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Steven Santoro

Steven Santoro, born Steven Kowalczyk, from Milford, Massachusetts, did not have to look far to find his new name. His grandfather, Libertore Santoro, was a saxophone player and inspired Steven, the fourth grader, to play the horn as well. But during his freshman year in high school, Steven’s musical interests took a turn. Even though he loved playing classic big band charts like Count Basie’s “Queen Bee,” he truly found himself while sitting in front of a piano writing songs. Soon his band director was lending him the keys to the grand piano in the auditorium.

Steven’s songwriting and singing addiction eventually led him to the University of Massachusetts to study Afro American music and jazz with Dr. Horace Boyer. While learning to sing and improvise on classic 32 bar songs made famous in the jazz and swing eras, Steven wrote and arranged his own pieces. Some were inspired by the form and tone of the classics and others continued on the ever-changing path of the pop music that pervaded.

Steven’s ability to authentically juggle the two styles is what years later caught the ears of Ahmet Ertegun, the legendary founder of Atlantic Records. After a stint of teaching special education classes in Los Angeles, Steven recorded his first album, “Moods and Grooves,” for Atlantic Records with producers Ertegun and Shane Keister. Released worldwide, it rose to #20 on the jazz radio charts in the USA while Kowalczyk toured the country as an opening act for Fourplay (Bob James, Nathan East, Lee Ritenour, Harvey Mason). After parting with Atlantic Records, Steven played to eager audiences in London and “Moods and Grooves” shot to #1 on the UK’s Jazz FM Radio.

After one of many corporate shake-ups in the Warner/Atlantic world, Steven fell back on his other love, teaching. The Public School Repertory Company, a performing arts alternative high school located in the heart of Times Square, acquired the talented, now more experienced Steven Kowalczyk. For three years he taught Songwriting Music Theory and Vocal Technique to a creative and restless crew of NYC’s hip hop culture. Under his guidance, his songwriting class won the award for best original song in the National Gospel Choir Competition. Meanwhile, Steven performed in New York’s club scene, worked as a studio session/jingle singer, lending his voice to represent many national and international ad campaigns. He began producing and arranging for other independent recording artists and kept on writing the songs he loved to write.

Still under the spell of teaching, Steven is currently on faculty at the famed Berklee College of Music.