Wednesday 27 January 2010


Not long

to go now to the Prestatyn Soul Weekender commencing on Thursday 18th March through to Monday 22nd March.This one of course is being headlined by Stephanie Cooke & Kenny Bobien and Tortured Soul.For me it is the first time at Prestatyn as a DJ and I have to say I am looking forward to it immensely. It is great to see this event stepping up through the levels due to the hard work of people like Fish,Mark Randle and all the dj’s who have helped the Modern Room and the House of Soul develop into such an important event on the soul calendar.

But as a tempter I managed to get some time to interview one of the stars of the weekend Miss Stephanie Cooke one of my favourite house music vocalists, I am currently hammering her new song with Jonny Montana I Owe You which is a quality slice of modern Soulful House that is burning up the dancefloors !

Here we go Hi Stephanie

Where were you born ?

I was born in Newark
Where did you grow up and was it in a church background?
I did have a church background and grew up in Newark.

How did you first get into singing ?
I first started singing in church choirs and later was asked to demo a song which turned out to be a single, my first single ever out on Kingstreet Sounds entitled Excuses.

Which vocalists influenced your own singing style ?
I grew up loving Gladys Knight, Diana Ross, and Chaka mostly but I honestly don’t know which of them really had influence on me vocally, maybe all of them
What influenced you musically as you grew up and which artists influenced you?
Most of the music that really moved me growing up came from artists like Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, and again Gladys Knight, Diana Ross and Chaka Khan
Those were the artists whose music really made me want to do it my self and be great at it.
When did you first get into writing songs and what and who influenced this ?How did you break into the record industry ?
What year did you sign to King Street records and can you talk about your time with King Street ?
My first song on Kingstreet was in the early 90’s and it led to a long working relationship between myself and the well respected label. Mr. Ishioka has supported my career from the beginning and still does today.
Can you tell us some of your own favourite songs that you have written and about your time writing for Chante Moore ?
All of my songs are very special to me, like my children they all have their own special place in my heart. If I had to pick specific ones, I’d have to say “Love Will” for what it did for me emotionally as I was going through some really tough things at the time. It was a true testimony for where I was at the time. Also more recently “This Time” which is also a true testament to my heart’s position on love. “Thinking I’m Beautiful is another one. This song is not meant to show conceit but rather an ability to be free enough to accept my beauty inside and out, and not be ashamed to say it. Women need to be able to find themselves beautiful and not have to feel like someone is going to think that they are being vain or conceited because of it.
You were involved in the 90’s on remix projects including SWV,Braxtons and Changing Faces could you talk a little about that period
During the 90’s I did lots of remix projects where I’d go in with the producer and just rearrange how the song was laid out vocally putting my own little influence on it. Most of these were done with Producers like All-Star, and DJ Enough from NY, and even some others who were up and coming at the time.
And do you enjoy remixing ?
I really do enjoy remixing and giving my perspective on a song. I also remixed a couple of songs for Double.
Who are your favourite producers,arrangers,writers ?
In my opinion, one of the greatest producers in the world is Fred Hammond, who does gospel, and also happens to be one of my favorite artists and songwriters, I also love Josh Milan and Kevin Hedge for their ability to put life and love into musical productions. Some of my other favorites include Glenn Underground, Kerri Chandler, Nick Moss, Jonny Montana, and so on. As for writers Monique Bingham is priceless.
You were involved in Kenny’s Blessed Gospel DanceTheory classic sessions what are your recollections from that ?
I did do some vocal stuff on Kenny’s Blessed project, working with him is always like working on a very well oiled machine, quick, precise, and to the point, always superbly executed. Good stuff.
You expanded your songwriting in the 90’s too writing for Tyrese,Jody Watley and Phajja could you talk a little about this period please.
During the 90’s I was traveling and doing a lot of writing and vocal production projects. The Tyrese and Phajja projects were directly connected to my relationship with my then manager, Troy Patterson who was responsible for a lot of the major projects I worked on.
You have also been involved in the burgeoning Japanese market and wrote for Double and were involved in a Mondo Grosso project called closer,I still play Shoulda Been Lovin You from that cd ! Could you tell us about your experiences in and with Japan a country that hugely supports black music !
Japan to date, is THE most wonderful place in the world for me to visit and perform.. I am so excited about the way I am received when I am there. I have yet to have a bad experience when gigging in Japan.
You also recorded with Studio Apartment was this done in the USA or Japan ?
I recorded a demo in the US, for the Studio Apartment Project, but the actual record itself was recorded in Tokyo.
Your talent and popularity is recognised all over the world which countries have you visited ?You have also been to the UK before appearing at The Southport Dance Weekender,what are your memories from that ?
I have been to many countries, Italy, Germany, Greece, Japan, Indonesia, the list is quite endless, still waiting to be booked in South Africa!!
Southport was wonderful. I just remember the huge crowd singing back to me “LOVE WILL ALWAYS FIND A WAY’ LOL
More recently you have cut songs for West End,Deep Haven,Soul Groove,Home,Foliage ,Consortium Muzik,MN2S,Deepa Grooves,Camio and Louis Benedetti’s Soulshine label with Hold On to Me a duet with Kenny Bobien,which of these did you write and could you tell us a little about these projects ?
Most of these project were single deals, West End of course was a special experience, since I was working with some of the greatest producers in my opinion that I’ve worked with in my entire career. The only thing coming out of the studio when working with Blaze, is a HIT!! As for the others, there were many projects that were simply songs I either shopped or songs created for the label as solicited.
Well, I have never done a song that I didn’t write, unless it was a remake, as for the song with Kenny, I just really sang on the backgrounds and was later brought up in the mix as a feature.
What are your feelings about the music industry today with the change from vinyl/cd to downloads ? Does Traxsource play a huge role for you ?
The change of the industry to this worldwide download system, is disappointing since we as songwriters rely on sales and many time because of all the file sharing sites, our music is simply given away for free, making it almost impossible for artists/songwriters like myself to really benefit from sales. Traxsource definitely plays a role, It’s a given for those of us who do this thing called house, to check the top ten daily to see who’s got the heat, so it definitely doesn’t hurt when I have songs in the running on traxsource’s list.
The Everything Project was full of Stephanie Cooke bombs released through King Street with some quality house remixes
Including Blaze,Big Moses & Dennis Ferrer and rightly received accolades all over the world it was also released as an R&B Remix project was this your idea and would you like to record an all R&B Stephanie Cooke album in the future ?
Actually I must correct you on this. Everything was originally an R&B Project which was remixed into a dance project. It was supposed to be released as an R&B project worldwide. I believe that breaking an R&B act was a little over the top at the time and since I had a following worldwide already, it was the obvious thing to do. And smart I might add.
I hope to record another Stephanie Cooke Album this year.
Which ten records had the most influence on your life and musical career ?
Marvin Gaye’s Let’s get it on ((I soooo love that song)) always have.
Chaka Khan’s I’m every woman
Whitney Houston’s You give good love
Clark Sisters’ - Every song they ever recorded
Earth Wind and Fire’s That’s the way of the World and Reasons
Amel Larieux’s No One Else
Stevie Wonder’s Entire Songs in the Key of Life Album
Fred Hammond’s There’s a praise
Blaze’s Found Love
If Stephanie Cooke is going out dancing where do you go ?
Hmm, you know, I really don’t go out dancing, funny right. LOL I am really at home most of the time with my boys and only really go out if I have a show, or if there is something in particular going on that I just really want to experience. Like DJ’s playing in Atlanta that I do get to see often. If Joe Clausell is playing Im there!! LOL, but seriously, I am mommy 24/7 and going out is not usually an option.

What music do you listen to at home or in the car or on your ipod ?

When I listen to music, it’s usually Beyonce, Keshia Cole, Amel, Jill Scott, Women who inspire me to be strong because they show so much strength through their music. Sometimes we don’t really feel so strong, and may not even appear so strong, but when we can get in the studio and let our lyrics and melodies express the strength for us that we know is in us, it makes it a little easier for us to be strong and continue holding on for that change that is inevitably going to come for us, hope that made since. Lol.
Your latest release is “Sing” on Camio tell us how this came about and the lyric writing ?
Sing is a song I wrote that was inspired by the lovely track sent to me from one Mr. Joe Flame. I remember feeling so down that day and I just didn’t know what I wanted to say, and when I played the track, then played it a second time, the words and the melody became so clear, JUST SING. I love the outcome.
Your latest release is “Sing” on Camio tell us how this came about and the lyric writing ?
Stephanie your musical output has been prolific over the last 14 years is there anything you would like to do that you haven’t already.
There is so much more that I want to do, like spoken word and African vibes and beats, ultimately before I retire, I would love to be that artist that everyone lives to see perform. The artist who commands the stage with such grace, beauty, confidence and personality. I’d love to do some videos and reach more than just the dance community with my message of love through song. I believe there are still so many things that I will accomplish in music.

You are coming to the Prestatyn Soul Weekender in March 2010,do you have any other gigs planned for the UK or Europe in 2010 ?

No confirmed gigs, only requests so far, but I will keep you posted if anything comes up soon.

I am so honored to have this time with you and thank you for supporting what I do. It’s truly the “ONE TRUE LOVE” of my life. Blessings and Peace.

It’s been great talking to you Stephanie and we are all looking forward to your performance at the Prestatyn Soul Weekender in March !! Thanks for taking the time out !

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