Steve Conn

Steve Conn's Biography

"The truth is that Conn is one of this city's most complete artists, armed with potent, poetic songs, a soul-saturated voice and a keen sense of groove."

– Craig Havighurst, The Tennessean

If you've all but given up on depth, authenticity and talent in the music business, Steve Conn will give you reason to rejoice. A uniquely gifted singer and songwriter, Conn transcends any limitations of genre with an earthy musical sensibility steeped in Louisiana roots.

The 2003 release of Steve Conn reintroduces a Grammy-nominated talent already familiar to some of the most respected names in music. In that sense, you could call Conn a musician's musician, but that suggests someone only insiders can appreciate. As fans from Boulder to Nashville, from Los Angeles to Louisiana will tell you, Steve Conn makes music for anyone with a heart and a soul.

The son of "Peanut" Conn, recognized by Melody Maker as one of the best swing violinists in the South and Southwest, Conn grew up in Pineville, Louisiana, surrounded by the sounds of Southern gospel, Perry Como and Bob Wills. Throw in the music of a generation in revolution – The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Otis Redding, Dave Brubeck, and regional stars like Dr. John – and you begin to grasp Conn's rich bank of musical influences.

Conn studied literature at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, no doubt setting the stage for the blend of keen observation and storytelling – often with the shadowy undercurrent of the best Southern writers – that marks his lyrics today. But while songwriting has been his enduring passion, he also paid his dues on the road and in the studio, playing piano, organ and accordion with a stellar and diverse list of artists including Bonnie Raitt, Sonny Landreth, Kenny Loggins, Nanci Griffith, Kris Kristofferson, Allison Moorer, Billy Joe Shaver, Mark Knopfler, Dixie Chicks, Albert King, Sheena Easton, Marshall Crenshaw and more.

Living in Colorado in the 1980s, Conn released Heart Full of Blues, featuring his old friend Sonny Landreth and guitar legend Elliot Randall. That album also featured "The Rain," a moving song of heartbreak and loss that was later recorded by The Persuasions. In 1994, Conn followed up with the critically acclaimed River of Madness, a compelling hybrid of Louisiana-influenced, pop-inspired deep grooves and high ideals.

He received a Grammy nomination for his piano, harmonica and saxophone work with BeauSoleil, and another for his accordion work with Arlo Guthrie. He spent two years as musical director for E-Town, a weekly National Public Radio variety show that integrated the finest Americana, roots and folk music with environmental education and information. In that capacity, Conn worked with another roster of great artists, including James Taylor, Michelle Shocked, Shawn Colvin, David Wilcox, Maura O'Connell, Emmylou Harris and others. He also continued to perform as a solo artist, earning a nod as a New Folk Finalist at the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival in 1997.

Since 1993, Conn has made his home just outside of Nashville with a renewed focus on writing and recording his own songs. While the just-released Steve Conn nods appreciatively to all of the influences of the past, the music is clearly and completely 21st-century Conn, with Sonny Landreth, Darrell Scott and others along for a sometimes funky and always soulful ride. His sophisticated but idealistic world view comes through in "If I Were King," and his commitment to spirit and tolerance of human frailty colors "You've Got to Love Everybody." That sinister, Southern-novel-worthy streak has a sly, off-center grin in "I've Got Your Dog," and a broken longing in "Down On Rigolette." But Conn is perhaps never more compelling than when he goes straight to the heart with an aching vulnerability in "Comfort Me," "Beautiful," and "Eliana."

Conn has also been writing music for TV, with music featured on Oprah, The Bachelor, Once and Again and numerous shows throughout the world.

In the end, it's that unwavering emotional compass that gives Steve Conn's music lasting resonance and a powerful presence. Your mind will appreciate his intelligence, his chops, and – if you're lucky enough to see him perform live – his humor. But it's what you feel when you hear his music that stays with you, and makes you want to hear it all again. That's what makes Steve Conn a singular gift from a profoundly talented artist.