By Journalist Ms. Jones
NEWBURGH – “Strumming my pain with his fingers, singing my life with his words, killing me softly with his song, killing me softly with his song, telling my whole life with his song, killing me softly with his song…” is how Tamy Stevens & Black Pearl ended their set at Funkin’ Fridays last Friday at the Silk Factory. Of course, the crowd danced and sang along to this popular Fugees song, “Woah, woah-oah-ah-ah-ah, uh, uh, la-la-la, la, la, la, woah, la, woah, la, la-ah-ah-ah-ah.”
“You want to give people something that they’re used to… I’m trying to… push my music in a way that is palatable. I want people to [say], ‘Oh, I know that song. Okay, cool. If she could sing that song, I might want to see what’s going on with her music too.’ So, I kind of try to add both in so that people would… be more apt to go look up my stuff as well,” said Stevens who sings cover songs, but has two of her own original music projects. “I put out one in 2017… That one’s called “Black Panther”… my grandfather… was a black panther… It’s being re-released…later this Spring. My most recent project [was] in 2020…“The In Between: Part 1” which I took about three years to make… It’s got this blend of all the types of music that I love, hip-hop, a little mix of R&B, and soul. So, it’s just [an] album talking about love, its talking about loss, its talking about growth, and all the things that happen in between who you’re supposed to be and where you’ve come from.”
Stevens is also working on her next project, “Song of Solomon,” which will be released later this year. It is inspired by the Bible and her husband. Her band, Black Pearl, was named after her mother’s godmother who wore a black pearl in her nose and made a huge impact on her identity. Her band is mostly family, consisting of her older brother Sean Stevens who plays the synth piano, her younger brother Micah Stevens who plays the drums, her “play brother” Myles Mann who plays keyboard, and her God brother Isaiah Hassell who plays bass guitar. Hassell also organized the event for his company, Gather ‘N Play (GNP).
“GNP is an event planning service. We put together events. We provide poetry slams, showcases, and karaoke parties. We just entertain the people. It’s really about gathering the people post-pandemic and getting people to interact with other people. So, the point of GNP is to bring everybody together and just have fun again,” said Hassell who started his company in 2019, but was affected by the pandemic. “I was afraid to put together an event and fear that the people wouldn’t want to come out and experience what I had to offer. So, for a good two years, I was shut down, it brought me to a halt, until now.”
People have definitely gotten over their COVID-related fears. There was standing room only to see Tamy Stevens & Black Pearl and masks were non-existent.
“I think we can put [the COVID-19 pandemic] behind us and look toward the future,” said Rich Fracasse, owner of the Silk Factory, who has live music at the Silk Factory on Thursdays and Fridays. “Friday night is called Funkin’ Fridays. So, we’re gonna have funk, soul, R&B, Neo Soul, that kind of music, always live. You’re gonna see the best of the best. Thursday is going to be live music sometimes. Sometimes it’s not. Thursdays is going to be called Thumpin’ Theme Thursdays. We may have a country night. We may have a blues night. We’re gonna do St. Patrick’s Day on a Thursday night.”
Fracasse plays with the Funk Junkies, a 13-piece funk band with a five piece horn section. Guess who used to sing with his band? Tamy Stevens. Not only does Stevens sing, she also plays the guitar and played it at Funkin’ Fridays.
“I believe in the progression of women, especially in the music [business]. Being a guitarist, a music producer, I’m surrounded by men constantly. So, being able to showcase that women can do it too, we’re no different and we can do it with skill,” said Stevens who taught herself to play the guitar and wants to encourage other women, especially for Women’s History Month. “I’m trying to show women they can do it too… I didn’t have a teacher to show me how to play, but people [are] asking me to teach them now.”