Started Live Now company
Many people focus on the destination rather than the journey when it comes to chasing their goals. Steve Epting, Jr. had the opposite perception when it came to his dream. He put himself to the side to pursue a different occupation, but the road was redirected quickly.
Epting had humble beginnings, learning to sing at his family church in the choir. At a young age, Epting knew singing was his talent and wanted to share it with as many people as wanted to hear.
“I was five years old singing solos at my church. By the time I was 9 and 10, I directed the youth choir,” Epting said as he described his love for music. “I saw my parents sing, and I wanted to get it right, to not only impress them but to reach the standard I held myself to.”
As time passed, Epting came to a crossroads in his life.
“I was taught at a young age that I was supposed to go to college and study a career that makes sense and gives me the ability to provide for myself and my family,” he said. “In high school, I planned on pursuing dentistry in college and making a career out of it. I was also still singing in the community choir and networking with other creatives in the city.”
Epting enrolled at Eastern University, majoring in Pre-Dental, but that didn't last long as he realized his body was in class, but his heart and mind were elsewhere.
“One of my mentors at the time told me that if you don't enjoy the work leading up to it, you won't enjoy the career,” he said.
Upon hearing that, after the first semester Epting switched his major from pre-dental to music. This course would mark the first time he would get in-depth training in music, the different genres, and how to be a conductor in a choir or orchestra.
“After I graduated with my music degree, I moved back to Chicago intending to be a music teacher and continuing my work at my family church.” Epting said. “I knew after college, I didn't want to sing just gospel, I wanted to sing all different genres of music. During my six months back in Chicago, I started making moves in the music scene and performing at a weekly R&B live event, and singing background for different artists around town.”
Epting eventually reconnected with an old high school friend who was about to change his perception of life.
“We met at a mutual friend's studio and he was telling me about his plans to move to L.A. and audition to be a drummer on somebody's tour.” This intrigued Epting, as he knew people chasing the same dream as him, but were making more strides than he was. “I always thought it was cool seeing other people get their opportunities, and I knew I was going to get mine one day but didn't know how.”
His friend extended an invitation to come to L.A., but Epting’s commitment to his family stalled the move, because he wanted to make sure home was ok before he left.
“After a conversation with my parents, they told me if I didn't go and take the chance, I wouldn't be acting on what they taught. That gave me the final push I needed,” he said.
Epting Jr moved to L.A. shortly after and was winging it until he got some traction within the industry.
“I thought after I do a few auditions and after a couple of weeks, the opportunities and money would start rolling in.” Epting said, describing his mindset once moving to L.A. and how quickly reality changed that dream. “I had to work a few different jobs before I got settled working at a high school while I continued auditioning and performing at a local spot to get my name out there.”
Epting got his first break as a background singer for Demi Lovato on her tour stop in New York. He also worked as a background singer for Kenny Latamorie on his South African tour. That’s when he received a text that would change his life.
“I got a call from one of my friends, and he told me he referred me for an audition, shortly after, I got a text asking me to show up for an audition that would be for a show at Coachella.” Epting said.
The singer was soon in store for a moment that would test his resolve and talent once he showed up for his audition.
“I went to introduce myself to the music director, and he looked at me sideways as if he didn't know who I was, and then he revealed that they were looking for Steve Notes.” Epting said as he didn't let the weird interaction stop him from getting his opportunity. “I asked him if he wanted to sing or perform right now, and he declined and said we will see how you do.”
Epting did well as he performed at Coachella in 2018 with Beyonce and then went on tour with her and Jay-Z for “On the Run Two.” Epting also continued his work with Beyonce in the studio as he worked on the Lion King and Renaissance album.
Epting reached a milestone many people could only dream of, but he wasn't finished, as he made history at the 2023 Grammys performing with Lizzo.
“To see the reaction, the response to the performance was shocking to me. Yes, I am confident in my skills, but seeing the effect of the small role I played has such a huge impact on the overall puzzle encouraged me to stand firm in who I am and in my talent.” Epting said as he explained the impact Lizzo's Grammy performance had on him.
The performance of Lizzo's record “About Damn Time”, went on to win Record of the year and saw a 250% increase in streams.
Epting is taking students and singers into an artist development and education company called Live Now. Live Now will offer vocal contracting services, artist development, masterclasses, and even music scholarships to help young people like himself achieve their dreams. The program was created in 2017, soon after Epting experienced some personal tragedies and realized that time on earth is short.
“Live Now is a movement that inspires the youth to go after their dreams and spread the love to people you're close to now and not wait until later.” Epting said.
Live Now is going through a rebrand, but readers can connect and keep up with Epting and Live Now by following his Instagram, @NeedFor_Steve. Residents can also see Epting and a few of his artists perform at 1010 wine and events every Wine down Wednesday.