Steele is originally from Gary, Indiana, though she has lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for many years. She originally migrated to the Twin Cities to become a criminal lawyer, although music and stage would eventually become her destined paths. In addition to her successful solo career, Steele is a member of the acclaimed family gospel group The Steeles along with her sister, Jearlyn Steele, and three brothers. Jevetta Steele is married and is a mother to three children.
In 1985, Steele landed the lead role of Ismene in the touring show, The Gospel at Colonus. She went on to appear in productions of Smokey Joe's Cafe, Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope, Ain't Misbehavin', Crowns, and Double Infidelities. She recently composed the musical Two Queens, One Castle, which opened to rave reviews.
Bob Telson, the composer of The Gospel at Colonus used Jevetta Steele as a singer for different soundtracks he worked on. A collaboration with Telson has become her most well-known lead vocal performance, on the 1988 Telson-penned song "Calling You" from the movie soundtrack of Bagdad Café. The song was nominated for an Academy Award. The song was released as Steele's debut single and became a big airplay hit around Europe, as well as achieving top 10 positions in Sweden and in France, where she was especially successful. The success in France led to a recording contract there and in 1989 she released a follow-up single, again produced by Telson, titled "I Will Remember", which failed to chart.
Starting in 1988, Steele, on her own or with her singing family group The Steeles, became a very much in-demand session singer. It was through those sessions that she met Prince and his associates, and worked closely with him providing vocals on his records and the artists he produced from the period 1989-1995.
At the same time as these sessions, Steele worked on her debut album, Here It Is. Primarily recorded at Paisley Park and produced by Tommy LiPuma and Ricky Peterson, the album was first released in France in 1991. Steele's debut album included her hit "Calling You", and also featured two Prince-written songs, and a cover of "Say A Little Prayer For You" which was released as the first single.
The album remained only released in France until Columbia Records picked it up for worldwide distribution in 1993. The international release, however, only retained 5 songs from the original French issue, and added 5 new others. That same year, Steele's group The Steeles released their debut album Heaven Help Us All.
She has recorded and toured with Prince, George Clinton, 10,000 Maniacs, and Mavis Staples. She appeared on the album Memorial Beach, recorded by the Norwegian group a-ha, performing backing vocals on the songs "Lie Down in Darkness" and "Move to Memphis". Her most recent album is a 2006 collection of original and classic jazz selections called My Heart.
- 1988: Jevetta Steele
- 1993: Here It Is
- 2006: My Heart
- 1988: "Calling You"
- 1989: "I Will Remember"
- 1991: "Say A Little Prayer For You"
- 1993: "Hold Me
- 1999: "Calling You" (remix) (with Christian Falk)