Steve Richards' musical journey has never been about labels. Even so, the sheer diversity of his accomplishments is impressive. A writer, singer, and entertainer of great versatility, he has built a resume that effortlessly spans styles and genres.
A dynamic performer, Steve has toured with rockers like Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Dickey Betts, and country greats Dierks Bentley, Montgomery Gentry, and Craig Morgan. “Stomp,” from his first album, ignited a line dance craze and became an interactive video game, while his “Bridge Back Home” became an anthem for the National Wrestling Alliance. Steve worked with both musical cross-pollinator John Rich and Kid Rock/Uncle Kracker producer Michael Bradford on his first album—which, to Steve’s surprise, found fans among the Christian music community.
It’s no surprise, that his latest album, Up To Somethin’, has appeal to music fans of every genre. Up To Somethin' features two radio debuts, “Eighty Acre Church”, which speaks to rural core American values, and “Invisible Hand,” with a big chorus and lush harmonies. Both songs show a distinct sound and an artist at the top of his game when it comes to turning intimate moments into universal truths.
“Up To Somethin' is a consistent album,” he says. “On the first album, I worked with two very fine producers, and that makes for two slightly different approaches. This time, I think the final release is much more cohesive.”
He worked with producer Phil O’Donnell, whose producing and songwriting credits include Craig Morgan, Justin Moore, Montgomery Gentry, and Clay Walker. The recording was done at Reba McEntire’s Starstruck Studios and at Nashville’s Legends Studio, where Waylon Jennings, The Highwaymen, and Jason Aldean among others, recorded.
Behind the passion and the versatility are a lifetime of devotion to music. Steve grew up listening to a combination of his parents' records and current radio hits, soaking up influences from across the board and the decades.
He was drawn to the best of the music of the '60s, from the Beatles and other British invasion bands to the folk/rock of Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul & Mary, and the soul of the Temptations and Stevie Wonder.
Discovering Gram Parsons's music was, he says, "really the turning point for me. It showed me that somebody I thought was pretty cool thought a lot of country songs I hadn't known about were also pretty cool." He became a fan of Waylon Jennings, Buck Owens, and especially Porter Wagoner.
Steve played in bands beginning in high school. As he performed in clubs and began recording, the word spread and he began earning opening slots for touring acts including Lynyrd Skynyrd. "All of a sudden," he says, "I went from playing honky-tonks to playing arenas."
Steve settled into Nashville and got the chance to work with Rich and Bradford, with whom he wrote seven of the songs on his first album—a project that opened unexpected doors into the Christian marketplace.
"I never looked to be a Christian artist," he says, but he was readily embraced. Steve Richard reflected his country and rock influences, but "Make It Into Heaven" soared to #3 on Power Source's Christian Country Top 100 and earned him a nomination for Song of the Year at the 2009 Inspirational Country Music Awards and a win in the Best New Artist category. The follow-up, "Never Leave You Behind," went Top 15, firming up his reputation as a singer and songwriter of the first order and heightening anticipation for his follow-up CD.
Working with O’Donnell on Up To Somethin’ is especially gratifying. "He knows what a hit song is and what a hit record is," says Steve. "He's written and produced a lot of them."
Although he is a first-rate writer, Steve was content with just two co-written songs on this project. "Both because of the hits we've had and how well respected Phil is," he says, "I had access to the most amazing songs and there was no way I was going to pass them up."
A dedicated family man, Steve lives in St. Louis, MO, with his wife, Rachelle, and his three-year-old daughter, Marion. He is also someone committed to giving back. His Goodwill Radio Tour raised funds for local and national charities, including Toys For Tots, the National Cancer Society and the Salvation Army. Still, his biggest contribution to the world is his music.
"The positive response we're getting is exciting and gratifying," he says. "I realized a long time ago that the most important thing a songwriter or singer can do is reach people. I'm very grateful to be connecting with so many people, and I'm excited to be carrying that forward."