Stephen Sanchez — Kemba Live!, Columbus, OH

Photos & words courtesy of Harry Acosta — Website | Instagram | Facebook

Lily Meola and Stephen Sanchez owe their start to alternative media formats to getting recognition for their music. Lily was a contestant turned performer on America’s Got Talent. This one is a particularly heartbreaking story that is finally working for her. She had a record deal that fell through as she ended up becoming her mother’s primary caregiver through her battle with cancer. She is working her way back up with a beautiful and stylized voice of old-school roots that will not take much time to become a major name in the new landscape of the music industry.

She was a good conversationalist with the audience in a tone that didn’t disrupt the music. Her tunes were mostly heartache songs but she didn’t take herself too seriously. After her 6th song she said, “Jokes on you, I’m actually the one with commitment issues.” She took an IG pill to see what song she should sing and her followers chose Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”. She has a terrific voice and solid style. This was one of 3 well known covers she sang on stage, but she is releasing a full album very soon. She even sang an unfinished song of her own. Only accompanied by a keyboardist and bassist. Meola will be a competent diva in her time, but she will need more time, having only gotten back on track with her career.

Stephen Sanchez found his way here through TikTok. Posting a cover of a Cage the Elephant song, amassing 122,000 followers in June 2020. 3 years later he found himself performing “Until I Found you”at Glastonbury with Elton John. His debut album “Angel Face” released this year less than a month ago and this is already his second headline performance at Kemba Live! this year. He is categorized as a pop musician, but that provides no information as to what to expect from this 20-year-old. On the pop end, he has a Harry Styles quality to his voice, but he also has a 50’s style revivalist sound. Yes of the rockabilly persuasion, but more of the softer lullabies as well. Being introduced to his music on TiktTok and Stephen only being 20 years himself explains why the crowd was younger than you would think for music of this tone and era.

His stage performance was consistent with this sound. He was surrounded with stage bulbs in his all-black vintage suit, his touring band and a lit sign for a backdrop that simply said, “Sanchez Baby”! There are a vast amount of new musicians who miss the mark on concert performances, but Stephen embraces his time in front of the audience and I expect his concerts are only going to be bigger and better as the years progress. He is currently performing on average every other day for his US tour that runs through the end of the year.

Photos courtesy of Harry Acosta — Website | Instagram | Facebook

Harry Acosta is a professional photographer who started out shooting concerts. He is an avid concertgoer and loves to capture his favorite musicians and unseen moments we take for granted in everyday life.

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