Born in Glasgow in the early 1970’s, Stephen was brought up on a steady diet of “proper grown up music” that emanated continuously from BBC Radio Scotland and Radio 2 in the 1970’s and 80’s. By his teens he was playing in several accomplished youth orchestras and bands, playing several musical instruments, including the tuba, and was set on becoming a classical singer. But instead of sitting in his bedroom listening to the pop music, Stephen was inspired by great jazz broadcasters Humphrey Lyttleton and Benny Green, and discovered the music that would develop into his life-long obsession with all things ‘jazz’.
After leaving school in 1989 he planned to go on and study music at the then Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), but his love of jazz put him at odds with the admissions policy of the day, so he studied drama instead. At the same time, Stephen was learning the tricks of the jazz trade in time honoured fashion by starting out on a gruelling series of gigs and residencies in piano bars, clubs, restaurants, ballrooms and jam sessions across Scotland. He also studied under saxophonist Tommy Smith and sang with the Strathclyde Youth Jazz Orchestra. His work with many fine local big bands made him an accomplished big band arranger, and a sought after accompanist for other vocalists. Today, he’s a modern artist rooted firmly in the jazz tradition, busy as a soloist, with his quartet or as a guest with some of the most accomplished big bands and jazz groups in the business, in particular the London Gay Big Band.
Stephen’s life-long love of radio brought him to the BBC in 1999, as part of the marketing and communications team of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. His natural ability as a presenter and knowledge and enthusiasm in all areas and styles of jazz brought him to the attention of the powers at be at BBC Radio Scotland, and Stephen is now following in the footsteps of his hero ‘Humph’, bringing his passion for good swinging music to listeners across Scotland and beyond. He can occasionally be heard being silly on the Fred MacAulay show, and contributing to tother programmes on Radio Scotland and Radio 3. He regularly brings his vocal talents to bear on voice-over projects, in particular the BBC Two series Talking Music. He contributes his musings on jazz and 20th century music to quality journals, is particularly chuffed with his debut album, the Jazz House’s Sony Radio Award nomination, and his natural ability to carry off a tweed suit. His hobbies include fitness training and ‘being nice.’