Creativity and conviction
Talented transplant Casii Stephan finds success singing in Tulsa.
Casii Stephan and the Midnight Sun perform regularly at the Wine Loft.
Minnesotan Casii Stephan, 27, had only a handful of performances under her belt when she moved to Tulsa in September 2014. When family invited her here for a change of scenery, she thought it would be temporary.
Three years later, she is a staple of the Tulsa music scene, performing regularly at the Hunt Club, the Fur Shop and the Wine Loft with her six-piece band, Casii Stephan and the Midnight Sun.
Stephan recently represented Tulsa at South by Southwest’s Tulsa Music Showcase, alongside Hanson, BRONCHO and others, and helped organize MisFEST, this month’s music festival of local female talent. On a national level, her songwriting skills are receiving attention; her catchy “I Like the Way” won “Best Love Song” at the Independent Music Awards at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts in November in New York City.
Stephan attributes much of her success to her manager, Amira Al-Jiboori, who she met shortly after moving to Tulsa. “Amira said, ‘You have a voice; you need to start performing again,’” Stephan says. “So I did, and one gig led to another.”
Tulsa quickly embraced her music, which Stephan describes as a blend of pop, rock and soul, influenced by a childhood love of Disney tunes and Jack White’s philosophy of valuing emotional expression over technical perfection.
Stephan has a powerful, versatile voice and a fascination with “the challenge of writing a hook that will get stuck in people’s heads.” And she is convinced artists must stop buying into the idea that pursuing a creative career is fruitless. “There’s this idea that, at a certain age, you should give up music and get a normal job,” Stephan says, “but that’s not what you’re made to do. You have this creative aspect that needs to blossom; you can’t ignore it.”
May 13 MisFEST
1-11 p.m. River West Festival Park, 2100 S. Jackson Ave. $25-$65. Benefits YWCA Tulsa and River Parks. misfest.com