Bethel Steele, is thrilled, and her own words speak volumes. “I WON!!! We’re going to change the world… a little bit. Through music. With an Iguana.” Trespass Music couldn’t be more happy that Bethel has won this prestigious grant. We want to tell you the story of how this came about and how Bethel is going to change the world…a little bit…through music. You are about to be Betheled!
A few months ago Bethel was at the dinner table brainstorming about ideas for submitting a project to the Iguana Music Fund through Club Passim with the Producer of her current album “Of Love and Whiskey“- Neale Eckstein. The Iguana Music Fund provides grants of $500 to $2000 to a select number of artists as they pursue their music career. As Bethel puts it “The alumni of recipients of this award are some of my musical heroes… Really, to get a grant from the Iguana is kind of like getting a financial aid package to continue your college education, except you don’t have to take classes.”
Bethel had applied for the Iguana Music Fund in past years, and her application was passed by. To apply this year meant soul searching, reaching within, and looking beyond herself, maybe at the greater picture of serving the community as a whole, something her Producer Neale Eckstein of Fox Run Studio suggested she do. “But Neale, being the brilliant producer that he is, gently reminded me to think a little bigger than that… like a little bigger than myself… So we then got into a discussion about who I am as an artist, as an individual in the greater universe, and what I might like to be doing with my music that could serve a greater community – maybe even a community that I belong to already.”
“So, the more we talked, the more we thought that doing some sort of outreach/advocacy in and around the queer community would be pretty awesome… Specifically, we thought I could do something with my song “Beautiful Boy” – a song I wrote after trying to practice in a mirror for days… and eventually I gave in and wrote the song that was welling up inside of me about that ‘boy’ in the mirror. I wanted to cry as we were talking about this option, so following my tearful gut, I decided that’s the idea I needed to flesh out.
I then proceeded to procrastinate for a month, month and a half… then on the eve of the deadline to submit to the Iguana I finally sat down. I had a hard time at first, as one of the things I’ve always worried about was being “pegged” as a queer musician, and therefore not reaching a broader audience because I had somehow alienated some of my fans or potential fans… and there went the snowball of irrational thought, the first hurdle to get over.
Bethel’s submission to the Iguana Music Fund ~ “The skin you’re in: supporting Boston queer youth and young adults at schools and colleges through music and discussion”
I’d like to visit high school and college LGBTQ (lesbian gay bisexual transgender queer) support groups in/around the Boston area and host a discussion about being genderqueer – that is belonging to the group of folks who don’t quite fit into the gender binary of discretely masculine or feminine. LGBTQ youth, especially those who do not fit into the gender binary, often don’t have a support system to encourage them that who they are in their bodies is perfectly acceptable and that they should be celebrated for who they are. I’d love to begin these discussions with a few songs, including one that I wrote as a letter to myself during a time that I felt really uncomfortable in my body (“Beautiful Boy”).”
CLICK HERE TO HEAR 02 Beautiful Boy
Ten weeks later Bethel received confirmation of her win and the grant. She really didn’t believe that she had won and almost didn’t read the email confirmation. But once she’d read the entire email through her response was “Wow. Uhhh… oh wow. I think the Iguana gave me money to be a good queerly influence.” Bethel, I think you were Betheled too! Being Betheled is receiving these huge hugs from her!
Bethel will begin the ‘Skin you’re in’ project next year. If you’d like to learn more about the project, and you are in the Boston area April 22nd, Club Passim will be hosting the Iguana Fund Music Night. You’ll hear the stories of chosen recipients and how the Iguana is supporting their music careers.
Bethel Steele‘s second studio record, “Of Love & Whiskey” debuted in the Top 20 acquiring #17 for Top Albums and Songs on the Folk DJ Charts. Most played from her current project are “Farm”, “Seasons” and “Sunrise”. Steele established herself at #26 for Top Artists. “Of Love and Whiskey” also did very well on the RMR (Roots Music Report) coming in at #11 on the RMR State Chart for MA, and #33 for Top 50 Folk Albums.
“Of Love and Whiskey” is an introspective and tender exploration of the human condition; a 10-song effort that delves into love’s adventures, the journey of
recovery and self-reflection, and our capacity to find hope in unexpected places.
The production on “Of Love & Whiskey” ranges from Bethel’s vocal and guitar (With
Age) to fully produced songs backed by seasoned performers (Sunrise, The Farm, Blue Skies), but every song on the album shares an intimate story with the listener. Even the edgier numbers, like those that tackle the subject of addiction (Hard Love, Whiskey), have a certain heartfelt conviction and sincerity about them.
The record as a whole is a journey!
To learn more about Bethel visit her website HERE
You can read more of Bethel’s story about the Iguana Music Fund HERE
Visit Club Passim HERE