Stephanie Rice came to our attention earlier this year as a contestant on Season 12 of NBC’s The Voice. Having spent time on both Team Gwen and Team Alicia, she garnered an incredibly strong following thanks to her stunning voice and emotive performances.
However, it wasn’t just her voice which captured the hearts of the viewers. During the show, Stephanie shared her powerful story which resulted in compelling performances on the show. Ten years ago, Stephanie came out as a lesbian to her parents, which resulted in them cruelly abandoning her. Finding herself completely alone, she faced a tough journey but successfully climbed the mountain of misery, finding happiness and freedom on the other side.
Moving to Houston, she graduated with honors with a BS in Biology and entered the professional medical field. After conducting ground-breaking research involving HIV, she later even published an article for the Journal of AIDS. However, throughout it all, music was her saviour. Using her songwriting as a personal outlet, Stephanie was able to pour her feelings into breathtaking songs. In 2016, she decided to commit to music full time and completed her debut album Dear Misery with her band, Colonial Blue.
Stephanie is a beacon of light and hope for many, and is set to continue to inspire others when she releases her new material. On Friday, Stephanie unveiled her debut solo single ‘Let Me Go’, a haunting ballad which will tear at your heartstrings. It’s evident that the singer poured her heart and soul into the track, and proves that she is already a spectacular artist worth listening to.
We recently spoke to Stephanie about her time on The Voice, how music has helped her on her journey, her debut solo single and much more.
You were a contestant on the most recent season of NBC’s the Voice. How did you find the experience?
I found the experience to be an overwhelmingly positive one. I had no idea what to expect when I made it onto the show – but I have to say- I was fairly optimistic about it all. Not that I was expecting to go far but because I felt like no matter the outcome – the experience alone would be worth it. My optimistic expectations were completely surpassed, though. I found that I went further than I anticipated I would, received incredible amounts of knowledge and skills from some of the best in the industry, and I formed what felt like life-long relationships with people. The whole experience made me a better artist and person. I really couldn’t ask for more.
You were very open about your story on the show and are an inspiration to many. How has music helped you on your journey?
There is not one step that I’ve taken that music wasn’t there to support. I always say music saved my life. It saved me spiritually, emotionally and I believe even physically. When I was at my lowest, I feel like I only had brokenness inside of me – feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, and music is what gave me hope. I started writing out my pain in the form of songs and began singing them at open mics around Houston. I remember being unsure of singing in public, but it felt like if I didn’t, the pain would just stay in me forever. After nights of braving my soul, I began seeing that people connected with the songs I was singing. When I saw this – it gave me life. In those moments, I realized I wasn’t alone… and it kept me holding on until the next day, until the next song.
You spent time on both Team Gwen and Alicia. What were they like to work with, and how did they differ as mentors?
Isn’t it crazy that I can say that I’ve worked with Gwen Stefani and Alicia Keys?! I don’t think I will ever get over this!! Gwen and Blake turned their chairs for me, but I feel like Gwen and I immediately connected. I chose to work with her, and she was incredible. The biggest thing I learned from her was how to embrace my uniqueness. When Alicia Keys stole me, I went in ready to work hard and become a better artist. Alicia had so much belief in me and it made me believe in myself more. Gwen really focused on vocal styling with me, and Alicia was all about the heart and soul of the song. Focusing on the feeling of the song made me feel so free. I began thinking less about what I was doing and focused solely on singing from a place of authenticity. When I sing – I want to make people feel. Alicia really helped me harness how to open up my heart more to make that happen.
— Alicia Keys (@aliciakeys) May 3, 2017
What was your favorite song to sing on the show?
It’s a tie between ‘Safe and Sound’ and ‘Every Breath You Take.’
‘Safe and Sound’ is true to my acoustic style of writing, and the words are absolutely beautiful. I felt as if I was singing the song to my broken, 18-year-old self. It was an empowering moment for me. But the instrument that has my heart is the piano – and not only did I play the piano for ‘Every Breath You Take,’ but I shed my signature style and traded it for a hatless, all-white look. I felt like I stepped out of my comfort zone and grew immensely from it.
Thanks to your powerful story, you found a fan in Kelly Clarkson whilst competing on the show. What did it mean to have the support of such a big artist?
I NEVER expected for Kelly Clarkson to tweet at me. My friend actually showed me the tweet on her phone, and I thought that it was fake! I was so overwhelmed by it. Not only did she take the time to listen but she shared with me encouraging words. It honestly meant more to me than she may ever know. I’m a huge fan of her music and of her writing. ‘Piece by Piece’ is such a raw song – and it was very tough for me to sing. I often got choked up during the rehearsal for it – but the truth in her writing gave me strength. It connected me to her and made me feel less alone in the pain I was experiencing.
You’ll be releasing your first solo single on July 28th. What can you tell us about the song?
I spoke openly about my story on The Voice, but there’s one thing I haven’t really spoken about, yet it is something that heavily influences my writing.
I can honestly say that I climbed the mountain of misery and have been able to mend a lot of the broken pieces, but there are still deep seeded issues that I struggle with as a consequence of what happened to me. To be blunt: I deal with severe abandonment issues. When I was rejected by the very people who gave me life, I developed a strong sense of unworthiness. ‘Let Me Go’ is a song that captures the rawness of those insecurities.
I always strive to be truthful in my writing – but this song is so raw that it made me feel uncomfortable when writing it. My fans have inspired me to be more honest as it became evident that when I shared my truth, there were other people who shared the same truth.
My passion is to make people feel – but more specifically – to make people feel like they are not alone. This song is a song that will resonate with anyone who has ever been heartbroken or with anyone who lives in fear of being heartbroken.
You’re also working towards your own album. What can fans expect from it?
You can expect a lot of heart and soul. There will be a theme of brokenness as pain is often my inspirational source of writing. This is because writing is how I work through any issues that I’m having, so this album will in a lot of ways be like an audio journal of my emotional journey.
You’ve previously released an album with your band Colonial Blue. How does it feel to now be going at it alone?
It’s really more of a name change than a personnel change. I co-founded Colonial Blue with my drummer Corey Chierighino. We’ve played gigs together in Houston over the last four years, and we’ve become family. He’s not going anywhere! We are still playing shows together and are hitting the road excited about the new music. The name change comes at a good time as this album will sound completely different than the first. I wrote all of the first album on acoustic guitar, which steered the songwriting and production down a more folk-rock path. This album, I decided to write on the instrument that first stole my heart. I wasn’t able to write on the piano for so long as I didn’t have one. But I’ve returned to my first love, and the songwriting has gone in a different direction. The single is truly a family affair as my brother, Benjamin Rice, will be producing the track.
Before committing to music full time, you were a scientist who achieved a great deal including publishing an article for the Journal of AIDS. What made you decide to pursue music full-time instead?
Throughout my time as a scientist, music was still a huge part of my life. I always say that I had two full-time jobs because I would head out of work, change out of my lab coat into my leather pants, and rush to my gig. It came to a point where I needed to make a decision of which I would pursue. I had never had the opportunity to focus solely on music, and I just knew in my heart that it was time. It was a scary decision to make, but the power of music was so evident to me in my life that the answer was easy. I want to share with people the healing power of music. It saved my life, and if it can save one other, then it is my responsibility to share it with as many people as I can.
You’ve mentioned in the past that you’d like to collaborate with Coldplay. What do you love the most about them and their music?
I think Chris Martin is one of the best songwriters that has ever lived. His songs have a way of penetrating your soul. His lyrics are moving, and he delivers them with so much emotion. The songwriting has a way of taking you on a journey – and that’s exactly what I aspire to do.
What do you hope that people will take away from your music?
I want people to realize that we are all connected – that we are not alone in the struggles that we face. The songs I write have helped make me heal, and my hope is that the music will help others as well.
As a solo artist, what would you like to achieve during your career?
I want to make people feel, heal, and realize we are one. There is nothing that should divide us. We all have something in our lives that we can connect over – and I want my music to be the bridge that crosses barriers, uniting us and reminding us that we are all human.
What else does 2017 have in store for you?
Music, music, music, and more music.
Do you have a message for your supporters?
I wouldn’t be here, doing what I love, if it wasn’t for you. You are the reason that my dreams have come true, and you are the reason why I am working tirelessly to release new music. I feel your love so overwhelmingly, and I am impassioned to give back to you through songs. You inspire me every day. Thank you.
‘Let Me Go’ is available now.