Becca Stevens & Attacca Quartet | Artists | GroundUP Music

Becca Stevens & Attacca Quartet

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featuring...
Becca Stevens Vocals
Amy Schroeder Violin
Domenic Salerni Violin
Nathan Schram Viola
Andrew Yee Cello

Becca Stevens & Attacca Quartet Bio

Nearly a decade ago, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and 2021 GRAMMY® nominee Becca Stevens was approached with an intriguing concept: to reimagine a selection of her songs with string arrangements for a performance at San Diego’s illustrious Mainly Mozart Festival. Little did she know, it would be a life-changing opportunity—introducing her to her future husband, the acclaimed violist, composer, and member of the GRAMMY® Award-winning Attacca Quartet, Nathan Schram. The concert would also inspire a career-spanning passion project—one which blossomed alongside her relationship with Nathan and resulted in the couple’s first collaborative album, Becca Stevens | Attacca Quartet.

The story begins in 2013, when pianist, composer, and conductor Steven Prutsman proposed the live appearance to the Brooklyn-based artist. In collaboration with Becca’s father, composer William Stevens, they arranged material from her first two albums: 2008’s Tea Bye Sea and 2011’s Weightless. The following summer, as the festival approached, they enlisted string players from the heralded Decoda ensemble, including Nathan. There was an immediate connection between the two musicians, but it would be another year before they met again, in a serendipitous twist of fate.

In 2015, months after releasing her third album, Perfect Animal, Becca traveled to her hometown of Winston-Salem, NC, where her brother—producer, engineer, and composer Bill Stevens—was set to record the string arrangements at his studio, Ovation Sound. This time, the stars were aligned for Becca and Nathan. While those early recordings were never released, they set the stage for Becca Stevens | Attacca Quartet and ignited a romance between the two musicians, who married in 2017.

After that magical week in North Carolina, Becca and Nathan’s careers continued to flourish.

In addition to joining the Attacca Quartet, Nathan performed alongside such artists as James Blake, David Byrne, and Itzhak Perlman. He also stayed busy with his non-profit organization, Musicambia, which cultivates music education programs in prisons and jails throughout the country. Becca, meanwhile, recorded her fourth solo album, Regina (2017), while expanding her creative partnerships. In 2016, she formed Tillery—a trio with Rebecca Martin and Gretchen Parlato, with whom she released a self-titled debut. That same year, she performed with the GRAMMY®-winning ensemble Snarky Puppy on their album, Family Dinner—Volume Two, and began working with the legendary singer-songwriter, David Crosby. After co-writing for and appearing on Lighthouse (2016) and Sky Trails (2017), Becca became a member of Crosby’s Lighthouse Band, alongside Michael League and Michelle Willis. The group released an acclaimed LP, Here If You Listen, in 2018.

Amid their busy schedules, however, Nathan and Becca still had unfinished business. The couple returned to Bill’s studio in December 2018, but this time, they were joined by Nathan’s Attacca bandmates: cellist Andrew Yee and violinists Amy Schroeder and Keiko Tokunaga (whose seat is now filled by Domenic Salerni). Hailed for their stylistic versatility, the quartet was the perfect foil for Becca, who had long explored a wide range of genres—from folk and jazz to funk and pop. With more than a decade’s worth of music to choose from, the breadth of Becca’s capabilities was more palpable than ever, and the members of Attacca were ready for the challenge.

The album’s tracklist honors the project’s origins while reflecting Becca’s development as an artist. Among the earliest arrangements are “Canyon Dust,” “No More,” and “Traveler’s Blessing,” all of which were performed at the 2014 festival. The latter song, which closes Becca Stevens | Attacca Quartet, originally appeared on Weightless and is inspired by an Irish blessing that Becca and her siblings frequently sang as children with their family’s band, the Tune Mammals. Over the years, the Appalachian-tinged song has become a staple at Becca’s live shows.

Becca also incorporated newer compositions including the stunning “We Knew Love,” off Regina, a song inspired by the reputed romance between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. “I Am No Artist,” meanwhile, is one of several tracks on the album set to the poetry of Jane Tyson Clement—a longtime muse of Becca’s. The poet’s words are also featured in “105,” “Tillery,” and “For You the Night Is Still,” the last of which marks Becca’s first arrangement for a string quartet. “I used my voice a lot, singing lines for each instrument before committing them to paper,” recalls Becca, who recently revisited the lilting composition in 2021’s Becca Stevens & The Secret Trio. Nathan and his bandmates marveled at his wife’s unique yet organic style. “The arrangement just sounded so natural,” he says. “Ultimately, string players just want to sing through their instruments.”

The epic “Tillery,” which intertwines Clement’s words with Becca’s, pays tribute to the artist’s late friend, Kenya Tillery. “She was an incredible woman, musician, and composer who had an irresistible lust for life,” she shares. “Kenya was an inspiration to me in so many ways.” Becca chose her friend and collaborator, Timo Andres, to arrange the song. “There’s a journey that happens in ‘Tillery.’ It starts from a period of mourning, but by the end, it’s a high-energy celebration. Timo captures that transformation perfectly.”

Becca also enlisted her longtime bandmate, Liam Robinson, to arrange “Be Still,” a song from Perfect Animal. “Liam has a deep understanding of the song and all of its moving parts, which is reflected beautifully in his work,” she raves. For Regina’s “Venus,” Attacca introduced Becca to composer Michael Ippolito, with whom they had collaborated on their 2017 album, Songlines. “Michael created an intricate version of the song with so many active, nuanced parts,” notes Nathan. “It’s brilliantly constructed.”

Rounding out Becca Stevens | Attacca Quartet are two cover songs: Radiohead’s “2+2=5” and Little Dragon’s “Klapp Klapp.” The second selection, in particular, showcases Attacca’s ingenuity, as they deliver an inspired interpretation of the highly-percussive electronic track. “Figuring out what strings can do beyond just playing notes is something that Attacca has always been excited about,” shares Nathan. “We’re constantly trying to see how far we can go.”

While Becca Stevens | Attacca Quartet is inextricably tied to the couple’s relationship, the Stevens family also played a vital role in the project. “My father was integral to the process of making this record from the beginning,” says Becca. Beyond his arrangements, William was also the project’s biggest cheerleader, keeping everyone on track inside and outside of the studio. Becca’s brother Bill, too, shaped the album as an arranger, engineer, and co-producer. “Bill is a rare production voice,” explains Becca. “He’s well-versed in classical music, but he also has a deep understanding of jazz, soul, rock, and R&B.”

Since the recording of Becca Stevens | Attacca Quartet, much has transpired. Among the highlights are Becca’s first GRAMMY® nod (2020’s WONDERBLOOM) and Attacca’s first GRAMMY® win (2019’s Orange). Nathan also released a solo debut, Oak and the Ghost, while Becca earned praise for her latest record, Becca Stevens & The Secret Trio. The quartet, meanwhile, continues to push their creative boundaries—particularly with their latest record, Real Life, which finds them further exploring the work of electronic artists.

Now, with the release of Becca Stevens | Attacca Quartet, the couple embarks on a new journey together. Yet the album also closes a chapter for Becca. Rarely does an artist get the opportunity to examine—and reimagine—their work quite as intensely as Becca has over the past decade. “It’s very satisfying to see that a song still works, years after writing it,” she reflects. “I think that growth is a beautiful aspect of this project. We are realizing these songs in a different light and bringing a brand-new energy to them.”

“But I’m also passionate about this collaboration because it’s my love story with my husband,” she adds. “To stand on stage with Nathan and Attacca and to play songs that span the entirety of my recorded career is an incredibly fulfilling experience.”

Music

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Becca Stevens | Attacca Quartet (2022)

Nearly a decade ago, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and 2021 GRAMMY® nominee Becca Stevens was approached with an intriguing concept: to reimagine a selection of her songs with string arrangements for a performance at San Diego’s illustrious Mainly Mozart Festival. Little did she know, it would be a life-changing opportunity—introducing her to her future husband, the acclaimed violist, composer, and member of the GRAMMY® Award-winning Attacca Quartet, Nathan Schram. The concert would also inspire a career-spanning passion project—one which blossomed alongside her relationship with Nathan and resulted in the couple’s first collaborative album, Becca Stevens | Attacca Quartet.

Now, with the release of Becca Stevens | Attacca Quartet, the couple embarks on a new journey together. Yet the album also closes a chapter for Becca. Rarely does an artist get the opportunity to examine—and reimagine—their work quite as intensely as Becca has over the past decade. “It’s very satisfying to see that a song still works, years after writing it,” she reflects. “I think that growth is a beautiful aspect of this project. We are realizing these songs in a different light and bringing a brand-new energy to them.”

“But I’m also passionate about this collaboration because it’s my love story with my husband,” she adds. “To stand on stage with Nathan and Attacca and to play songs that span the entirety of my recorded career is an incredibly fulfilling experience.”

1 Be Still (arr. Liam Robinson)
2 Reminder (arr. Bill Stevens)
3 Canyon Dust (arr. Stephen Prutsman)
4 For You the Night Is Still (arr. Becca Stevens)
5 No More (arr. William Stevens)
6 Venus (arr. Michael Ippolito)
7 I Am No Artist (arr. Nathan Schram)
8 2 + 2 = 5 (arr. Nathan Schram)
9 45 Bucks (arr. William Stevens)
10 105 (arr. William Stevens)
11 Klapp Klapp (arr. Nathan Schram)
12 We Knew Love (arr. Bill Stevens)
13 Tillery (arr. Timo Andres)
14 Traveler's Blessing (arr. Stephen Prutsman)

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