The Path from Piano to Promise
The evangelical evolution of musician and minister, Rick Stephenson
The Path - If your music career started in a 1974 Chevy El Camino, would you admit it? You would if you were singer-songwriter Rick Stephenson! For Rick, the El Camino is a meaningful symbol in his life. In Spanish, El Camino means “The Path” and it is Rick’s path that has led him through a transformation into a musical minister. He is now on a mission to spread the message of God’s promises using his talents. Today, Rick remains on this path from piano to promise, in an evangelical evolution as musician and minister.
El Camino - Rick Stephenson was born in Libertyville, Illinois and raised in Rockford, Illinois. His journey into music began at the age of eight during a ride in his family’s Chevy. He explains, “I vividly remember sitting on the seat of that big old El Camino. As I was tapping my fingers along to the car stereo, my mom suddenly turned and suggested that my fingers needed piano lessons.” Soon after, his parents enrolled him in piano lessons and Rick began his travels down “El Camino.”
A Church Mouse - Rick’s mother and father were very religious. Rick would tag along as they attended daily church services and when they practiced in the choir. It was the exposure to church music that had a massive influence on young Rick. “I remember my dad telling me that I sang too quiet, like a church mouse,” Stephenson continues, “so I would keep singing louder until everyone could hear me.” This theme of singing loud enough to be heard by everyone in the church would later be important for him. Rick would eventually realize that he could deliver a message to a large group of people through his music. However, he still had miles to travel on his path.
A Budding Songwriter - Throughout his teenage years, Rick continued piano lessons and began songwriting. “I hated lessons and playing classical music, but I loved learning chords and scales, as well as trying out new sounds,” explains Rick. Deeply inspired by the pop sounds of the 1980s, Stephenson would lay awake at night with his Sony Walkman. The sounds of Top 40 radio and bands such as Journey, REO Speedwagon and Styx mesmerized him. By his late teens Rick was a budding songwriter who had developed the ability to compose rich, melodic compositions.
Twists and Turns - After high school, Rick remained very much involved with music while attending a community college. He was active in choir, theatre, and performed with music review troops. After leaving for a four year college, his parents recommended a traditional field of study. His choice was to be an accountant, like his father. From the age of nineteen to twenty-eight, Rick was completely out of music. He landed a job that would take him around the world. However, these twists and turns in the path still had importance. It gave him the opportunity to see the world, and learn about people from all walks of life, and this would be important later for his ministry.
Back on the Path - In 1994, Rick had a rekindling of his spiritual faith and an awakening of his muses. While attending worship services by gospel artist Vicki Yohe, he had an epiphany. He began to comprehend what God wanted him to do with his life - be an instrument to spread God’s message. Rick became sure of his calling at a Morton Bustard Ministries event in 1995. It would be at this event that God made a promise to use Rick to minister to others. Rick recalled his ability as a “church mouse” and knew he could be heard - he was back on the path.
Musician and Minister - The years that followed allowed Rick to develop into a strong minister and worship leader as he soaked up the Bible and began to dive back into music. By 2002, Stephenson was taking his songwriting seriously and began to compose new material. In 2005 he started Living the Promise Ministries and in 2007, his own publishing company called N-Siteful Music to facilitate the release of his debut CD entitled Sanctuary of My Heart. The album examines one’s relationship with God. With pop sounds and eclectic styles, Stephenson’s debut is a unique blend of Christian music with a mainstream and pop style. The album has received many positive reviews for its uplifting and lively songs. Bev Moser of Music News Nashville wrote, "Each song on this project has a high-energy feel and an excitement of living life with the appreciation of Christ's guidance." Sanctuary of My Heart reveals Rick’s purpose in his music. He has now become both musician and minister.
The Promise - Rick’s goal is that people are blessed by God through his ministry and songwriting. He sees himself as an instrument of the Holy Spirit - a musical messenger to lead others to intimacy with God. Stephenson explains “I love to see how a particular song will touch or encourage someone in my audience. I then know that God has used me to reach them. That is an awesome experience and an incredible responsibility for me.” According to Rick, “we are all on a spiritual journey to discover God and His promises.” If so, it’s certainly a unique journey that Rick Stephenson has taken on “El Camino" – “the path” from piano to promise in a truly evangelical evolution.
Rick has recently won awards from SongDoor International Competition, Great Lakes Songwriting Contest, and Write About Jesus. He is currently in production on his second CD, The Reason, due to be released later in 2010.
For more information please visit: www.rickstephensonmusic.com