By: Krystyn Decker
There’s definitely no shortage of talent here in Newfoundland and Labrador. With an abundance of artists, especially musicians, it’s amazing to see that the talent coming out of the province won’t be nearing an end any time soon.
With the release of his debut solo EP in 2016, titled Make You Believe, and a second EP titled Country Style released this year, Stephen B. Lawrence is making moves, and in big ways.
Small Town Roots
Lawrence was born and raised in Newfoundland. The youngest of five boys, Stephen shares how one of his brothers was the inspired musician as a young boy, wanting to be a “rock star,” not him. Surrounded by music, it comes as no surprise that he ended up in the industry himself.
“I was a big fan of Kenny Rogers growing up because my mother would actually soothe me as a baby with Kenny Rogers records. She’d lay me down between two speakers and put the Kenny Rogers albums on,” Lawrence shares with a laugh.
The musician got his early years of experience singing in a church choir, which could explain where his gospel roots, heard in some of his music, comes from.
“I actually joined the church choir at about 11 years old. That was my first experience with singing, with the Anglican church choir in Stephenville. My first acoustic guitar was given to me by a family friend, and that ended up over one of my brother’s heads carrying on,” Lawrence chuckles.
Around the age of 18, he joined the music scene in his area, playing in a local band and picking up nearby gigs. At 21, he finally took up singing himself.
“I got into singing, all cover songs,” he says. “I was writing, but it was not the direction that the band I was in at the time wanted to go. They were more into the ’90s rock type theme, and of course, I was writing country. That’s just what comes out of me when I write, country music.”
For the next couple of decades, Lawrence found himself playing cover songs in bands around Newfoundland. He hit a wall in his career, and couldn’t figure out the next move.
“I gave up music, and I was thinking about giving up totally at 40 years old, and I decided to go back to college and retrain myself. I went back and trained to become a safety officer at Academy Canada and had all intentions of just giving up music totally.”
The dream still thrived for him though, and he eventually got back into writing.
“I started co-writing with another guy, and he kind of convinced me like, ‘You know what? You got some good tunes, you should probably be hitting the studio and trying to record some of that stuff.’ So, I decided maybe I should give it another kick at the can. I decided to go cab driving in the evenings and make some extra money so I could actually get in the studio and record an EP.”
Lawrence’s first EP, Make You Believe, was nominated for the 2016 Country Recording of the Year with MusicNL, and the single Far From Where You Are was selected as a regional finalist for the 2016 CBC Searchlight competition. This helped the singer/songwriter acquire industry interest, and he was introduced to Rosner Management Services. Lawrence decided to sign with them, and that eventually led to his publishing deal with World Music Stage Records.
“At 43 I never thought I’d get signed to a label, you know, at 40 I was going ‘If I’m not a rock star by now, nothing’s gonna happen.’ So it’s slow, but they’re happening.”
Things really are happening. Lawrence has been booked on the upcoming Rise Up Tour, where he will be joining in on the eastern leg of the tour. The tour starts on May 28th in Windsor, Ontario, with the grand finale being held in Montréal on June 2nd. The tour will be filmed for television, and they will be featuring 24 artists over 12 episodes.
“All of us will be on one bus and we will go from town to town, and they’re filming it all. It’s almost like a reality type of show.”
Lawrence continues, “When it comes to the tour I am being featured as an artist, so they will be featuring Newfoundland and where I’m from and stuff like that on the episode, not just all about me.”
To add to the list for 2018, Lawrence also plans to attend the ECMAs this coming year in Halifax. Keep an eye out for Stephen B. Lawrence in a city near you!
For more info on the Rise Up tour, visit patreon.com/RiseUpTV and for concert listings, visitworldmusicstagerecords.com/artists/stephen-b-lawrence/