Steven Sedalia (pronounced Seh-dal-yuh) is a singer-songwriter forging a fusion sound that can be described as alternative folk rock, island roots, devotional world music, or on a full moon night, jungle jam. His style is summery and uplifting, yet there is a sincerity in the songs that shares something deeper.
Raised in North Carolina and growing up outside, as a young child Steven fell in love with nature. This affection would later become crucial in his songwriting style. Always a lover of language and writing, Sedalia discovered in his late teenage years how singing his poetry amplified its effect. Though a college heartbreak led him to songwriting, in it he discovered his soul’s passion, and a budding desire to share it. But there was a problem: Gut wrenching social anxiety and panic related to stage performance had plagued him throughout his life. Determined to beat his anxieties, Steven began to learn techniques to train his body not to respond with fear in crowd settings. The rowdy 20 year old performed social stunts to intentionally embarrass himself in public, like howling in busy street sidewalks, or facing the opposite way in an elevator, or breaking out in chaotic dance in busy college halls, all to teach his body how to stay calm in front of an audience. The person who emerged on the other side of this practice is from where his name, Sedalia, comes. When asked about it, he says, “the name Sedalia is a moniker I gave to myself that represents the most vulnerable, anxiety-free, colorful version of me. Sort of like an alter ego! but more so an ideal to embody in freedom of personality and expression, a symbol for growth and evolution. It felt like through the name, I could give myself permission to be who I really am.”
Still sinking into his reborn identity, Sedalia left the lands that had raised him, the Appalachian mountains, and travelled across sea and ground to make home in Hawaiʻi. Simply with a few dollars, a guitar, and a tried and true hat, he landed on an organic farm on the island of Kauaʻi, where he began to cultivate the gardens and dig deeper into his music. Sedalia’s artistic development was guided by mystical spiritual traditions from around the world, most notably those from India and Nepal, Hawaiʻi, and nature-based religions. Most naturally a writer of love songs, his lyrical themes blend earthen imagery with personal love, mysticism, and universal love.
After writing sixty songs in six months themed around exploration of the soul, praise of the mystery, and the ever present beauty of the islands, he began to hear the larger story written in them; and so the seed of Mauna was planted. The title for the 14 song album, Mauna (released Oct. 2nd, 2019), is a word that in Hawaiian means mountain, and in Sanskrit, means silence. Recorded on the north shore of Kauaʻi, the songs spread across a vast, diverse scenery, including an opening haku mele (original composition in the Hawaiian language) with island instrumentation, trumpet-ified blues roots earth anthems, banjo foot stompers, gospel choir hints, wispy flutes in between sweet harmonies, Sanskrit devotional influences, and simple love songs. The album is all glued together by folk rock musicality, Sedalia’s passionate vocals, and messages of love, awe, longing, and adventure.
Listeners will recognize in the music flavors akin to the likes of conscious roots artists such as Nahko Bear, Trevor Hall, Xavier Rudd, and folk Americana artists such as The Avett Brothers and Neil Young.
Having toured across the U.S., playing shows and festivals, sharing the stage with some of the artists mentioned above, as well as Mike Love, Dustin Thomas, Paul Izak, and others, Steven is carving out his niche in the roots revival musical community. Recent live shows have carried Sedalia all around, including performances at festivals such as UNIFY Fest, Flow Fest Hawaiʻi, Homegrown Music Fest, Gathering of the People, and a West Coast tour, etc. Touring solo, or with his full band of organic farmer musicians, the live performance pumps with high energy and shares the gift of unflinching compassion imbued in songs of praise, journey, and wonder. Carrying the aloha spirit, Sedalia’s songs are a breath of fresh air.