After a lifetime of singing in churches and small venues, Stephen B. Steward has gone professional with the release of his debut CD, ‘Enter Your Gates.’
The new album, produced by Steward and his wife, Onesha, contains 13 gospel numbers peppered with horns, harmony, and a jazzy feel that Steward describes as an ‘Afro-Cuban connotation.’
“My music is contemporary praise and worship, but my goal is a universal sound that crosses over and transcends not only race, but culture as well,” said Steward, who composed all of the albums songs.
The CD offers hypnotic melodies such as ‘Jesus Reign’ and ‘I Sense Your Presence,’ along with rousing, praise selections like ‘The Restorer’ and the title track, ‘Enter Your Gates.’ Regardless of the beat, all of the lyrics reflect Steward’s deep relationship with Christ and steadfast love of the Lord.
“This album is basically an invitation into the presence of the Lord, as David declared in Psalms, and in His presence is the fullness of the Lord. Come into His presence and let it become a part of your everyday experience,” he explained.
Steward, who has authored more than 300 songs over the years, receives his writing inspiration from a range of daily encounters.
“Sometimes, I write a song after hearing a sermon or after hearing another person encouraging or discouraging someone else.
“I wrote ‘I Repent’ after a young lady came to me at work and said she went into a church and people looked at her like she was scum and didn’t say ‘hello’ or embrace her. She said, ‘I’ll never go to church again!’
“So, I prayed with her and told her, ‘I will stand in the gap and repent for those who scorned you because that’s not the attitude God has. He loves and embraces everybody.
“The Bible says it is God’s will that no one should perish. She went to church seeking God and was rejected. The song, ‘I Repent,’ is a result of that experience,” he recalled.
Starting his music career at mid-life was intentional on Steward’s part. After becoming a parent, he wanted to be actively involved in his children’s lives.
“I wanted to be a ‘hands-on’ dad to my two children, Stephen and Erica, so I waited purposely until they graduated from high school. I didn’t want my kids to have an excuse to fail.
“Now, they are in college and growing up to be responsible individuals and that’s what I wanted.”
To others seeking a music career, Steward advised, “First, you have to have a vision for it. Then, you set your goals and you work and work and work. That’s what it is, hard work.
“Nothing that’s great comes easy. Stick to your craft and seek mentorship from somebody,” he recommended, adding that gospel legend, Andrè Crouch, has been a mentor to him.
“I met him 20 years ago and we became friends. I’ve gleaned from what he’s done over the years. The song on the album, ‘With My Whole Heart,’ is a collaboration with Andrè.”
Now that Steward has completed his first CD, he’s selecting songs from his catalogue to include on his sophomore album. Inspiring him to the next stage is his desire to obey God.
“Doing music is nothing but obedience to me. The Bible says obedience is better than sacrifice,” said Steward.
“Colossians tells us to speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. It must come from your heart before it can affect to other people.
“Music is something God planted in me and I know I have to release it.”