Steve Grand (musician)
|Also known as||Steve Chatham, Steve Starchild|
February 28, 1990 [|
|Genres||Pop, rock, country, Crossover|
|Instruments||Vocals, piano, guitar|
Steve Grand (born 1990) is an American musician and singer-songwriter from Lemont, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. He became an overnight internet celebrity and was acclaimed by some to be the first openly gay male country musician to attract mainstream attention in the United States. The music video of his first hit "All-American Boy" went viral on YouTube in less than a week in July 2013. This attention landed Grand on “Good Morning America,” CNN and other national media. Buzzfeed ranked the video on its list of the “24 Most Brilliant Music Videos from 2013,” and Out magazine named Grand to its annual “Out100” list of the year’s most compelling LGBT people. In addition to being a musician, Grand has become an active figure in the LGBT equality movement.
Grand started writing music when he was 11 years old. By age 13, he had come to the realization that he was gay and struggled to gain acceptance of his sexuality within his Catholic family and faith. He came out to friends starting in eighth grade. When his parents learned of his homosexuality, they encouraged him to seek counseling that would last five years. While some have called his therapy conversion therapy, he has not. In an interview with Michael Musto of Out.com, Grand said: “I want to make it clear that it’s been misrepresented that I went through what most people know as conversion therapy. I saw a Christian therapist who, among many other beliefs, believed I’d be happier in a straight life. He didn’t shame me for being gay. Most of the focus, we weren’t even talking about my sexuality. But certainly his belief that I’d be living a happier life as a heterosexual was indeed harmful. In no way, shape, or form ... do I condone ex-gay therapy. I think it’s a horrible practice. There’s no scientific basis for it. A person’s sexuality is a part of who they are. And I certainly suffered for not having my sexuality affirmed.”
After graduating from Lemont High School, Grand attended Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, for a year. He then returned to Chicago to enroll at the University of Illinois and later left to focus on his musical career. Grand cites a wide range of musical influences, including: The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Billy Joel, Blink‐182, Green Day, Taking Back Sunday, Brand New and Fall Out Boy. Grand told QVegas: “But it was Dad who got me started. He would listen to a song and tell stories about what each song meant to him: where he was in life, who he was dating, what car he was driving. He made me realize the lasting power of music -- how a great song can take you back to the moment you first heard it. From that point on, I knew that’s what I wanted to do in life, create something so real and beautiful that it stays with its listener forever.”
Prior to launching his musical career, Grand modeled under a number of pseudonyms; he was a cover model for Australia's DNA magazine in 2011. He played piano at four Chicago-area churches and at various clubs in Chicago, most notably The Joynt in downtown Chicago, until 2013. He also performed cover songs, including hits by Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, One Direction and Journey, and uploaded these to YouTube. However, Grand wanted to release original music.
On July 2, 2013, Grand uploaded a music video for his song "All-American Boy" to YouTube—producing it himself at a cost of US$7,000. The video almost immediately went viral. Just eight days later, All-American Boy had more than 1 million views—and has almost 2.8 million today. The song, set against a backdrop of country roads, an American flag and friends around a campfire, tells the story of unrequited love between two men. Grand recorded the vocals in his parents’ basement and maxed out his credit card to self-fund the groundbreaking video. The video was directed and edited by award-winning Chicago filmmaker Jason Knade.
Although Grand has received mostly positive reaction to the song, some gay activists have criticized its content, with one stating that its message is that "Gay men drink too much, feel sorry for themselves, and come on to straight dudes when their girlfriends aren't around." Writing for Slate, J. Bryan Lowder had an even harsher take on the video, describing it as "woefully out-of-tune with the times. It's like something out of a homo smut story from before Stonewall", and adding "this particular narrative of the tantalizing straight guy and lovesick queen is so hackneyed in gay culture as to be laughable." Grand has said that he appreciates different perspectives regarding his work. In an interview with The New Civil Rights Movement, he also said: “When I made that video, I did not set out to make any statements about gay people other than what we share in common with our straight brothers and sisters — that sometimes you love someone you can’t have. I know that especially rings true for gay people who grow up in a heterosexual world.”
Some media have also claimed that Grand is the first openly gay male country singer to exist at all, although this has been disputed. Grand does not claim to be the first of his kind, and often talks with praise about the trailblazers who have come before him. Several gay male country musicians have toured gay bars and other venues for decades, beginning with Patrick Haggerty's band Lavender Country in 1972, and two months before Grand's video hit, The New York Times profiled openly gay singer/songwriter Shane McAnally, who has had charted songs as a vocalist in the past and is currently one of the most successful songwriters in the industry. Other openly gay or bisexual male vocalists who have had successful careers in the country music industry as songwriters or musicians have included Jimbeau Hinson, Drake Jensen, Mark Weigle, Brian Glenn, and Shane Stevens.
Openly lesbian country star Chely Wright lauded Grand as “brave” in remarks to Michael Musto of Out.com, saying: “This is uncharted territory, as you know. I came out after having been in the business for years. He’s trying to get into the business.”
On September 6, 2013, Grand released "Stay"—the follow-up single to “All-American Boy.” This second video, also directed by Jason Knade, has since surpassed 700,000 views on Grand’s official YouTube channel. Both of Grand’s singles are available for download on iTunes and Amazon and streaming on Spotify.
On December 31, 2013, Grand stated on his Facebook page that his debut album is set to release in spring.
On February 26, he released the song and music video for his third single "Back to California."
In addition to being a singer-songwriter and performer, Grand has become an active figure in the LGBT equality movement. In 2013, the same year in which he appeared on Out magazine’s “Out100” list of prominent LGBT people, he also appeared on Instinct Magazine’s cover as one of its “Leading Men.” Grand has performed at Pride events around the nation — and has partnered with The Human Rights Campaign, The Anti-Violence Project, Bailey House, the GLSEN Respect Awards, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates and the March on Springfield for Marriage Equality. He has appeared at events alongside prominent guests such as Mariah Carey, Wentworth Miller, Jim Parsons, Perez Hilton, and Charli XCX, among others. Grand has received mention and support from other openly gay national figures such as *NSYNC’s Lance Bass, Chely Wright, Elton John and Edie Windsor.
He has also started a Kickstarter campaign to fund his first album "All-American Boy." The monetary goal has already been reached and the album is planned to be released in May., 
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