Steven Santoro, born Steven Kowalczyk, from Massachusetts, eventually took on the name of his saxophonist grandfather, Libertore Santoro. Steven picked up the horn as well. Although he loved playing Big Band charts like Count Basie's "Queen Bee", he truly found his gift at the piano writing songs. Steven's musical passions led him to the University of Massachusetts to study Afro-American Music and Jazz with Dr. Horace Boyer. While learning to sing and improvise on the Jazz classics, he naturally began to mix the standard with the contemporary. His own voice began to emerge.
Steven's ability to fuse Jazz and popular music is what years later, in Los Angeles, caught the ears of Ahmet Ertegun. Mr. Ertegun, the legendary founder of Atlantic Records, teamed up with Shane Keister, to produce Steven’s first album. “Moods and Grooves” was released worldwide, and rose to #1 on Jazz FM Radio in the United Kingdom and #20 on Jazz radio at home. On the road tour that ensued, his Quintet opened for FOURPLAY (Bob James, Nathan East, Lee Ritenour, Harvey Mason). Later, Steven played to his own audiences in London’s West End.
Moving from Los Angeles to NYC, Steven expanded into the city’s vibrant music scene. He played the clubs but also worked as a studio session singer, lending his voice to many national and international advertising campaigns. Kate McGarry asked Steven to produce and arrange for her “Show Me” project. The CD and Ms. McGarry found success on the Palmetto label.
The New York Observer wrote, “He’s a wildly accomplished performer with a soulful intensity and movie-star sex appeal. [He] takes risks and lands on his feet every time.”
While in NYC, Steven, now Santoro, began recording and hitting with some of the heaviest players in town, including James Genus, Clarence Penn, Nathaniel Townsley, John Cowherd and Marc Ciprut. As his own producer, Steven Santoro recorded the albums, "Soul Of The Night", ”Where I Come From" and ”Whisper My Name”.
The New York Post said of Steven, “A Knockout – He radiates an appealing sense of joy.”
Years later, Sting needed four background singers for his, “A Winter’s Night - Live From Durham Cathedral" special (BBC/PBS). Steven was happy to be included in the amazing group of world-class musicians assembled for the event. After working on a project with acclaimed pianist, Mitchell Forman, the deeply talented Jazz veteran asked Steven to appear on his duets album entitled, "Sing Along With Mitch.” Together they reinterpreted Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes,” and Cat Steven’s “Peace Train.” The Thirty Tigers Label invited Steven to arrange and perform a cut on its "Song of America" release. He and artists including Take 6, John Mellencamp, Black Crowes and Andy Bey, re-invent American songs that span two Centuries. Steven is the lyricist for "Ivory Joe Cole," A musical work-shopped under the direction of Tony award winning director, Kenny Leon.
An Associate Professor at the famed Berklee College of Music, Steven continues to expand his artistry and work with musicians from all over the world. His latest album, “And I Will Love You is yet, unreleased. Look for his “Alive From the Attic” series online soon.
The Thrill Is Gone - Alive In The Attic
I've Been Thinking - live in the studio
I could float away - live in the studio
I could float away
and I will love you - live in the studio
and I will love you
Producing Kate McGarry CD - Show Me
I'll Be Here
Run Away Live At Berklee
I Love You More - live in the studio