Steven Santoro, originally known as Steven Kowalczyk, grew up on the outskirts of Boston, Massachusetts. As a child, he began playing the saxophone and quickly fell in love with Big Band charts such as Count Basie’s “Queen Bee”. However, it wasn't until he discovered his passion for songwriting on the piano that he found his true gift. Steven pursued his love for music at the University of Massachusetts, where he studied Afro-American Music and Jazz under the guidance of Dr. Horace Boyer. Here, he honed his skills in singing and improvisation, blending the classics with his own contemporary flair. It was through this process that Steven's unique voice and style began to emerge.
Steven Santoro's talent for blending jazz and popular music caught the attention of Ahmet Ertegun while he was living in Los Angeles. Ertegun, the legendary founder of Atlantic Records, partnered with Shane Keister to produce Steven's debut album, "Moods and Grooves." The album was released worldwide and reached #1 on Jazz FM Radio in the United Kingdom and #20 on jazz radio in the US. The album features some of the most accomplished musicians of our time, including Carlos Vega, Joe Porcaro, Dean Parks, Lee Sklar, John Patitucci, Alan Broadbent, Greg Wells, Ray Brinker, Chuck Domanico, Chris Botti, and Emil Richards. Following the album's release, Steven embarked on a tour, opening for FOURPLAY (Bob James, Nathan East, Lee Ritenour, Harvey Mason). He later performed to his own audiences in London's West End.
After leaving Los Angeles, Steven moved to New York City to immerse himself in its vibrant music scene. He established himself as a respected club performer and a sought-after session singer for national and international advertising campaigns. Some of the brands he worked with include Olive Garden, NBC, CBS, Nick At Nite, and Canon. Notably, he produced and arranged Kate McGarry's successful "Show Me" album on the Palmetto label, which led to similar work with other contemporary vocalists. In recent years, he has expanded his jingle work to include clients in China, such as Panasonic.
During his time in NYC, Steven adopted the name Steven Santoro in honor of his grandfather, Liberatore Santoro. He collaborated with some of the top musicians in town, including James Genus, Clarence Penn, Jon Cowherd, Marc Ciprut, Nathan Childers, Kate McGarry, and modern dance composer Peter Jones. He recorded with them and still performs with some of them today, cementing his reputation as a versatile and highly skilled musician.
Steven's creative journey has been full of diverse experiences. He was invited to be the lyricist for the musical "Ivory Joe Cole," which was directed by Tony award-winner Kenny Leon. Although the show never made it to opening night, the process was a valuable learning opportunity. Steven's musical talents can also be heard on the Thirty Tigers Label's "Song of America" release, where he arranged and performed a cut alongside Take 6, John Mellencamp, Black Crowes, and Andy Bey. As a producer, Steven has released several albums including "Soul Of The Night," "Where I Come From," and "Whisper My Name," which resonated with his audience. Steven has created four more albums since. “Where I Come From”, “And I Will Love You”, “Deep In August” and his newest song cycle (yet unreleased) for voice and string quartet entitled, “here.gone.” featuring the amazing Turtle Island Quartet.
Steven had the honor of singing background vocals on Sting's BBC special, "A Winter's Night - Live From Durham Cathedral" which aired on both BBC and PBS. As a part of the ensemble, he had the pleasure of working with a talented group of world-class musicians who were handpicked for the event.
After collaborating with Jazz veteran Mitchell Forman on a project, Steven was asked to appear on Forman's duet album, "Sing Along With Mitch." They teamed up to reinterpret Billy Joel's "And So It Goes" and Cat Stevens' "Peace Train." In return, Steven invited Forman to play on two tracks of his album "Deep In August."
As a distinguished professor at the renowned Berklee College of Music, Steven remains committed to exploring new horizons and collaborating with musicians worldwide. In addition to teaching in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Athens, Prince Edward Island, and in Rome. There he was invited to present three live workshops streamed worldwide at The Tour Music Festival, Europe’s largest music competition. During one such event, onstage, Steven guided the transformation of a band’s new song. The audience and the band were wowed by his arranging ideas and creative sensitivity.
Steven has made significant contributions to music education, having taught at Berklee College of Music for over twenty years. In addition, he created a new online course called "Vocal Production Techniques for Singers" for Berklee Online. The course is designed to teach both vocal and instrumental recording techniques, and provides valuable insights on how to work with modern Digital Audio Workstations. It empowers vocalists to take control of their music and their workflow.
In addition to making music, Steven has a passion for working in every aspect of short film making. With three short films already produced, some of which have been recognized by film festivals, as well as various other commissioned video work, Steven loves the medium for its creative potential and is eagerly anticipating his next project.
Since 2017, Steven has been touring extensively throughout Germany, Austria, and Prague with a group of talented musicians including Walter Fischbacher, Petr Dvorsky, Ulf Stricker, and Alex Bernath. Alongside beloved Jazz standards, Steven performs his own original songs that showcase his unique style and musicality. From intimate venues to festival stages, Steven continues to captivate audiences with his heartfelt performances and dynamic stage presence.
Besides his passion for singing, writing, producing, arranging, teaching, and touring, Steven enjoys a deep connection with his longtime partner, the unrequited love of his indifferent cat, and the weird vibe of their 200-year-old farmhouse in Western Massachusetts.