It’s not often that an independent artist makes it in the world of big labels, but country musician, Steve Richard, has beat the odds. The list of his accomplishments is long and just keeps growing:
He was named the Inspirational Country Music’s “New Artist of the Year” in 2009 and has been nominated for “Entertainer of the Year,” “Male Vocalist of the Year” and many more. The video for his song, “Love’s Gotta Go Somewhere”, won the award for “Video of the Year” at the 2012 ICM Awards, beating out some very well-known mainstream artists.
Steve’s latest single, “Keep On Rollin,'” has hit #1 on several music charts. His previously released single, “Toothbrush,” went to #1 on the Power Source charts and was in the Top 20 Music Row charts. It was also nominated for Music Video of the year at the 2013 ICM Awards. Steve and his duet partner, Laura Dodd, won the 2013 ICM Award for Best Vocal Duo/Vocal. Laura is also an independent artist and she, too, currently has a song on the charts. The Richard/Dodd duo plan to release a new song, “The Rock On Which I Stand,” early next year. You’ll be able to get a preview of the song when the Inspirational Country Music Awards, which took place October 24, 2013, is aired.
In September, Steve performed at Hope Fest AZ, a Celebrate Recovery event in Prescott, Arizona. This is the second year he has appeared at Hope Fest AZ. Last years event was rained out. That didn’t stop Steve and his guitar player, Tim Mauldin. They showed up at the meeting room of a local church where disappointed Hope Fest AZ volunteers were sharing a meal and gave them a private concert. “We came out here (Arizona) to play,” Steve told me. “We don’t need a stage to do that!” He said, laughing.
As it turned out, this year’s weather was perfect for 2013’s event, and it was clear that Steve’s faith is inextricably laced into his music as well as his life. His performance was high-energy, encouraging, fun and Christ-centered. He briefly talked about his recovery from drugs and alcohol, sharing with the audience that he was once a, “full-time addict and alcoholic,” and how Christ was his deliverance.
I talked to Steve at Hope Fest AZ, and have interviewed him on the phone a couple of times. We talked about a variety of subjects. Steve answered all of my questions, even the uncomfortable ones. I found Steve to be a bright, funny, humble and a very down-to-earth guy.
Steve comes from a rock and roll background. He toured with, and opened for, national acts like Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers. While touring with Lynard Skynard, He noticed that country music fit him better as an artist. Now, he splits his time between St. Louis, Nashville and his tour bus, recently touring with the country band, Lover Boy.
He met his wife, Rachelle, in Killeen, Texas when he was playing at Fort Hood. Rachelle was a model who was helping with Steve’s “street team.” Steve liked her energy. He said she was happy and he wanted to get to know her better. They’ve been married for nearly eight years and have a six-year-old daughter named Marion. When he talks about her, his “proud poppa” side beams through. He sees music playing a big part in his daughter’s life. She’s already developing as a singer and is learning to play the piano and drums.
I asked Steve to name some of the advantages and disadvantages of being on an independent record label. “There’s safety in numbers, being on a list with a bunch of other artists (big label). The problem is, you may be way down on the list. You might not be the priority.”
Steve continues,“Being on an independent label (Force MP Entertainment), I AM the priority.”
Another good point!
Steve said he simultaneously became a Christian and was delivered from drugs. I asked him what he meant by simultaneous, and he told me the story of his redemption. Here it is in Steve’s own words:
“In September of 1999, I was pretty heavily addicted to drugs. I’d quit drinking a few years before, because that was causing even more problems, but I couldn’t get off of drugs. I could find no way to get off drugs. I was despairing that I would ever be able to give them up.
I was in the studio. There were three other clients. Two were Christian ministries from large churches. Another was a jazz musician who was a Christian. I was being prompted by the Holy Spirit, although I didn’t know it at the time, to ask each of them about Jesus. I could see something in them. I didn’t know what it was. They professed Christ and had a relationship with him, but I didn’t understand. Over the course of a couple of weeks, I spoke to each of them. I don’t remember what we talked about. I wasn’t really in the frame mind to know what we were talking about. I remember thinking, ‘I don’t want to become a Jesus freak!’
About that time, one of the guys who worked for me told me I needed to go to rehab. I knew I didn’t need to do that. Maybe go to a health farm or something. I couldn’t get off drugs, but I wasn’t that bad! I found a treatment center and went to talk to them. They were ready to check me in right then! A couple of days later, I entered the treatment center. After the first week, they were going to keep my money and kick me out. I was still testing positive from drugs because I was sneaking them in.
I got up at 5:00 a.m. I hadn’t prayed since I was a little kid. I told God, on the way to the treatment center, I was going to throw away all the drugs and drug paraphernalia I had. I had picked a dumpster in an alley behind a restaurant. I prayed, ‘please, God, I’m trying to do the right thing, please don’t let me get arrested’.
I parked my car down the street, walked to the dumpster with a couple of bags and a box. I stuffed them into the dumpster and shoved them down way deep inside. Just as I got back to my car, overlooking the alley, there came a cop in a cruiser, driving down the alley. If he’d seen me, I’m sure he would have had a lot of questions for me! I could have been arrested. I felt like I truly had a communication with God. He had answered my prayers right there on that spot. I threw out the stuff, didn’t get arrested. It was close! That was September 16, 1999. I haven’t done drugs since then.
In the treatment center, I met a fellow, I don’t remember his name. I was coming off of drugs at the time. I remember he was big. He’d been given a full scholarship to play hockey from a university up north. While he was there, he became addicted to heroin and lost his scholarship. He was taking a mail-order ministry course. He had a pamphlet and was talking to me. A lot of people weren’t interested in talking to him, but I was. He asked me if I wanted to give my life to Christ. I said the sinner’s prayer with him.
I remember exactly where we were. It was outdoors at the treatment center. That continued my developing walk with the Lord. Also at the treatment center, I met a counselor, later I met her husband, who were Native American drug counselors. They’d go around to the reservations, particularly in the northeast where they have very bad problems. I had a bunch of sessions with her. She’d ask me, “do you want to give your life to the Lord and start living for Jesus?”
I remember telling her, “I’m afraid if I give my life to the Lord, he’ll make me a priest in Cambodia.”
She said, “I can’t tell you what God will or won’t do, but let me assure you of this: If God does make you a priest in Cambodia, you will be the happiest priest in Cambodia.”
Steve said he’s learning to live in God’s will and not his own, “which pretty much tried to kill me.” Now he goes to the Lord for everything. Steve talks to God like he would an earthly father, sharing his dreams and his aspirations. He tells the Lord what he’d like to see happen in his life. However, he recognizes what he wants might not be what God wants.
“I can honestly say, ‘if that’s not what you want for me, then I don’t want it.’ I only want what His will is for me because I know better, now.”
Obviously, God didn’t send Steve to Cambodia (at least not yet). So, until he is called to do otherwise, he plans to continue to bring inspiration to both secular and Christian audiences. If you’d like to know more about Steve Richard, visit his web site at http://www.steverichardmusic.com. He’s also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/steverichardmusic . Or, you might just see him at a Celebrate Recovery event near you, talking to people about his own recovery with people who need to hear his message of hope.