Stephanie Greaves takes centre stage

Stephanie Greaves takes centre stage

Victoria songstress is fueled by the music

  • Dec. 18, 2019 7:30 a.m.

– Story by Sean McIntyre Photography by Lia Crowe

Victoria songstress Stephanie Greaves won’t ever forget her first live stage appearance, and not only because she stole the show: she nearly became the subject of a missing persons investigation.

She and her parents were visiting family in England when they spontaneously popped in to watch a local talent competition in Great Yarmouth, where Stephanie soon vanished amid the crowd. By the time worry had set in for her parents, the curtain lifted to reveal their missing six-year-old daughter all alone on stage singing Raffi’s Mr. Golden Sun. Once the applause subsided and the show came to an end, the host announced that Stephanie had won the event’s grand prize: a bottle of champagne.

Because they hadn’t anticipated the competition’s under-age winner, organizers scurried to come up with a more age-appropriate prize. Stephanie walked away with a “Milk does a body good” T-shirt and a one-week, all-expenses-paid stay at a holiday resort.

Even at age six, Stephanie was living on a healthy diet of the classics. She recalls a childhood household in which music was paramount. Songs by ABBA, Willie Nelson, The Carpenters and Frank Sinatra and a dose of classical music floated within the walls of her home in Toronto. She never doubted her love of song and the power of her voice. Stage fright was not a concern; Stephanie was never shy.

“I’ve never had that problem,” she says. “Mum and Dad always sang. I was literally raised on the good old music and didn’t wait long to make an impression whenever we were entertaining or at a social event.”

Stephanie’s penchant for song has helped her see and perform all over the world. With an untiring commitment to her craft, she’s become a household name at public events and private functions across Victoria and Vancouver Island. Be it at intimate solo shows, dinner theatre at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, or singing Canada’s national anthem for international dignitaries or tens of thousands of cheering Vancouver Canucks and BC Lions fans, Stephanie displays the versatility and grace of a natural performer.

Stephanie spent 18 years as lead vocalist for The Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy. She was the only civilian among the band’s 35 musicians who travelled the world to support the Royal Canadian Navy at ceremonial events and public outreach initiatives. The band is a regular feature at Remembrance Day celebrations, the opening of British Columbia’s Provincial Legislature and during official visits from heads of state. Her years with Naden gave her the chance to work alongside greats such as the Victoria Symphony, while introducing her to the Salvation Army, an organization with which she remains very active on a fundraising level.

When a change in the band’s music director took place in 2016, it seemed like the perfect time to close the book on one chapter of her life. Faced with an unforeseen career setback, Stephanie could have been forgiven if she’d begun to worry. But she never had time to second-guess herself. Almost immediately, she discovered that she was in high demand. No longer committed to her previous band’s rigourous and unpredictable schedule, she had the freedom to set her own timetable, select her own gigs and explore new avenues for her music.

“Since that happened, I’ve never been busier,” she says.

Stephanie’s years of experience and natural command of the stage have earned her the honour of collaborating with many local musicians and hosting popular events such as the historic Oak Bay Tea Party. Her busy performance schedule and a full-time job have placed her in an enviable position of being able to say “no” when it comes to booking gigs, she says.

Stephanie has been a long-time proponent of fair wages for musicians. As is the case with so many artistic pursuits, music often places performers in a perpetual clash between following their art and coping with financial realities. Grabbing a low-paying gig for exposure and a free meal might seem harmless, but it lowers the bar, driving down the value of live music and forcing entertainers to look elsewhere to cover their expenses — and ultimately meaning they spend less time playing and practicing their craft.

Though her musical calendar is filled with private events of all sizes, Stephanie still makes time for public shows in and around Victoria. One such venue is at The Oaks Restaurant in Oak Bay, where she and her music director, pianist and great friend Darcy Phillips entertain patrons with live music on the second Friday of every month. Stephanie loves the venue’s living-room ambience. It offers an intimate venue where she can take patrons on a two-hour musical journey through song.

Anyone who has seen her perform will know that, in addition to a powerful voice of her own, Stephanie excels at impersonations. She brings well-known works to the small stage, where people can close their eyes and imagine they’re seated before some of the planet’s most famous divas and chanteuses. A standout is Stephanie’s version of the national anthem performed in a style that combines the voices of Cher, Edith Piaf, Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand and Adele. Another is the title track from 2018’s A Star is Born, featuring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.

“It’s all music that is relatable,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what age you are, whether you’re a six-year-old child or an 85-year-old man, these songs are relatable. That’s what fuels me; music is what fuels me.”

Stephanie Greaves and Friends performed their annual Christmas Show from December 5 to 8, 2019 at the Blue Bridge Theatre at The Roxy, where she’s looking forward to sharing the stage and doing what she does best, making music with a local tenor.

You can follow her on Twitter here.

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

Like Boulevard Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Instagram

Arts and cultureArts and EntertainmentMusic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Camp Barnard during the 2019 Pacific Jamboree. (Photo: Camp Barnard)
Camp Barnard near Sooke hopes fundraiser will help it progress on accessibility goals

I Care ‘Bout Camp challenge hopes to raise $100,000 for new lodge, replaced kitchen

Saanich council recently adopted a 131-step climate action plan expected to cost $2.5-million in the first year of implementation. (Black Press Media file photo)
Tensions high as Saanich considers reigniting local area plan review

Majority vote pushes discussion to fall strategic plan check-in

Oaklands Elementary’s Division 5 Grade 4/5 class posed with Leila Bui (middle), her dad Tuan Bui (crouching to her left) and mom Kairry Nguyen (right) after presenting the family with a cheque for $710 raised by the students during a necklace sale in December 2020. (Photos courtesy Kairry Nguyen)
Victoria students raise funds for girl seriously injured when struck by vehicle in crosswalk

Oaklands Elementary class contributes to purchase of all-terrain wheelchair for Leila Bui

(Black Press Media file photo)
Central Saanich surveys residents’ thoughts on active transportation plan

The online survey results will be used to finalize the plan before it heads to council

According to Statistics Canada, new housing starts and value of building permits in Greater Victoria rose in January 2021 compared to January 2020. (Black Press Media File)
New housing starts, value of building permits up in Greater Victoria

Cost of new housing also rising in region, now in excess of $1.15 million for a new detached home

Const. Nancy Saggar, who has 11 years in policing, offers advice for other women who may pursue both policing and family. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pregnancy prompts sage advice from RCMP officer for women thinking about policing

West Shore constable with 11 years experience heads off on maternity leave

(BC SPCA)
Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Cole Moore with one of his sisters, Jasmin Moore. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island man looks to brain surgery for second chance

Fingers crossed that procedure can give Cole Moore a new lease on life after decade of seizures

Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. officials plead for patience as 1.7 million COVID-19 calls flood in

Vaccine registration for 90-plus seniors opened Monday

A West Kootenay man died in an avalanche on March 4 while snowmobiling near Mount Payne, which is indicted by the red flag. Illustration: Google Maps
B.C. father of 3 dead after avalanche in West Kootenay

The man was snowmobiling with a group when incident occurred March 4

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

Software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, has been forced to re-skill during the COVID-19 pandemic after more than six years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs in B.C.’s tech industry. (Submitted photo/Shaimma Yehia)
Why skilled immigrant women continue to be shut out of B.C.’s booming tech sector

Experienced software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, hasn’t found a job since she migrated to Canada 6 years ago

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

Most Read