Described as a “captivating storyteller” and “sensitive” player, Steph Davis (they/them) is a Boston based marimbist, arranger, composer, educator, cultural activist, and scholar of African American music. Their work engages improvisation, Black history and feminism, and critical consciousness as a means for uncovering truer historiographies and finding self actualization. Steph intentionally contributes to notions around Black aesthetics and uses imagination as a tool for decolonization and liberation.
A passionate performer and collaborator, Steph has performed solo recitals in U.S. and chamber music with noted artists and ensembles, including grammy-nominated flutist Nathalie Joachim, Mazz Swift, Michi Wianco, PaviElle French, Castle of Our Skins, New Gallery Concert Series, and Southern California Marimba. As an arranger, commissioner, and composer, Steph has contributed over 20 works by Black composers to the marimba's solo and chamber repertoire. They have premiered works by Avik Chari, Christa Duggan, Damien Geter, Alissa Voth, and Bilin Zheng. Steph is a Marimba One Artist.
As a composer, Steph's music draws inspiration from Black expressive characteristics, free forms, and natural landscapes. Their music has been performed internationally in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the United Arab Emirates. They have been commissioned by Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, Modern Marimba, Spectrum Ensemble, Prism Percussion, Britton-René Collins, and Cameron Denby.
Deeply passionate about Black music education, Steph is a teaching artist with Castle of our Skins and the Vice President of Modern Marimba. They have developed curricula about African American opera and spirituals, taught lectures about decolonization and spirituals, and held a teaching residency at Boston Children's Choir exploring historical, lyrical, and musical characteristics of spirituals.
Davis was awarded an ACTivate residency at Boston Center for the Arts, and collaborated on Hatched: Breaking Through the Silence, an award-winning public art project. They were a semifinalist in the Southern California Marimba International Artist Competition and a finalist in the Boston Conservatory Concerto Competition. They were awarded an Artist Fellowship with Music for Food and was an artist fellow at the ACF Experimental Institute.
Davis received their B.M. in percussion performance at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, where they are currently pursuing a M.M. in marimba performance. Additionally, they studied music composition, African American music and history, and music theory. Their primary teachers include Nancy Zeltsman (marimba) and Sam Solomon (percussion).