Artist/Songwriter, Stephanie Rainey
Just when you think you have life and all of its complications sorted, along comes unpredictability to teach you a lesson. We are not talking about how anxious the year 2020 was for everyone, but rather the unspoken trials and tribulations of a humble yet exceptional singer-songwriter. For Cork’s Stephanie Rainey, the past five years have seen her experience a series of creative and personal bungee jumps. That she has processed these highs and lows with such positivity is proof of character, resilience and self-belief. When Stephanie released Please Don’t Go in 2015, its success – and the reaction to its accompanying heart-wrenching video – was such that she was flown backwards and forwards across the world for a series of meetings with music industry movers and shakers. “Suddenly,” she recalls, “every door was open and all I had to do was walk through them.” It sounds simple and safe, doesn’t it, walking through open doors, especially when there are tantalising prospects of champagne, strawberries and a record deal on the table. For Stephanie, however, the deep-pile rug on the floor of the room she walked into was resting on a bed of music industry nails. That was then, of course, and from the distance of a few years, following a period of readjustment and recalibration, she can look back and be grateful for what happened – the good as well as the bad. “Here I am,” she asserts, “ready and armed with more information and experience than ever before. I wasn’t prepared then but I am now. I’m out the other side of what was a very challenging time, and I wouldn’t change a second of the hurt or hardship given what I’ve learned in the process” The time is right for someone as resilient and forward-thinking as Stephanie Rainey. One of Ireland’s most-played female artists on radio, she has a combined 30m streams and views across all music on social platforms. With 20m hits across social platforms of the video for Please Don’t Go (as well as a US Billboard 200 charting for the song), she has shared spotlights with the likes of Imelda May, Kodaline, The Waterboys, Tom Walker, Tom Odell, and Donovan. Stephanie has also played most of Ireland’s primary music festivals, including Indiependence and Electric Picnic, can sell out Irish venues with ease, and is a record breaker (going gold) courtesy of her inclusion in the ensemble Irish Women in Harmony, whose 2020 cover version of The Cranberries’ Dreams has amassed well over 1m Spotify streams. You could apply the overused word ‘journey’ to Stephanie’s life over the past few years, yet she has indeed gone through the equivalent of a personal and creative spin cycle. It was, she hints, like a thrill ride full of high hopes plummeting to the ground. The rollercoaster began with the “huge high of success” and then dipped with “the realisation that things weren’t working out. I didn’t see it at the time but in retrospect the vibe change was obvious. The steam had started to run out of the engine, and I was scrambling constantly trying to get it to work – asking for the team to try for this and that opportunity but with none of them landing.” Then came the resultant panic, being dropped from a major record label, and “the sadness and shame” of that. “When you sign a record deal you think that’s it, you just have to wait and it’ll all work out, but that’s not true. For it to work, so many things have to align, there has to be a clear vision and a plan you rigidly stick to. I didn’t have that until a while ago, so looking back in a healthier frame of mind, I feel it’s not too surprising that it didn’t work.” She quickly gained eyes-wide-open perspectives, however, when she realised she hadn’t failed at all. “My success was and is still growing,” Stephanie contends. Her refusal to even think of giving up is admirable considering her vulnerability is tested on a regular basis. Forthcoming material is a reflection of such an approach. Karma may not have been instant but it has arrived nonetheless. Stephanie decided to surround herself only with people who she knew were good for her and have her best interests at heart. “That approach has changed everything. I’ve also stopped caring so much about the opinions of others. My intentions are always good when it comes to music - I hope people like it but if they don’t I try not to be as scarred by it.” She has, she confirms, figured out a way to be Stephanie Rainey the artist and Steph the person. The separation makes it easier for her to be a wearer of different ‘hats’ as and when required. And yet true, empathetic vulnerability prevails. “I’m not a fixed person, and I still struggle with the moods of life and of this job. That innate sensitivity and anxiety will never go away, but I’m constantly figuring it out. Ironically, all of the chaos I’ve waded through, that forced me to my lowest point, has and will continue to be the making of me.” The new songs fluently reference such conflicts in a typically truthful, inspiring manner. The new single, No Cowboy (“realising that happy endings you see on television aren’t always happy”) and its follow-up, Woman (“about my mom, who almost died in 2019 – it’s an anthem about the self-love and the respect we learn from strong, inspiring women”), are the sound of a songwriter reassembled and raring to go. “My wish for the new songs,” remarks Stephanie, “is they find the ears that need them. If they do that I’ll be happy. All I have to offer the world is my version of my truth. To actually connect with what I’m saying I have to be honest. People will see through me if I don’t, and I’ll see through myself, which is worse. I want the music to empower people, to know they can overcome that sense of hopelessness. More often than not that comes from inside you, and so you have to decide to change or address things that are causing you distress.” Serious stuff, for sure, and yet at the heart of Stephanie’s creative sensibility is her love of the simple, glorious pop song. She has learned from the greats - draw the listener in with credible, interesting, perceptive lyrics and then knock ‘em out with hook after hook. “I grew up listening to and loving pop songs, and the way they can cut you open with one line is something to be treasured. I love the way they remind you of a time and place. I want to be that time and that place for someone, or for a group of friends that came to one of my gigs and had a cry or a laugh. That’s the goal.” ++++++++++++++++ Stephanie Rainey’s new single, Ross & Rachel is released April 23rd. In a forthcoming TV special that celebrates the 75th birthday of iconic folk/pop singer and songwriter Donovan, Stephanie performs Catch the Wind and Colours, two of Donovan’s best-known songs. She also contributes three songs (Please Don’t Go, Catch the Wind, Colours) to the soundtrack a forthcoming feature film, details of which will be announced shortly. """
Stephanie is speaking at
The hosts of the rooms will share songwriting tips, stories and more - possibly even play a few songs / parts. The hosts have been involved with award winning and nominated albums and songs, toured extensively and have a lot of history on approaching songwriting.
Ken has toured internationally, appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and played such major venues as The Air Canada Centre. When he puts on his cowboy hat, Tizzard can be spotted performing his original material, solo or with a band, for a loyal and growing audience in pubs, clubs and concert halls across Canada.
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