Stephanie Braganza’s vocal talent is the definition of exceptional, at its core it has genuine meaning and value for the world today. Over the course of her career, she’s become world renowned and respected globally. When it comes to the music business, being an incredible vocalist is a skillset someone sharpens overtime before they’re given the spotlight they deserve. Stephanie aims to evoke an emotional response that is far from a science, in order to really touch an audience. Lyrics often stem from personal experiences or a controversial topic the performer feels strongly about. In the words of Les Paul, the goal of a musician is “to amplify their own feelings for the listener.”
She’s an Ontario based singer that took advice to heart by releasing songs that were both melodic but meant to disrupt the social norm and make people question what they grew up with in everyday life. An iconic example of this is Braganza’s music video “Chains of Silence’’ which illuminates many staggering truths about the dairy industry. Braganza herself has been a vegan since 2015, and she is widely known across Canada for her animal activism to support fair and humane treatment for all animals. “When you have one of the most popular anti-dairy songs out and the Milk Industry buys a lot of ads it puts pressure on the media companies to not play the song,” says Braganza. Despite controversies, lost sponsorships, and suppressed visibility, Braganza states “What kept me going was wanting to share the importance of the message even if it causes controversy, I want to put a message in my music.”
Childhood & Early Musical Career
Stephanie says that most likely she developed her taste for music by listening to a variety of genres that her mom favored. From Blondie, Dean Martin, Jim Reeves, Skeeter Davis, and countless others, music had always been a pillar in her life. When Braganza started taking piano lessons at 9 years old, music became not only a hobby, but an emotional outlet she could turn to and express herself.
Braganza joined the high school band describing herself as a “band geek” who nearly pursued a music degree for playing the clarinet. When she was approved for a scholarship into the Humber’s Jazz Music program, it was a dream that came true because of her love of singing and the desire to make that into reality.
Carving Her Own Path
Braganza’s career really set sail after the end of music school, her first paid gigs weren’t always glamorous, oftentimes playing cover songs at suspicious dive bars and pubs where, “the owners would give us a hard time paying what they promised at the end of the night”, she recounts. Overtime, Braganza built up a reputation for gigs at upscale weddings with her Top 40s band, and even started creating original songs with her good friend Kolin Stürt. Shortly after the release of her debut album, “Unexpected”, Braganza started working with a manager, but it was short-lived. Braganza wanted creative control of her music — to blend different styles of music into her work, to add elements of sci-fi or fantasy into her music videos, and most importantly to write music with purpose about topics important to her like animal activism. But with the current management partnership, that was not viable, and Braganza decided to continue her career independently.
Facing The Pandemic Head On
While many musicians struggled, Braganza faced covid head on by diversifying her skills for her audience and by booking events non-stop from weddings, to events that fought for animal rights. Even during the pandemic, she was able to consistently book out events because of this versatility partially due to the strong relationships she developed in the animal activist community. Braganza also capitalized on her 12+ years of teaching experience to help eager students of all ages during the pandemic, which has been crucial for helping her get through the social shutdown. “The experience of making music with other people is different now, we have all been doing what we can to survive, I’ve done some virtual concerts and performances. What I’ve lacked/missed is performing with others and collaborating. Teaching has helped me and has been a blessing as it almost bridged the gap, because working with my students really keeps the communal part of sharing music alive. Teaching has allowed me to play music in real-time with others and encourage others to follow their musical ambitions. This is a way to still create fun music daily.” she says.
It’s a well known fact that the music business is one of the hardest careers to break into and get truly good at. Covid is changing the business as we know it, but Braganza believes there is much opportunity for independent artists who are ready to adapt. The music business isn’t dying — it’s evolving! “You have to adapt to remain relevant, and you especially need a strong brand and social presence.”
The Future Of Stephanie Braganza
“I am seeing a new era – we’re in a time of speaking out and of transparency in society”, says Braganza. The future will be paved with songs that have substance. Music with real meaning that addresses real world issues. “Never has it been more obvious that our planet needs our help, we have treated the earth as a vending machine and the other lifeforms that inhabit it as stock for our consumption.” What really excites Braganza is the younger generation who is growing up and recognizing the urgency of issues such as veganism and plant based options in order to stop the unjust killing of animals.
On the musical front, Stephanie says “I’m not a unicorn in any way but I don’t see many female South-Asian fronted bands. The music industry has always been a male dominated one, but not only that – South Asian women tend to be overlooked in the mainstream music industry. I once voiced this opinion to my white male music business teacher in music school and got scolded by him for feeling this way.” Stephanie plans to change the way women are treated and perceived in this industry and hopefully make a brighter future for everyone along the way.
To learn more about Stephanie Braganza’s music and how she’s making a difference, you can follow her Instagram and on social media!