Tulsa musician named official artist at international folk conference

“My main reason for writing, is that music has always been this wondrous thing that carries with it hope,” said Casii Stephan.

TULSA, Okla. — Singer-songwriter, Casii Stephan, has been building her music career in Tulsa since 2014.

“It’s eight years now, which is wild but I didn’t expect to do music in Tulsa, it kind of happened. A friend encouraged me to start here and it’s just been a great experience and the music community is so welcoming here and there is a true wide variety of genres here that’s just inspiring to watch,” said Stephan, who is originally from Minnesota. “Since coming to Tulsa, I’ve met so many talented people here that have inspired and pushed me to be a better performer and songwriter. It’s been great to have been here in this city.”

Stephan has been invited to perform at the Folk Alliance International Conference as an official artist in Kansas City in Feb. of 2023.

In 2020, she attended the conference as an unofficial artist.

Stephan has also been nominated for multiple awards through USA Song Writing Competition and the Independent Music Awards. NPR recognized Casii Stephan as one of the “slingshot artists to watch in 2022.”

And then, of course, new music. Her song These Hard Days was written as a reflection of her time during the pandemic. Another song, Ghostships, was nominated for a Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Pop Song.

Ghostships was the analogy I used for the depression I was feeling,” said Stephan. “Just felt like I was trying to keep moving forward, but my sails and hull were coming apart.”

Stephan has been open about her struggles with depression as a teenager and says music gave her a sense of hope.

“I didn’t think I could write songs until a family friend said I should give it a try and it went from there. The dream began,” Stephan said. “It can be a concept, a lyric, or a melody. Whatever it is, I just follow it until the song is complete.”

When it comes to her own songs, like Trapeze Artist, These Hard Days and Trust Fall Stephan says she doesn’t have a favorite.

“I like them all for different reasons. They were the songs I needed to write in that space and time,” said Stephan.

There was always music in Stephan’s childhood. She says she grew up listening to musicals, and worship music.

“I didn’t start listening to rock and pop music until my early teens. So I love a bit of drama in my melody and songs,” said Stephan.

Stephan says Celine Dion, Rodgers & Hammerstein and the White Stripes have been her influences.

“White Stripes sacrifice perfection for emotion,” said Stephan.

The singer-songwriter says she relishes performing and sharing her musicality with each audience. She says connecting with people through her lyrics and music is, “one of the best feelings in the world.”

She won’t have to wait too long to perform. House Concerts Unlimited will have Stephan take to the stage for a live concert in west Tulsa, Nov. 19. She is aiming to raise money to cover her travel expenses to the Folk Alliance in Kansas City.

“I think in 2020 it was a 17% acceptance rate to get an official artist. So the fact that we got official artists this year is pretty amazing. We’re pretty proud of that,” said Stephan.

Stephan says she will continue to write and record her original music.

“My main reason for writing is that music has always been this wondrous thing that carries with it hope,” said Stephan.

She adds that listening to songs has always had the power to uplift her during dark times.

“I hope I can do that for others in my life with what I write,” said Stephan.