Described as a “captivating storyteller” Steph Davis (they/them/their) is a marimbist, arranger, composer, educator, cultural activist, and scholar of Black music. Their work engages improvisation, Black diasporic traditions, Black feminism, and critical consciousness as a means for uncovering truer historiographies and practicing individual and collective liberation.
Regarded for bringing "bright humanity and expressive depth" to performances (The Washington Post), Steph has presented solo marimba recitals and guest artist performances across the United States. Their repertoire spans a wide variety of musical styles, including African American folk, classical, post-modern, and contemporary, with a focus on composers of African descent. A passionate collaborator, they have performed chamber music with noted artists, ensembles, and organizations; including grammy-nominated flutist Nathalie Joachim, PaviElle French, Mazz Swift, Michi Wianco, Castle of Our Skins, and New Gallery Concert Series. 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, Pamela Z, 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, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, and Europe. They have been commissioned by Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, Modern Marimba, Spectrum Ensemble, Prism Percussion, Britton-René Collins, and Cameron Denby.
A passionate researcher on music of the African diaspora, Steph is a teaching artist with Castle of our Skins, a Black arts institution. As part of this role, they led a teaching residency at Boston Children's Chorus around spirituals and Harriet Tubman. Steph's scholarship on music by Anthony Davis and Ulysses Kay has appeared in publications by Castle of our Skins and Boston Conservatory at Berklee, respectively. Steph maintains a small private marimba studio and coaches chamber ensembles in Greater Boston.
Steph was awarded an ACTivate residency at Boston Center for the Arts, was a semifinalist in the Southern California Marimba International Artist Competition, and a finalist in the Boston Conservatory Concerto Competition. They have been awarded artist fellowships with the Antenna Cloud Farm Experimental Institute, a liberatory arts institution, and Music for Food, a music organization fighting food insecurity in various communities across the United States. Steph serves on the board of directors of Castle of our Skins and Modern Marimba.
Steph 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 history/music, and music theory. Their primary teachers include Nancy Zeltsman (marimba) and Sam Solomon (percussion).
Steph resides on land of the Massachusett people, also known as Boston, MA.
Short Bio (150 words)
Steph Davis is a marimbist, composer, educator, cultural activist, and researcher.
Steph has performed as a marimba and vibraphone soloist across the United States. Their repertoire spans a wide variety of musical styles, from African American folk to contemporary, with a focus on composers of African descent. They have premiered works by Pamela Z, Damien Geter, and Alissa Voth, among others. Equally versed in chamber music, Steph has performed with noted artists, including Grammy-nominated flutist Nathalie Joachim, Mazz Swift, PaviElle French, and Michi Wianco. Steph is a Marimba One Artist.
Steph was awarded an ACTivate residency at Boston Center for the Arts and was a finalist in the Boston Conservatory concerto competition. They have been awarded artist fellowships with the Antenna Cloud Farm Experimental Institute and Music for Food.
Steph received their B.M. from the Boston Conservatory, where they are currently pursuing a M.M. Their primary teacher is Nancy Zeltsman.