher and said, ‘I can’t do this one today.’ But then he just said, ‘You know what? I’ll just do it, since the guy’s already on his way here.’”
That fateful meeting became the beginning of a fruitful friendship, one that birthed Stevenson’s new EP. Featuring four songs like the hit single “Holding Nothing Back”, it’s intended to introduce Stevenson to fans before a full-length arrives early in 2014. With meaningful and personal lyrics wrapped in dynamic pop arrangements, the EP is an ideal summer soundtrack that whets the appetite for more.
Through the ups and downs of chasing his dream, Stevenson says the ride has been worth it if only to see God’s plan and power come through in his weakest moments.
“The things that are happening right now, it makes me emotional because I could never have made it happen,” says Stevenson. “It’s always at the eleventh hour, as though God is saying, ‘You’re finally at the end of yourself. And it’s not going to be you doing this, because you’re going to know that I’m the one doing it.’ That’s the only way it can be. I know what I can do, but when I let go and see massive things blow my mind then it’s like, ‘Wow, God, you’re real and I’m so sorry for ever doubting you.’”
The music of Ryan Stevenson blends influences from soul, pop, and some of the great guitarists to create engaging acoustic guitar driven melodies. Embracing the idea that some of the most profound moments of worship emerge not from mountain-top experiences but from difficult, perhaps even catastrophic circumstance gives Ryan’s lyrics a poetic vulnerability reflecting honestly on the difficulties everyone faces. At the age of 18, his youth pastor surprised him by placing a guitar in his hands, stating, “I felt like the Lord was telling me to buy this for you” Ryan matured his musical gifts by playing at youth groups, summer camps and mission trips. While attending Northwest Christian College in Eugene, Oregon, Ryan formed an acoustic duo with fellow Christian artist Paul Wright and played in local coffee houses. After adding a full band to the mix, they played throughout the northwest, packing venues and opening for renowned Christian artists. When Wright pursued his solo career, Ryan worked with him as a co-writer, singer, and guitarist on each of Wrights mainstream releases. Ryan’s own music reflects the wealth of experience garnered from his time with these endeavors. In 2003, Stevenson moved to Boise, Idaho. He continued writing songs, leading worship, and performing in small venues, all while working as a front line paramedic. Wanting to honestly and vulnerably communicate through his recording and his live performance the grace and love that guides him through his own trials, Ryan Stevenson writes with a musical maturity beyond his years and a spiritual sensitivity that easily draws people into the musical message.
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