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Stephanie Braganza: Redefining Contemporary Musical Ideologies Through Activism & Hard Work

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Stephanie Braganza Musician

People underestimate the non-stop effort it takes to become successful in the music business, ultimately, unless you have a mentality that allows you to push through the punches and dodge the adversity, you won’t succeed. Stephanie Braganza is an example of someone that made it through to see true success. Stephanie is a powerhouse vocalist whose performances helped her win a Toronto Independent Music Award for Best Live Artist. The vocalist has performed in a wide array of settings throughout her career, including a private event at the Art Gallery of Ontario which was attended by former president George W. Bush, and at the MuchMusic Video Awards with Belly and Ginuwine. Stephanie’s music video “When We Last Kissed” ft. ‘Prince of Goa’ rapper Drega, was directed by former pop star and current rocker Skye Sweetnam. Despite these accomplishments, she never lets it get to her head, always striving to better herself and give back to the people that helped lead her on the way to the top.

Stephanie is a huge proponent in helping others! She’s an outspoken animal rights activist, shown by her latest music video; “Chains of Silence” which won two 2017 Global Music awards for “Best Female Vocalist” and “Best Music Video,” and has received support from Tony Kanal (No Doubt) and PETA. In celebration of Canada’s South Asian Heritage Month, Stephanie was listed in CBC Music’s top “10 South Asian–Canadian Artists You Need to Hear Right Now”. Another highlight for Stephanie, was her participation in successfully breaking a Guinness World Record for the “World’s Longest Concert.” The notoriety and attention these events brought her was obviously great publicity and assisted in making her rise to the top slightly easier.

We had the privilege of interviewing Stephanie Braganza and started by asking how it all began. We obviously know the Stephanie of today in 2022, but how hard was it to get to where she is today? Many aspiring musicians want to know just that.

Stephanie says, “Hearing strong female artists like Ella Fitzgerald and Whitney Houston really opened my mind to music being a possibility for me as I was growing up. I was in a concert band playing clarinet and jazz band playing tenor saxophone in high school. I also took private piano and singing lessons. But it wasn’t until after I formally studied jazz vocals at Humber College that music became a profession. Outside of school, I organized a top 40’s band and performed R&B, pop and rock at bars, parties and weddings.”

Stephanie Braganza Musician

Arguably in many ways, the most enjoyable part of her early years was diving into music any chance she could, but of course, even as a musician, you’re essentially your own business and there was a lot to learn along the way. Stephanie says, “This is where school really began for me. I knew I was technically skilled but learning the business side of the music industry was a whole different story. I was booking the gigs, negotiating the pay, paying my team, and overseeing the promotion. It was a bit overwhelming at first and there were a bunch of obstacles at that time with stigma being a POC woman. Everyone always looked to my male band mates as the leaders and were surprised when they met me. I had to bite my tongue and be patient many times dealing with racism/sexism in the early days to survive. This really hardened my skin and set me apart from my colleagues in school who were mainly just focused on performing and not on the business side of things.”

“Cover bands are fun, but eventually I started creating my own sound with my co-writer and good friend Kolin Stürt. We used our music as the foundation in our originals. The improv helped me experiment and come up with ideas, the sophisticated licks instilled a complexity into the song structures and influence from some of my favourite artists, from Michael Jackson to Bjork helped give me my own voice.” says Stephanie.

Undoubtedly the past few years have radically changed the landscape of the music business. Stephanie says, “Right now, I feel like a renaissance is re-emerging. The pandemic forced us into isolation and changed the way I have been performing from live to virtual. I’ve been part of many virtual concerts like Rise Up — Mississauga’s Concert of Hope, a show of solidarity with front line and essential workers soldiering on for us through this pandemic. Mercy for Animals Voices of Compassion Concert, inspiring hope and connection while spreading awareness about the need to create a kinder future for farmed animals. As well as Hazel A Celebration: 100 Years in The Making, Hosted by Mississauga’s Mayor Bonnie Crombie, the Mississauga’s arts community came together to celebrate former Mississauga Mayor, Hazel McCallion on her 100th birthday. This 100-minute musical documentary was viewed by an estimated 45,000 viewers online.”

Furthermore, “Most recently I am excited about the TD Music Connected Series, the series is presented by TD Music, and curated by Canada’s Music Incubator (CMI) — a national not-for-profit organization. I’m grateful to Demetrius Nath from Mississauga Music for giving me this opportunity. The series turns the spotlight on Chinese and South Asian talent and I’m excited to be one of the performances aired from a unique mix of established and emerging artists from across Canada. My performance, which aired February 4th, is the first show since the pandemic started that let me bring my band back together. As silly as it sounds, hearing us playing live and looking to each other for cues once again was exhilarating.” says Stephanie.

 

 

“I spent more time telling my story behind the music during this time in a short documentary called “Driven to Create,” a film telling the stories of driven artistic South Asian women. It’s an honour to be featured and talk about my journey alongside talented and powerful women such as filmmaker Shazia Javed, visual artist Khaula Mazhar, and actor/playwright Jasmine Sawant. Look out for “Driven to Create,” directed by Angela Chao. It will be premiering at film festivals across North America later this year.” she says.

In the music business, it’s essential to have a special flare to set you apart from your peers. For Stephanie, it was a unique combination of qualities that set her and her music apart. Stephanie says, “Fusing activism into my music has both made me stand out and brought me hardship along the way sometimes. There are few prominent vegan musicians that are professionally trained and are outspoken in the community. Being an entrepreneur and working exclusively in the music industry has forced me to wear many hats and try many different events. It’s so satisfying to be able to stand in front of a live audience and perform my original material and spread awareness about the absolute unnecessary suffering and killing of farmed animals. Participating in animal activism inspired the lyrics and video to my song “Chains of Silence.” I wasn’t born vegan; I found my way there, thanks to other activists. I hope to inspire others to do the same.”

Stephanie says, “I must mention that I endorse the Climate Save Movement’s Plant-Based Treaty, and I encourage everyone to explore and endorse it as well. The Treaty’s initiative is a grassroots campaign designed to put food systems at the forefront of combating the climate crisis. The Plant-Based Treaty aims to halt the widespread degradation of critical ecosystems caused by animal agriculture and to promote a shift to healthier, sustainable plant-based diets,” says Stephanie.

“Hip Hop artists, Jermaine Dupri, Will.i.am, and KRS-One, are a few of many who know the impact that going on a plant-based diet has. Wu-Tang Klan’s GZA has also made a strong stance about wanting people to be more educated about plant-based eating. There is a powerful song by Jedi Mind Trick’s Vinnie Paz titled “Making a Killing’’ that covers the horrors of the animal agricultural industry very well.” she says. “As for myself, I just hope to be the lighthouse for some people to think about it. There are so few avenues that expose us to the truth of the animal agriculture industry. Not a lot of people know the full truth of the industry because of years of misinformation.”

Making a name for yourself doesn’t happen overnight, what do you think ultimately led to getting to the level you’re currently at in your career? What particularly do you think resulted in your success? Stephanie says, “A lot of attention to detail. I am a bit of a perfectionist and have always strived to put out the best quality music, artwork, message, and performances. Being surrounded by talented musicians made me try harder. 

You’ve undoubtedly accomplished a lot, what do you think are some of the highlights you’d like the world to know? Stephanie says, I’ve had the opportunity to perform at some top festivals like Indie Music Week, DesiFest, Mosaic Music Festival and the Toronto, Kingston, and Durham VegFest, as well as some notable venues like Casino Rama, Casino Niagara, The Mod Club, The Canadian National Exhibition Center, Mississauga’s Celebration Square and Yonge & Dundas Square. Some other successes are television appearances, like Rogers TV ‘Daytime,’ ‘South Asian Focus,’ ‘TV-ONE Canada,’ V-MIX TV, to name a few. Performing for a former POTUS as well as performing with Belly and Ginuwine at the MuchMusic Video Awards were both a once in a lifetime opportunity.

I asked, what would you tell someone just starting out in the music business today? Stephanie says, “There is no “free gig” or “opportunity for exposure,” in the beginning. Instead of paying to play, spend that money on your own music video, developing your album art. Invest in yourself and share your work on social media whenever you can. Above all, be careful with how much you tolerate from others, you’re teaching them how to treat you.”

Down the line, what are your biggest dreams and aspirations when it comes to building the ultimate dream and reality for yourself? Stephanie says I am hard at work on my next album and am really excited about this one. It will be a lot more personal, vulnerable, and real to me. I feel like I am ready to share my full story with the world and not just make what I think people want to hear. My next album will explore the experiences that made me who I am today.”

“I will also be talking about what is important to me and tackling critical issues. I want to inspire change and provoke thought as well as create melodically pleasing songs. One thing that I always admired about early rap records like Run DMC, was how politically charged they were. The music wasn’t just for entertainment but to tell their story, sometimes a bleak story of their reality. If it wasn’t for those records, do you think BLM would have happened? We are living in a time of more transparency in the information age. I know we are not close to where we need to be, but I am hopeful that with more artists speaking from their hearts, kids are growing up learning more and change is inevitable.”

Here’s a few highlights of things Stephanie Braganza has coming down the pipeline!

For more information, you can follow Stephanie on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook and Twitter, and find her music on all digital music retailers and streaming sites!

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Christien Bouc is a 7 figure agency owner who specializes in social media growth and monetization. With over 20,000+ members in his mastermind Facebook group, Christien and his team are on a mission to help influencers and companies scale their online business!

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