Stephanie Rooker is working on making people listen, on calling us to take a moment to recognize what we have, and what we have to give…and this is what her debut recording project, Tellin You Right Now, is all about.
Her music, reflecting a life filled with love & growth, pain & healing, and the beauty of hope, has been tested in the venues of New York for the past two years. Supported by a 6-piece band of young, inspired musicians—all mavericks on the New York scene—from specialized backgrounds in jazz, reggae, gospel, and hip-hop, Rooker’s songs are ripe with innovation and rounded by expertise. In Tellin You Right Now, Rooker harnesses this musical diversity, seamlessly blending colors and textures to make each track a unique combination of groove, heart, and light.
Drawing from her broad range of musical influences: from singer-songwriter folk of her native Appalachia to her immersion in traditional folk music of Ghana, from her distinctive grasp of the cultural evolution of American gospel--blues--jazz--soul--hip-hop to her passion for the conscious vibes of New Zealand soul and reggae music, her sound is fresh and cultivated. Rooker sings with the careful phrasing of a soulful Eva Cassidy, the wailing of a young, blues-steeped Bonnie Raitt, and the self-affirmative slant of Stevie Wonder.
Rooker attended historically progressive Oberlin College, where her coursework could reflect her broadminded values and support her musical ambitions. There, she designed an independent major in Ethnomusicology with an emphasis on West Africa and the Diaspora. This gave Rooker the opportunity to study for 4 months in Ghana, during which time she conducted field research and recordings and produced a CD of the traditional music of the Ashanti, Dagomba, and Ga people of Ghana. It was also during this time that she began composing her own music and booked her first tour as a folk duo with bluegrass guitarist Chris Eldridge.
After graduating from Oberlin, Rooker settled in Brooklyn, NY, where she began pursuing opportunities to hone her musical abilities and immerse herself in the New York music scene. She began studying with jazz pianist Charles Sibirsky, under whose tutelage she recorded her first jazz demo, was introduced to players, and began booking gigs around the city that opened the doors to a promising career.
The release of Tellin You Right Now marks the culmination of a journey for Stephanie Rooker. She has produced a collection of her own words and music to speak the truth as she lives it. This music is brimming with hope. It’s not a saccharine or unsubstantiated hope, but a wide-awake, insistent kind of hope…the kind that unites us, that reflects on our separations with wisdom and understanding, and reminds us to keep on lovin’ and doing good for one another.