Steven Kowalczyk Santoro
Singer. Songwriter. Arranger. Producer.
Steven Santoro (born Steven Kowalczyk) is originally from Massachusetts. Having grown up in a musical family, he started playing the horn at a very young age. 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 where he studied Afro-American Music and Jazz with Dr. Horace Boyer. While learning to sing and improvise on the jazz classics, he began to mix the standards with his own contemporary flair and thus his own voice and style started 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” which was released worldwide, and rose to #1 on Jazz FM Radio in the United Kingdom and #20 on Jazz radio at home. A tour ensued, and 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, worked as a studio session singer, lending his voice to many national and international advertising campaigns and found success producing and arranging music for artists including Kate McGarry who asked Steven to produce and arrange for her “Show Me” CD project, which found success on the Palmetto label.
While in NYC Steven became known as Steven Santoro, to honor his saxophonist grandfather, Liberatore Santoro, who had played such an influential role in Steven’s life and music. During this time Steven started relationships with and began playing and recording with some of the heaviest players in town, many of whom he still plays with today, including James Genus, Clarence Penn, Jon Cowherd, Marc Ciprut, Nathan Childers, Bob James, Nathan East, Greg Wells, Ray Brinker, Lee Ritenour, Harvey Mason, Mitchell Forman, Alan Broadbeach, Carlos Vega, Joe Porcaro, Dean Parkers, Lee Sklar, John Patitucci, Chuck Domanico, Emil Richards, Paula Cole, Chris Botti and Kate McGerry.
Among his many notable achievements, Steven is the lyricist for “Ivory Joe Cole”, a musical workshopped under the direction of Tony award winning director, Kenny Leon. He can also be heard on the Thirty Tigers Label where he was invited 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. As his own producer, Steven recorded the albums, "Soul Of The Night", ”Where I Come From" and ”Whisper My Name”, all of which were wildly accepted by his audience.
Steven was the male background singer for Sting’s U.K. tour “A Winter’s Night - Live From Durham Cathedral” special (BBC/PBS) and was happy to work with an 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.” Mitch can also be heard playing on Steven’s newest album, “Deep In August”, released in March of 2017.
As a professor at the famed Berklee College of Music, Steven continues to expand his artistry and work with musicians from all over the world. In March of 2018, he will begin his 3rd tour throughout Germany, Austria, and Prague.
When not singing, writing, producing, arranging, teaching or touring, Steven enjoys the beauty and peacefulness of his 200 year old farmhouse in Northampton, MA.
Steven Santoro's voice caresses the soul. [His] songs are the perfect fusion of contemporary jazz and popular music, coupled with technique, style, spirit and originality. - Vienna Cultural Club
As arranger/producer, All About Jazz writes, “Renowned Arranger Steven Santoro [has] a feel for mood, time and place [making] every turn of phrase feel right at home. His arrangements highlight organic attractions of love and personal expression, and with a translucence of effect that allows any listener’s interpretations to glow through.”
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.”
The New York Post said of Steven, “A Knockout – He radiates an appealing sense of joy.”
In Coburg Germany, the Neue Presse writes "His voice pulls you in from the very first moment." and "He either lets his voice soar through great melodic lines or whispers his desire into the microphone in a way that lets the audience fully feel the emotion."[read more]
"With impeccable intonation and phrasing, his voice navigates through various genres, is pliable, expressive, soft and emphatic without ever losing its natural sound. Santoro is a high caliber performer" [read more] - Intermezzo-Konzerte, Horst Engels
Jochen Berger of the Colburger Tageblatt writes "Standards like "The Thrill is gone" meet Santoro's own, often ballad-esk tinged pieces, which are included on the new CD "Deep in August". Especially the title song proves that Santoro as a composer also has the ability to write pieces with hit potential. Santoro's voice with its velvety soft timbre is wonderfully supple and versatile." [read more]