Fredericksburg Songwriters' Showcase Steve Key

With his original ballads, funny topical songs, and musical stories about real people, Steve Key easily wins new fans to his view of the world. He's a seasoned professional who has played the big folk festivals in Philadelphia, Winnipeg and Kerrville. And he's opened shows for Richard Thompson, Christine Lavin, Jonathan Edwards and Tom Paxton.

"It's easy to understand why Steve Key is a popular act on the folk circuit," wrote Mike Joyce in the Washington Post. "He's got a light, tuneful voice, a way with words that adds both descriptive detail and gentle humor to his songs and he relates easily to his audience."

A native of Brooklyn NY, Steve grew up in the San Francisco Bay and studied journalism at San Jose State University. He worked for several small-town weekly newspapers while starting an entirely different career, singing pop and folk songs at bars and restaurants.

After a two-year stop in Portland OR, Key returned to New York and joined the circle of singer-songwriters hanging out at Folk City and The Speakeasy in Greenwich Village. He recorded four songs for Fast Folk, the 'musical magazine' that brought out the first recordings of Suzanne Vega, Lyle Lovett and Tracy Chapman. Those recordings are now enshrined in the Folkways division of the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

"Between Trains," Steve Key's debut album, was released in 1989 and brought much critical acclaim and radio airplay throughout the Northeast. He signed with Local Folkel label in 1990, which released his CDs New Hope and Record Time. Also in 1990, Steve and his wife Karen moved to Washington DC. He helped produce two volumes of Capital Acoustics, CD samplers showcasing local folk performers.

Country music star Kathy Mattea heard Key's song "Record Time" at Fast Folk's 10th Anniversary show in 1992, and decided to cut it on her Lonesome Standard Time CD for Mercury/Polygram. And so that song was heard all around the world, performed with orchestras and on TV shows such as the Nashville Network's "American Music Shop".

Steve and Karen moved to Nashville in 1995. He honed his songwriting skills, collaborating with such touring artists as David Mallett, Hunter Moore, Sally Barris, Pierce Pettis and Kate Campbell. He was hired by Nashville Public Radio to do interviews for their Saturday night songwriters show, and he produced more than 75 segments with Kathy Mattea, Maura O'Connell, Sam Bush, Chuck Brodsky, Muriel Anderson and many others.

But the Keys missed the-big city, and decided to return to DC in the summer of 2000. Since then Steve has played several local folk venues. He has a new CD, Scatter Seeds, and has a song on A Holiday Feast, Volume 5, the annual Christmas CD produced by DC nonprofit Hungry for Music. Key is also teaching guitar and songwriting through the House of Musical Traditions in Takoma Park, MD

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