Isaac Steves, a fiddler and accounting major at Cumberland University, recently returned from a whirlwind musical experience in California.
Steves, along with Gracie Phillips and Zach Lee, is a member of the folk pop band Gracie Phillips. It recently received accolades in at the Springboard West Music Festival sponsored by music website Reverb Nation at San Diego’s Ocean Beach.
Over 3,000 acts applied for the three-day event, and only 40 were selected. Acts came from Australia and South Africa to attend. Steves said that the event is meant to expose independent artists and jumpstart their careers with a focus on getting their original music in films and television.
“There were three bands right before the event that got their songs on film and TV,” he said. “And there were producers there associated with Nickelback, Miley Cyrus, Guns N’ Roses. The head of Radio Disney was there. And the guy who does all the music for ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ was there. He was actually the one who chose us,” Steves said.
“There were four venues with 10 bands in each venue getting to do 30-minute sets each. The entire thing really expanded us.”
Steves started playing the violin at age 7 and said he was inspired musically by his father, physician Robert Steves, a guitar and piano player. Now 21 and the oldest of seven siblings, Steves said he finds pleasure in teaching music to some of his little brothers.
“I’m teaching my 14-year-old brother Lucas, and I’m teaching my youngest brother Micah whose 6. If he sticks with it, he’ll be a lot better than what I am. Which is what I’m hoping for because I’ve always wanted a younger sibling to play with,” Steves said.
Steves was a member of the Music City Youth Orchestra in Nashville during his high school years and served as a violinist and concertmaster.
“Basically, if there’s some kind of anomaly and the conductor can’t lead, the concertmaster takes his place, knows the music, knows all the cues,” Steves said. “I’ve never seen it happen but I was ready if it did,” he laughs.
He met his wife, Joy Shearer, on a worship team and they married in august of 2018. Steves also teaches violin at Topper’s Music in Lebanon. He is scheduled to graduate from Cumberland in May with an accounting degree.
Steves says that he and the band are considering their next steps after the San Diego festival.
“We are looking at ways to expand our fanbase and looking at the potential of touring in the next six months to one year,” he said.