June 5, 2020 Interview – Sayonne
With a rich art background, Sayonne is a performer ready to explode into the mainstream. A musical theater star, Sayonne, born Stephanie Ann Courtney, has earned praised for her powerhouse voice and stunning live performances. Featured in stage productions of Dreamgirls, Sister Act, Hairspray, Alice in Wonderland, Anything Goes, Ragtime, plus more, a few years ago she opted to concentrate on her own artistry.
A mix of R&B and Pop, she has since released her debut EP 2 Worlds in 2019, turned heads with several singles, and now looks to kick off the summer of 2020 right with “Hot Sauce.” An intelligent woman with a passionate vision, Sayonne recently sat down to chat about her love for performing, new music, plus a whole lot more.
Cryptic Rock – Entertainment has been a very important part of your life. Involved in it professionally for some time in theater and music, how would you describe your career to this point?
Sayonne – I would describe my career as a sailboat of artistry because the ocean is big. I’ve done everything you could possibly do when it comes to music, singing, dancing, and performing. Like you mentioned, I have a theatrical background, so I have traveled doing shows. I have merged that with my individual artistry; putting on my own concerts, plus writing/recording new material. It’s a whole big ocean and I am the boat sailing away!
Cryptic Rock – It is great you have been able to be so diverse. You have done quite a bit of theater. At what point did you decide you wanted to branch out and try yourself in Pop music?
Sayonne – The thing is, I did start with singing first. Singing was my first love, I started singing around the age of 3, and around 9, I realized it was my passion. I then picked up instruments such as the alto saxophone and piano. I was then introduced to the world of theater around 15 years old, and that is when those doors started to open up for me. I fell in love with that world and it helped me become really disciplined. I would say that is when I spread my wings into the theatrical world and have been doing musicals ever since.
Of course I did take a little break. Around a year or two ago I decided I needed to step away from the live show I was doing, which was Sister Act, to focus on my own individual artistry. The thing about the theatrical world is you become so consumed with what the show entails. You are constantly in character for however long touring, traveling, etc. You don’t really have much time to focus on your own individual creativity. That is why I decided to step away, just for a little bit, to focus on my individual creativity. When I say that, I am talking about my 2 Worlds EP that I released in May of 2019. I also have new music now including “Hot Sauce” and other songs.
Cryptic Rock – That is exciting. For those who are not familiar with your music, how would you describe it?
Sayonne – My music is a nice blend between R&B, Pop, and a little bit of fusion because I do have a Caribbean background; both my parents are from the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. A lot of my music somehow has that influence of that Caribbean heritage, but, my core is R&B and Pop.
Cryptic Rock – It is an interesting mix. You have the 2 Worlds EP out, you recently released the single “Hot Sauce,” and you have a new album coming out in 2020.
Sayonne – That is correct. The album is untitled right now. Of course with everything that’s going on right now, we did put that on a pause, but it will be released on the later end of this year. “Hot Sauce” is the kick off to that album series. I’ve been sharing on my Instagram and Facebook little sneak-peaks of the upcoming songs such as “Thirsty,” “Boyfriend Material,” and “Tic-Tac-Toe.” I share it with my fans and supporters so they know what to expect is coming.
Cryptic Rock – That sounds like a good plan. You have attained success with your prior singles, and music videos too. So, will there be a music video for “Hot Sauce”?
Sayonne – There will be a music video for “Hot Sauce,” but of course that will be released at a later date. It’s going to be airing on my YouTube channel. It will also be released on my website where I will be informing people regularly when I will be releasing these things.
Cryptic Rock – Great! You have a few music videos out already which are very colorful and visual. That is something we all need right now with everything going on in the world.
Sayonne – Absolutely. I’m so grateful that my music and music videos have received a lot of support. I think that is especially the case with for my 2 Worlds EP, which is so relevant, because we are literally living in two worlds right now. A lot of us are quarantined, some of us are on the front lines saving lives. Songs like “2 Worlds (Remember)” are resurfacing. People are reaching out to me saying how it’s so relative right now. They are telling me how it helps them find peace, calm, and stability with everything going on.
Then you have “Hot Sauce,” which is the fun track. It’s edgy, bouncy, and it’s a summer track. That provides joy and is uplifting for those who in sorrow right now.
Cryptic Rock – Most certainly. The music video for “2 Worlds (Remember)” is quite powerful too.
Sayonne – That music video was a nod to people who paved the way in the music and entertainment world. It was only right for me to salute those icons and legends. Not only have they contributed to the music industry, but they have contributed to society with either their activism, voice, or artistry. I had to honor some of those icons because those are people who I drew inspiration from. They paved the way for me, they broke down barriers for me. As an upcoming artist, I have to respect the people who came before me.
Cryptic Rock – It is important to honor history and the pioneers who came before. That in mind, what are some artists which have directly inspired you?
Sayonne – Let’s just say the people who have inspired me artist-wise are Whitney Houston, Brian McKnight, Mariah Carey, and Brandy. Those are my old school artists.
For the newer school artists, I would say Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Sam Smith, Adele, Bruno Mars. They are bringing back real artistry and bring back the core foundation of the craft of music. For a little while, music was getting lost in today’s industry. Artists weren’t as musically inclined the same way they were back in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. A lot of things had become very electronic and digitalized. We have people in the new school, like I mentioned, who are spearheading the return of real musicianship, artistry, and real music. I look up to those artists.
Cryptic Rock – You are right and it is refreshing to see stronger musicality cycling back around. You mentioned you are releasing some song snippets here and there. That said, are there any tracks from the forthcoming album that perhaps see you collaborating with others?
Sayonne – Well there will be a bonus feature, but I’m not at liberty to say what yet. I’m not sure if we will actually add it to the first release of the album. There will be some surprises with the album though and I can’t wait to share it! Everyone has to stay tuned.
Cryptic Rock – That is something to look forward to as well. You have the album coming out, the single “Hot Sauce” out now, and you have your theater career. Have you considered getting involved in film and television more?
Sayonne – Absolutely. I had dabbled in the film/TV world, but for some reason as an artist, it’s so much more fulfilling when you lay everything on the stage. I come from the world of singing on the stage, so it was easier for me to transition into the musical theater realm, compared to film which is strict acting. With the theatrical world, I get to use all of my tools – my voice, my dance ability, and my acting. With film, I do enjoy doing some projects here and there, but it’s not as fulfilling as my musical theater background.
Cryptic Rock – Understandable. It must be even more fulfilling to perform your own music.
Sayonne – Yes! The thing is, when I do perform my own music, I’m giving a piece of myself to the listener. I’m leaving a piece of myself on the stage where I’m performing. It’s a connection between myself and the audience. That is something you can’t get from doing film.
It’s amazing performing my own work, because it is also a release of emotions for me. It reminds me of where my mind was and the emotion I was feeling when writing these songs. Finally getting to relive it by performing it is cathartic.
Cryptic Rock – You sound quite passionate about it all. You come from a family of artists. Has your family been supportive of your artistic endeavors?
Sayonne – My family has been supportive from day one. I’m very thankfully for them being that way because I know this is not typically the career path parents want their children to go into; it is a hard industry to break into and is very demanding. I’m thankful they understood my vision and understood me as an individual. At an early age, they held my hand and supplied me with all the tools I needed to be the artist I am today.
Even to this day, they are still very present, they are my core and my foundation. I lean on them and I do draw inspiration from them, especially when I’m writing. They also do have creative input when it comes to my business and artistry. They supported me when I started my own label, 5 Bars Records, and that is where all my music is released. It’s very nice to have that backbone of family supporting and driving me forward.
Cryptic Rock – That is really wonderful. A family support system is so important with anything in life.
Sayonne – Yes. I know a lot of people, especially artists, do not have a strong support system. But a support system doesn’t necessarily always have to be your own family, it can just be a community of people who are there for you and understand where you want to go.
Cryptic Rock – Agreed completely. Last question. If you are a fan of Sci-Fi and Horror films, do you have any favorites?
Sayonne – To be absolutely honest, I’m a scaredy-cat. (Laughs) Those things are at the back of my list. For some reasons, even when people say, “It’s just a movie,” in my head everything is real; I have nightmares and can’t sleep. I do have family members who absolutely love both Sci-Fi and Horror, but I’m cringing in the chair while they watch those things because I know I won’t get any sleep that night. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) Horror is not for everyone. Do you have any favorite films in general?
Sayonne – Yes. I love artsy movies such as Dreamgirls (2006), A Star Is Born (2018), Chicago (2002), etc. I just love those kind of movies because it is similar to what I do day to day and I can learn a lot from the experiences portrayed on screen. I love seeing the growth and development of artists on screen and watching the storytelling of how people become who they are.