Back in 2016, I interviewed Maine jazz singer/songwriter Sami Stevens, who currently resides in New York City, for a show at Slates. When I discovered that she was returning for another performance on Dec. 17 of this year, I had to reconnect and find out what’s been happening with this talented Mainer since our first chat. I called her number and connected with her as Stevens sat in JFK airport waiting for her flight to be announced. I began by asking if she was heading back to Maine.

Stevens: No, I’m heading to San Diego. I’m doing a tour up the West Coast for the next few weeks.

Q: Oh, I’m glad I caught you when I did.

Stevens: Yeah, I think this is going to be my last free night for a while.

Q: I take it this tour is musical in nature?

Stevens: Yeah, it’s with this original soundtrack music band that I sing with. I happen to sing for two original soundtrack music bands, funny enough. We’re acting as the opening band for this group called Pinback, which is like an indie rock band, but the band I’m with is Morricone Youth.

Q: Could you possibly give me a thumbnail of your bio to get me back up to speed?

Stevens: Well, I grew up in East Winthrop and I went to Kents Hill over there and then I moved to Boston for school. I went to Tufts for psychology and New England Conservatory for jazz performance. After I finished school about four years ago, I moved straight to New York and I’ve been here kind of hustling and singing. I’ve expanded into playing piano and now I do a lot of solo shows. I lead a band, that’s my main project, called Sami Stevens & The Man I Love. So, I’m in that band and the two soundtrack bands: Morricone Youth and Tredici Bacci. I do a lot of stuff outside of that and some R&B stuff here and there. I put out a record a year ago and I’m doing music full-time, probably touring like three or four months out of the year right now, and that’s it (chuckle).

Q: Thanks for the update, you certainly are very busy musically speaking. Now, when you come to Slates will it be one of those solo shows?

Stevens: I’m actually going to be performing duo with a good friend of mine, a Canadian guitar player named Steve Bilodeau. He’s a fantastic guitar player.

Q: What will you two be performing, music-wise?

Stevens: I want to do a bunch of Christmas music, so we’re doing songs from the Nat King Cole record, “The Magic of Christmas.” I just wanted to do it justice. I’m certainly not the pianist that Steve is a guitar player, so it’ll be better that way.

Q: Will you be doing keyboards?

Stevens: I’m not, no, I’ll just be singing — well, maybe I’ll have my keyboard.., but officially I’m just singing.

Q: Will there be any of your original material performed that evening?

Stevens: I’ll be doing a few of my original songs and then that Nat King Cole record. It’ll probably be half and half: my songs and then the Christmas songs. But I anticipate the arrangements will all be kind of similar, guitar and voice, I think it’ll flow together pretty well.

Q: And you have played Slates before.

Stevens: Yeah, I’ve played there the last couple of years, and I generally do it around Christmas just because I usually go home. The place is so close to where I grew up. Hallowell is a 25-minute drive from the house in which I grew up there in East Winthrop.

Q: Now, you said earlier that you have released an album since we last spoke?

Stevens: Yeah, I put out an album about a year ago and it’s out on vinyl. I’ll have copies of that for sale at the show. I put it out on vinyl through a small record label based here in Brooklyn called Leesta Vall Records. It’s called “And I’m Right” and it’s all songs I wrote for my band. It’s got kind of a soul/R&B vibe with modern production.

Q: Back to the Slates concert. Will you be performing the entire Nat King Cole Christmas album that night?

Stevens: We won’t be doing everything from it because it’s kind of a long record, but the reason for using that is it’s the Christmas record I grew up with. My parents would put that on every Christmas so I know the songs very well. I love those arrangements and I love Nat King Cole. Jazz is my home, that’s where I live, so he’s a perfect interpreter of those songs and melodies.

Q: Is there anything, Sami, that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?

Stevens: Just that this performance is going to be really intimate and really special and really personal for me, so they should come expecting a really warm, beautiful presentation. They should have high hopes because we’re going to deliver.

Lucky Clark has spent 49 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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