By Sheena Barnett
SMITHVILLE – Stephen B. Steward has been working behind the scenes in gospel music for years, but now it’s his time to shine.
Steward, a Smithville native, will release his debut gospel record, “Enter Your Gates,” on Tuesday. Now based out of Altadena, California, Steward has been writing songs for years and working with gospel great Andre Crouch.
But his love for gospel music began in Mississippi.
“My mother had a voice, and she didn’t need a microphone. I was just fascinated with how bold these people were to belt out a song with the whole congregation,” he said in a phone interview from his home. “I’ve got about 350 songs right now. God gives me a song. I could be in my garden – I have a vegetable garden, I do the Mississippi thing here – and every time I’m there, if I listen to God, I can get a song.”
Steward waited until his kids were grown to work on his own gospel music instead of simply writing for other artists.
“I didn’t want to miss taking my kids to school, picking them up at school. I didn’t want to miss a PTA meeting. I was at basketball games, track meets. I coached them. I took them to church,” he said. “The album is just an invitation to God’s presence.”
The track “With My Whole Heart” was written with Crouch, and other tracks were inspired by his family. “I Sense Your Presence,” for example, was inspired by his daughter.
“God spoke to me and said, ‘If you listen to me, not just listen but hear me, I will give you a song a day for every day that you are alive,’ and I trembled in my boots,” Steward said. “The spirit just came over me, and I trembled in reverence.”
The singer-songwriter will perform on the Trinity Broadcasting Network two days after the CD release, and he hopes to return to Smithville to perform in the coming months.
He hopes audiences find a closer relationship to God with his album.
“I hope it speaks to the heart of people, and speaks to their circumstances, whether it’s sickness or challenges or addictions or unforgiveness,” he said. “We all belong in his presence.”