Eight-year-old Steven Dunn entered the school’s gymnasium wondering why the gym teacher Mr. McQueary pulled him out of his other class. McQueary quickly led the nervous Dunn to the band equipment room, pulled out a snare drum and told Dunn to pound out a marching cadence.
“I had been drumming with my family since I was five,” Dunn says. “I thought playing the same cadence with no variations was kind of boring, so I started mixing it up.”
McQueary, who doubled as Color Guard instructor, was impressed with Dunn’s creative whackage. That day Dunn became the school’s Color Guard drummer.
Fast-forward 30 years.
Enter “Tears of Joy,” Steven Dunn’s debut CD, which unlike his Color Guard gig, didn’t happen overnight – even though he’s still impressive on percussions and loves to mix it up.
“Well, to begin with, I originally was trying to get together a demo reel to submit to publishing houses and labels pursuing a staff writer position,” Dunn explains. “But after starting that, I thought to myself, ‘If I applied myself, and called in favors from friends, it could be more than that.’”
In a few short weeks, “Tears of Joy” ($8.99- $9.99) has risen from demo, to one of the Top 20 MP3 jazz/soul downloads on iTunes and Amazon.com. The 14-cut CD features smooth jazz produced, written, composed and performed by Dunn. The talented percussionist is accompanied by guest musicians Dewey Dewayne Addams (guitar), Chris Harris (bass), Larry Dunn (keyboards), Larry W. King (guitar), Henry Hudson III (sax), Dave Randon (bass) and Bill Rich (bass) on various tracks.
“I didn’t have the luxury to lock out studio time, and go into the studio for 3-6 months,” Dunn says. “It just wasn’t in the budget.”
Dunn was determined to cut “Tears of Joy,” despite life’s occasional complications which tried to tear him away from the project. He just kept telling himself, “I can do it.”
“I was borrowing equipment, and borrowing people’s time,” Dunn says. “But somehow it came together.”
With nurturing, Dunn says all 14 cuts came to him naturally. It’s like children, he explains. So there is no favorite. However, if you press Dunn a little harder, he’ll say sentimentally, his favorite would be “Petals of a Rose.”
[“Petals of a Rose” is] a loving inspired work for my Momma,” Dunn says.
The inspiration for “Tears of Joy” comes from the times in Dunn’s life when he was happy, joyful and proud. “Everyone has experienced of tears of joy at some point in their life,” Dunn says. “Like the crucifixion and the resurrection, you’re saddened that a man, for no other reason than another man’s insecurities, was persecuted. But he rose for the salvation for all mankind. So I’m glad and thankful at the completion of the course of events! If you don’t have tears of joy, something is wrong with you in my opinion.”
Dunn says his finest hour, as a musician, is anytime he’s doing what he loves. That’s a fine moment. “I’d have to say since it was my first experience on that level, writing and performing with one of the great CTI artists, it was something I could only dream of up to that point. Recording with the great legendary Stanley Turrentine would probably be considered a high point for sure.”
Through obstacles and deterrents, and by the grace of God, Dunn says he was able to complete “Tears of Joy.”
“I have to say a great thank you to Patrick Karanfilovic and the Alliance Records family for affording me the opportunity to share my tears of joy with the world.”
* Tears of Joy available now on iTunes and Amazon.com
* Hard copies available soon.