Campus News

Broadway’s Ty Stephens to headline Medgar Evers College Jazz Dinner

By David Gil de Rubio  |

“To thine own self be true.” Originally written by William Shakespeare, this is the singular piece of advice award-winning singer-songwriter/dancer Ty Stephens offers to young performers. 

As someone who has appeared on Broadway and myriad spaces around the world, it’s what the Philadelphia native will be doing when he performs with his band on March 25 at the Annual Black and Women History Jazz Dinner. His quintet’s versatility will be on full display for this special event.

“We’ve worked with all kinds of crowds and cultures, so we know how to entertain a multitude of audiences,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be an enjoyable evening with a variety of music. We play everything from R&B and jazz to pop and international culture music and Latin music.”

Stephens’ creative path has found him doing everything from cutting his teeth on the Great White Way during the original run of Sophisticated Ladies whose featured performers included Gregory Hines, Phyllis Hines and Duke Ellington’s only son Mercer to touring the world with iconic Civil rights trailblazer/entertainer Harry Belafonte. A Temple University alum, Stephens started out as an art major whose life took a significantly different turn.

“My mom enrolled me in a summer program called the Philadelphia Youth Theater at Society Hill Playhouse,” he recalled. “That was my first formal introduction to being on stage and being in a play. I of course didn’t know what I was doing. I was supposed to learn lines and be an understudy. But the experience stayed with me and is part of the reason I moved on to New York and continued the process because I loved what I was doing and I met such great people. You vibe with folks that are on the same page as you and that’s part of what happened. I met some great people that I know to this day.”

That openness to change and working outside of your comfort zone is what has enabled Stephens to have experiences that range from being the featured entertainment for the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Annual Martin Luther King Scholarship Gala for six years running to touring Japan eight separate times.  It’s a mindset he tries to impart to aspiring young performers, particularly when it comes to performing live.

“The key is to let it happen through you versus trying to manipulate everything,” he said. “That’s one of the things I have learned as a performer. Try to be as fluid as possible. I’ll forget a lyric and it’s not the end of the world. The main thing is to have the audience in there with you so no matter what you do, they’re going to support you and go where you’re going to go. You steer the ship and they will follow.”