Steph Johnson & Voices of Our City Choir
Voices of Our City Choir is a non-profit organization that is helping San Diego’s unsheltered neighbors reconnect with hope and possibility through the healing power of music. Founded in 2016, the choir serves as a safe space for mutual aid and community building and gives a voice to San Diego's unsheltered community, both past and present. Today, Voices of Our City Choir has more than 225 members and has helped over 70 of their members get off the street and into temporary or permanent housing. In addition to its programs and advocacy work, Voices of Our City Choir also serves as an inspirational musical ensemble. In 2020, the choir was introduced on a national scale when they made it to the semi-finals of America’s Got Talent, NBC’s No. 1 summer show. The choir performs with an award-winning jazz group and performance-generated funds help employ case management staff and provide food and resources to choir members. For more information, go to: www.voicesofourcity.org
Singer/guitarist Steph Johnson is an award-winning, multi-dimensional recording artist whose music deftly blends jazz, soul, funk and blues. She’s a captivating performer whose engaging smile is complemented by a lush and distinctive voice.
Steph recently released her new album "So In Love", the 10-song collection of Johnson's favorite jazz standards and ballads. This record features pianist Josh Nelson (Natalie Cole), guitarist Anthony Wilson (Diana Krall), trumpeter Chris Lawrence, bassist Rob Thorsen and drummer Richard Sellers. You can find her music on all digital platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, and can purchase it on her website here.
DeeDee McNeil from LA Jazz Scene writes, "With her recent release of 'So In Love,' Steph continues her spiral upward towards bright, musical horizons. This may be her best recording to date.”
Steph’s 4th album, "Music is Art" is a collaboration with Grammy Award Winning producer, Kamau Kenyatta and features nine soulful, accessible and evocative original compositions by Steph Johnson, plus "Human Race," a unique take on Wayne Shorter's classic "Night Dreamer.
Steph burst onto the music scene after winning the San Diego Magazine Songwriter Award, and has received a San Diego Music Award for Best Jazz Album.
Growing up, Steph was influenced by her grandmother’s favorite singers: Ike and Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder; and by the ’70s icons beloved by her mother, including James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. Steph discovered jazz through Miles Davis' classic album, Kind of Blue, which led her to the great female jazz vocalists: Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughn.
Jazz critic Robert Bush wrote that Steph’s "…core strength is as a communicator with rhythmic depth and smoky, pliant power…her sweet yearning vocal really soars."
Her recording career has taken a back seat in recent years to social activism. Steph co-founded and is now Executive Director and Music Director of the Voices of Our City Choir, whose members are experiencing homelessness. The choir is a nonprofit that provides community and case management and has helped find housing for 60 of its 250 members. Voices of Our City Choir is now feeding approximately 1,000 individuals a week, providing meals and phone charging stations.
Voices of Our City is an inspirational musical ensemble that has garnered plenty of headlines. The choir has been the focus of a documentary "The Homeless Chorus Speaks" that aired nationally on PBS stations. The group has performed with the San Diego Symphony, and opened a benefit concert at the historic Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles on a bill that featured Jason Mraz and founding members of the Doors.
More recently Voices of Our City Choir performed on season 15 of America’s Got Talent, and was given the coveted Golden Buzzer by host Terry Crews. This catapulted them to the live shows where they became semifinalists on America's Got Talent Season 15.
Steph has been recognized as one of San Diego CityBeat’s People of the Year. She was also named 2020 Woman of the Year by San Diego Assembly member Todd Gloria. Californians for the Arts highlighted the impact Steph's work has by coining her a California Arts Champion.