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Hotseat - Stephen Joseph

748_hotseatSt. Maarten's Hard Rock Café Idol

Stephen won the "Hard Rock Café" singing competition earlier in the year. The competition, which took almost two months, started in April and ended in May. The event called "Hard Rock Café Idols Tuesdays" was basically a Karaoke singing challenge. For the finale, Stephen sang Ordinary People, Original and Heartless. It was no surprise that he won. His supporters were there to cheer him on and he performed like a star. Stephen also won the talent show on the Dutch side in the rap category in 2011.

You'll see Stephen perform in a number of events yearly on the French side. He is at the Marigot market place and Fish Day in Grand Case each year. He also has been a guest performer at various pageants on the French side. Stephen most recently performed at the Miss Elegant Mother beauty pageant; his voice absolutely blew the spectators away. Totally surprising with his understated, relaxed and humble appearance, he started singing and the crowd had to turn around to take another look at where this fantastic voice was coming from. He thrilled the audience with his awesome performance and in return received an ear deafening applause.

Where were you born? Tell me a little about where you grew up.

I was born on the French side and raised on the Dutch side, primarily in St. Peters. We moved around a lot, but lived in St. Peters most of my years; it's also where I live right now.

Where in St. Maarten did you go to school?

I went to the Milton Peters College, MAVO stream. After I completed MAVO, I entered a summer job placement program (BOP – Business Outreach Program). The program is designed to offer young adults a jumpstart into the work field. Students fresh out of school are placed with a company or government office and have the option to apply for a job with that particular company afterward. The contract you sign is usually for a six-week or two-month period. I was placed in the tax office.

Where do you currently work? What is your profession?

I currently work at the tax office on the Dutch side, in the capacity of administrative clerk in the back office. We do data entries which are reported on a weekly basis. In the period that I've been working at the tax office, I've been asked to participate in various courses. I've completed a Basic Tax Skills and Introduction to Tax Laws course, which was hosted in two blocks of two weeks.

You have a beautiful voice. Are you taking singing classes?

Yes, I am taking singing classes from Benjamin Bell of the Bell Brothers. I go every week, but I need to practice on a daily basis as well for approximately up to four hours. Basically, I stop when someone tells me to be quiet. Singing is my passion so it's never too long when I'm practicing.

Besides working at the tax office and singing, do you have other hobbies or interests?

Yes, I do. I write poetry, spoken words and lyrics for songs that I intend to perform myself. I also write lyrics for other artists. I think I would be good in acting and I would like to enter into that segment of arts as well. I'm now writing a book called Love Disciples.

Tell me something about the book you are writing.

Love Disciples is based on a painting which a friend of mine painted – Maquidu Fevry. Maquidu is in charge of the illustration of the book and I am writing the story. This book is intended for teenagers and young adults. We have most of the storyline and paintings completed; our target date to publish the book is August or September and we are pretty much on target at this point in time.

What are your ambitions for the future? Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

I would like to be more involved with my music in 10 years; however, I don't want to limit myself to music. I want to widen the scope and say that I would really like to be involved and make a living from the arts: writing, singing, acting, etc. Maybe I will continue to study something in Research; I want to have that as my back-up plan. My parents aren't too keen on me fully focusing on my singing career. They want to see me in a solid profession.

Do you have any days off from work? What do you do on those days?

I'm off on weekends and I usually do what I love doing: singing, writing, rapping and reciting poetry. I perform when hired to do so, which I really enjoy and practice for. Living on the island, I enjoy the beach; it inspires me to write. I normally go to the beach later in the afternoon and early evening and absorb, after which I usually write great lyrics and poetry.

If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be? What would be the one question you would ask; and what would you serve them to eat?

I would ask John Legend and Ed Sheeran. I would ask both of these great singers: "When can we start making music." We wouldn't be eating much, easy snacks and beverages. We would focus fully on the musical experience.