“My city, my city, sometimes she’s just so pretty,” Be Steadwell sings of D.C. on “Not Gonna Move to New York.” In this sweet love song, Steadwell name-checks a few of her favorite things: “My H.U., my Mambo, my Rock Creek Park and go-go; not Brooklyn, but Brookland.”
When the self-described “queerpop” artist wrote that folk-inflected song a few years ago, her attitude was, “I know the city is changing, I know it’s got problems, but I’m going to stay.” Now, however, Steadwell is preparing to debut another ode to D.C., one she describes as a “sad love song.” Called simply “Home,” it’s about “looking for home when my hometown is really rapidly changing to the point where I feel like I don’t belong anymore. It’s sad — I’m sad about it.”
Steadwell recently toured the U.K. with fellow singer and musician Asha Santee, also her partner in life. Santee will join Steadwell on a few songs next week at the Mansion at Strathmore. “It’s the fanciest, coolest gig I’ve probably ever had,” says Steadwell. “It’s going to be the first show that really showcases all of the different kinds of things I do.” Those things include raps, beatboxes and vocal looping technology to create intriguing, memorable songs that encompass genres as diverse as folk, hip-hop, jazz and soul.
Perhaps Steadwell’s greatest support has come from her parents, who didn’t so much as blink when she casually started dating a girl in high school. “They got married at a time when interracial marriages were still illegal in certain states,” Steadwell says, offering a theory about why they have been so accepting about her sexual orientation. “The fact that society as a whole didn’t necessarily support this kind of love was something that they experienced and understood.”
Be Steadwell performs Wednesday, June 15, at 7:30 p.m., at the Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda, and Wednesday, June 29, at 7:30 p.m., at Amp by Strathmore, 11810 Grand Park Ave. in North Bethesda. Tickets are $17 each. Call 301-581-5100 or visit strathmore.org.
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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly.
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