One of the best parts about building my business from its inception is having the ability to highlight and interview some incredible people. Stephanie Braganza is one of those people. She is dynamic, influential and a powerhouse of a vocalist whose performances lead her to win the Toronto Independent Music Award for Best Live Artist.
Stephanie has performed in various settings, including private events at the Art Gallery of Ontario which had in its attendance former President George W. Bush, at the MuchMusic Video Awards with Ginuwine and Belly, and in Canada’s “Flower City” Brampton, she performed in Monster Rock Orchestra on the same bill as Sumo Cyco’s Skye Sweetnam (who also directed Stephanie’s music video “When We Last Kissed ft. Drega.)”
Her influence and talent serve to inspire others like her hoping to achieve what she has in the music industry so far. Which is exactly why we’re interviewing her today!
Furthermore, Stephanie Braganza is breaking new ground in terms of diversity in the music industry and her fight for animal rights through activism in her popular award-winning music video “Chains of Silence”. You’ve got to check it out, it’s a sci-fi rock masterpiece.
In celebration of Canada’s South Asian Heritage Month, Stephanie was listed in CBC Music’s top “10 South Asian–Canadian Artists You Need to Hear Right Now” and they weren’t wrong.
A huge highlight in 2017 for Stephanie, was her participation in successfully breaking a Guinness World Record for the “World’s Longest Concert.” She was perfect for the job due to her versatility as a vocalist and her huge catalogue of material that she can adapt on the fly to audiences.
Far from another pretty face, she’s an outspoken animal rights activist, the music video; “Chains of Silence” we mentioned earlier has won two Global Music Awards for “Best Female Vocalist” and “Best Music Video,” and has received tremendous support internationally with fans as well as industry professionals like No Doubt’s Tony Kanal and PETA.
The pandemic has clearly changed the way we all live, function, commute, and enjoy music. Stephanie has adapted by doing numerous virtual concerts. To name a few, one with Bollywood Monster Mashup, the “Largest South Asian Festival in Canada” alongside Bollywood icons Sunny Leone, The Meet Bros and Arjuna Harjai, and another one celebrating the 100th birthday of former Mayor of Mississauga Hazel McCallion, which had a slew of renowned celebrities/politicians, such as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Don Cherry, and the current Mayor of Mississauga, to name a few.
Through this and consistent efforts to perfect her craft over the years, it’s safe to say she’s garnered a lot of admiration and respect from her fans, the community she performs for and the causes she fights for.
We had the chance to ask Stephanie a little more about her background and what led to her career in music. Why does one do what they do?
Stephanie replied, “I always loved music, I took piano lessons from the age of 9, and music has been a pillar of strength for me ever since. I was the band geek in high school and dabbled in a few musicals as well. No band camp, lol! My music journey really began after graduating from Humber College’s renowned music program.
I started performing in Top 40s and wedding bands at first and I freelanced from there. It wasn’t long until I started working on my original music making a name for myself in the city, and other parts of the world. After I created enough songs, I released a full album and went on a tour to support it. Social media, PR, and managers helped me to build my online presence along the way so I could put my focus on the art.
Stephanie was born and raised in Kingston, Ontario. She says that “There wasn’t a huge music scene there, which is why I decided to stay in Toronto after graduating.” At the time, she was exploring all sorts of genres of music, but jazz stuck out: “I was really into jazz and performing because of the freedom to improvise and have fun with the music.
Jazz helped me discover more of my capabilities as a musician. After moving to Toronto, I met a lot of musicians along the way and promptly started performing at bars and clubs, and so many weddings. I fronted and led my own cover band, Replay, while also joining a few other bands to keep my skills sharp.”
After Stephanie released her debut album called “Unexpected,” she toured to promote it and quickly started producing music videos. She says that one of the best parts about it was being able to “Share the messages I felt were important through music.” She says that the “Sound and style evolved with me which led to gaining notoriety both nationally and internationally.
I chose this path because music has been an anchor in this world for me and something that I wanted to share with the world.” she says. “Some people just sing in the shower, I was singing in the grocery store, humming on the bus and listening for melodies where other people didn’t hear them.” Stephanie uses music as a pure way to express herself and share her gift with the world.
We asked her what she felt made her different or stick out in her industry and she explained that she’s a “Professional Vegan musician (performed at all the major vegan festivals in Ontario) and influencer, a BIPOC band leader with versatile style, can sing Pop, Country, Rock, RnB and Jazz seamlessly, demonstrating a full spectrum of her vocal endurance.”
Behind every successful entrepreneur or musician, there are qualities in their character that lead to their success in the long run no matter how much they may have struggled along the way. Through Stephanie’s hard work, rejection, perseverance, constant performing and marketing costs, she still managed to persevere. She could not get enough of music so she would teach music by day and perform music by night.
We talked to her about some of her biggest obstacles. What were the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them? What keeps you running when times get tough?
“The “Chains of Silence’’ music video stirred up a lot of controversies, costing me sponsorships and visibility in the mainstream media. When you have one of the most popular anti-dairy songs out and the Milk Industry buys a lot of ads it puts pressure on the media companies to not play the song. Making music with a moral also alienated me from more traditional markets. The support I received for my pop albums was always very enthusiastic, but I had to work hard to get the same press for Chains of Silence.
What kept me going was wanting to share the importance of the message even if it cost me. Chains was an era for me. I wanted to put a message in my music, and people are not going to respond the same as my previous music. Even though I may have lost some support, I gained more support from others. One of the things that keep me going now is even though I can’t share as many performances as I could before, I can still talk to my audience on the importance of the message behind the music.”
Stephanie explains that growing up, “Music was never a priority in my household, and I wasn’t supported by my family when they found out I wanted to make a career of it. I treated every music class, session, or rehearsal as my last because I lived in constant fear that my parents would cut off funding for music school, and not even let me go back with the money I saved myself. Even with all the obstacles, when I created music, it took me to another place that made me feel like home.”
Stephanie has also dealt with untrustworthy management at one point. “I wasted a lot of money on management that didn’t hold up to their claims on what they could do for me. I cut ties when they wanted me to sign a contract that stated that they would get a cut of all income through music, which included gigs I got for myself and even from teaching. Always read contracts thoroughly before signing” she warns.
“The experience of making music with other people is different now, we have all been doing what we can to survive, I’ve done some virtual concerts and performances. What I’ve lacked/missed is performing with others and collaborating together.
Teaching has helped me and has been a blessing as it almost bridged the gap, because working with my students really keeps the communal part of sharing music alive. Teaching has allowed me to play music in real-time with others and encourage others to follow their musical ambitions. This is a way to still create fun music daily.” Stephanie explains.
We asked, “What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?”
Stephanie explains that “The best piece of advice I can give is to understand there is the creative side of making music, then there is the performance and entertainment side but more importantly there is the business and marketing side of the industry.
You must explore and choose if you want to do it all or focus and sharpen a specific category. Music school helps to make you a better musician, and yet talent is not enough to prepare you for this industry. You need contacts, passion, thick skin and you need to be able to roll with the punches without letting yourself get knocked down for long periods.”
In the next few years, Stephanie has so many big plans for her music career and personal brand. We asked “Where do you see yourself and your product in a couple of years? What are some of your dreams and aspirations?”
It’s hard to picture a future without music in my life, from the first time I sang or picked up an instrument it always felt like I was discovering more about myself with each passing melody. Today as I look towards my plans for the next few years, I think about how I can continue to use the name I have made for myself to help amplify the essential work being done by the front-line heroes in the animal save movement.
I want to be a voice for the billions of sentient beings that are being born into a life of suffering not of their choosing. Most people you ask will say they are an animal lover, yet we face such a disconnect from what happens to these animals outside our view. I feel that so many people don’t realize the health, environmental and most of all the suffering caused by something so prevalent in our society. It is more convenient to ignore the truth and consequence of our collective actions.
I wrote Chains of Silence as a plea for more understanding and from a place of frustration and anger. My goal is to use my music as a tool for social change, to help raise consciousness and most importantly compassion for the lives we take for granted.
Some Notable videos:
180,000 views → https://youtu.be/JxV53k5L2vI
126,000 → https://youtu.be/9Ng_cszNKuw
21,000 → https://youtu.be/GYibWPYQouI
13,000 → https://youtu.be/Fmkk3Pil1Do
11,000 → https://youtu.be/-9YApHpZgFc
Connect with Stephanie Braganza: