Singer/guitarist Steph Johnson is an award-winning, multi-dimensional recording artist whose music deftly blends jazz, soul, funk and blues. She’s a captivating performer whose engaging smile is complemented by a lush and distinctive voice.
Steph’s most recently released album, Music is Art, was produced and arranged by Grammy Award-winner Kamau Kenyatta. Her soon-to-be-released So in Love is a jazz album featuring pianist Josh Nelson (Natalie Cole), guitarist Anthony Wilson (Diana Krall), trumpeter Chris Lawrence (Melody Gardot), husband/bassist Rob Thorsen and drummer Richard Sellers.
She burst onto the music scene after winning the San Diego Magazine Songwriter Award, and has received a San Diego Music Award for Best Jazz Album. Steph also performs at a Saturday night residency at the Westgate Hotel in downtown San Diego.
Growing up, Steph was influenced by her grandmother’s favorite singers: Ike and Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder; and by the ’70s icons beloved by her mother, including James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. Steph discovered jazz through Miles Davis' classic album, Kind of Blue, which led her to the great female jazz vocalists: Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughn.
Jazz critic Robert Bush wrote that Steph’s "…core strength is as a communicator with rhythmic depth and smoky, pliant power…her sweet yearning vocal really soars."
Her recording career has taken a back seat in recent years to social activism. Steph founded and is now Executive Director and Music Director of the Voices of Our City Choir, whose members are experiencing homelessness. The choir is a nonprofit that provides community and case management and has helped find housing for 50 of its 250 members.
Voices of Our City is an inspirational musical ensemble that has garnered plenty of headlines. The choir has been the focus of a documentary "The Homeless Chorus Speaks" that aired nationally on PBS stations. The group has performed with the San Diego Symphony, and opened a benefit concert at the historic Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles on a bill that featured Jason Mraz and founding members of the Doors.
Steph has been recognized as one of San Diego CityBeat’s People of the Year. She was also named 2020 Woman of the Year by San Diego Assemblymember Todd Gloria.