Photo courtesy of Steph Johnson

She's a soul-jazz singer/songwriter with a big voice, an even bigger smile and one of the biggest hearts in the local music scene.

In her 30s, Steph Johnson gave up a career in banking and made the leap into making music full-time. Her second CD (Mysterious Feminine) won a San Diego Music Award for "Best Jazz Record," and her fourth and latest album of original compositions, Music Is Art, was produced by Grammy-winner Kamau Kenyatta. She stays busy with local gigs and also tours with bassist/partner Rob Thorsen.

Along with keeping up with a music career, Johnson stays active in social issues, and has performed on behalf of causes such as disability rights and homelessness. Just check out her Facebook page to see how motivated she is about the plight of San Diegans who sleep out on the street. She laments encampment sweeps by the police and poor treatment for the mentally ill and veterans, among other issues.

One beautiful effort Johnson put forth was the creation of a Voices of Our City Community Choir. It's for people experiencing homelessness, as well as those who care about that community. The choir practices on Friday afternoons at the Living Water Church in East Village.

Johnson envisions this choir someday onstage "playing a great performance that could give this issue a face and a human quality."

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