I am many things, a Writer, an LGBT Activist, a Foodie, and a Fan-boy, to name a few. Two of those converged in the Summer of 2013, when Steve Grand uploaded a music video to his song, “All-American Boy,” on YouTube, and it immediately went viral. My pride in all things positive in the LGBT Community, and my fan-boy instincts for a good-looking, young man, who was out and proud, converged, and I have happily followed along on his journey from afar, and it’s time to write a bit about it.
I remember shouting out the video on Twitter and Facebook when it was really starting to blow-up and was very excited for him, although I had never really heard of him before. It had over a million views on YouTube in just 8 days. The song and video brought instant celebrity, not only in the gay community, but mainstream media caught on early as well. He was labeled the first out, gay, country artist, a label he never really embraced, but when you are in a whirlwind of fame, he didn’t really have time to deny it either. He soon went on to raise one of the top 5 highest Kickstarter campaigns in the music categories history. Nearly 5,000 supporters, donated almost $327,000 to release an album on his own, without having to go through the tricky world of traditional music studios.
The new album dropped on March 24th of this year and was a huge success for in independent record. It debuted at 47 on Billboard’s top 200, 27 on the week’s top record sales, and number 3 on the week’s top independent records. These are impressive numbers for a debut album, especially a self(crowd)-funded one. Along with the albums release, has come the requisite rounds of promotion to keep the record selling, and the battle for an identity has been a topic of the conversation. Even as an independent, the industry and media are calling it the album from that out, gay, country artist. Aren’t labels strange?
It isn’t the first time that Steve Grand has had to try to explain his evolution. As it happens to all celebrities, gay and straight alike, as soon as Steve’s video went viral, the internet was deluged with search requests for this good-looking, muscular man, and as Internet trolls usually do, found images of Steve’s past that was just that, past. Shock among shocks, the handsome man with the body he obviously has worked hard on and sacrificed many a grilled cheese sandwich for, had done some modeling work. He has modeled underwear and taken some modeling photos. Leave it to our own LGBT Community to commence in eating our own, trying to make more out of persons past, when they are still learning who they are and what they can do in the world, than the young man he has become, and the musical talent he has been nurturing.
Now that he is promoting his new album, he is constantly having to explain his style of music. He is constantly being put into the country box, and that the album is him evolving into a more diverse artist. He was ALWAYS a diverse artist. If you use those same google searches, you will find other YouTube videos he has made under the name, “Steve Starchild,” where he covers the likes of Journey and Bruno Mars. Yes, the hit that made him a celebrity was country themed, but he has always claimed to be a singer/songwriter, and said it best when he says he prefers Americana songs that cover a wide spectrum.
I never donated to his Kickstarter, but I was one of the first to order the new album, and I was not disappointed. There are still some country, or what I call, “country-pop,” on such songs as ” “Whiskey Crime,” and “Stay,” but there was also a nice ballad in “Back to California,” and some heavy “pop-rocking” choices in “Say You Love Me,” “Next to Me,” and “Better Off.” I believe this good-looking man, with a talent for writing as well as performing music is part of a (R)evolution of artists that aren’t going to be pigeon-holed, and just love to write and sing.
Maybe there is another evolution in Steve Grand, or more. He already is mixing LGBT activism with his music, performing at fundraisers and Pride events across the country and Canada. At 25, he really does have the world ahead of him to conquer. Let’s give the man a bit of a break and try not to tear someone down immediately as his celebrity goes up. I know it’s an American past-time, but this All-American Boy deserves a little more respect in my humble opinion. Rock On Stranger Friend, (or Country On, Pop On, Jazz On, even Tibetan Chant On), whatever floats your boat Steve, but just keep on writing and singing your truth…………..Scott