Stephanie Tucker Little hits the international stage
By Sarah Steele Wilson
Mar 26, 2012, 14:21
Local musician Stephanie Tucker Little poses with her guitar on the banks of the Appomattox River | photo by Sarah Steele Wilson
Stephanie Tucker Little started playing piano when she was three. She’s still playing music now, although she’s expanded the number of instruments she plays to more than seven and switched her primary focus to the guitar.
“It was always there,” the self-taught singer-songwriter said of her musical gifts.
The Colonial Heights resident’s first album, “When Sea Shells Dance”, receives air play in 17 countries, including the Netherlands, where she was asked to do a commercial for a radio station, and Belgium, where she is quite popular. Little said she regularly receives playlists from stations in Europe, telling her when her songs have played.
The music that people are enjoying in this country and across the world was committed to record right here in Prince George County, where Little recorded in the home studio of her friend Cham Laughlin.
“He was very talented and played lots of instruments,” Little said of her friend, who passed away in 2009. “It was a very enjoyable experience playing with him...We had a great time.”
The seeds for the record were planted when a church picnic in Petersburg moved inside to escape the heat of the Virginia summer. Little was drawn to the piano in the host’s living room. The church choir gathered around her as she played. A friend of hers who was involved in book promotion said he wanted to try promoting her music. To do that, she had to have a record.
“I always wanted to do it, but I was too shy,” Little said of recording.
Although she and that friend never worked together, that was the push Little needed to create something that is currently enjoyed all over the world.
“I’m glad that he gave me that push, because without it, I wouldn’t have put it on an album,” she said.
From the piano, Little moved on to other instruments, buying a ukulele with the money she received for her 12th birthday. When she was 15, her parents gave her a guitar and it was love at first strum. According to Little, nothing was more natural.
“It’s in me to play,” she said. “I have to do it. If I did it in a closet and never let anybody hear me, I’d have to play.”
Little was always shy about her musical abilities and first began to share her talent with Marrow Stuart Smith, a woman Little regards as a close friend and “unofficial grandmother,” but who many know as the first grandchild of legendary cavalry commander General J.E.B. Stuart.
“Marrow was the most remarkable person I have ever met!” Little wrote in the epilogue of Smith’s memoirs, published as “Life After J.E.B. Stuart.” “In the end, it was Marrow who encouraged me with my music, giving me the confidence I needed at such a young and fragile time in my life.”
Little’s memories of Smith will also be included in a soon to be published second book by Sharon Stuart McCree called “The Stuarts of Virginia.”
Little is currently preparing to head back to Prince George County to record a second album. This one will be a little more personal than the first, which includes folk classics, covers of songs by the Beatles and others, as well as some instrumentals she composed herself.
“I’m doing a lot of my songs on this next album,” Little said. “Trying to put the shyness aside, I’ve written words to these songs.”
At least one of the songs was inspired by an event that took place in Little’s own neighborhood. Another was inspired by her memories of Marrow Stuart Smith’s garden.
Family, friends, faith provide Little with inspiration, as does water, which is a lyrical motif in many of her songs.
“I have to be near the water,” she said. “It comforts my soul.”
Little lives in Colonial Heights with her husband and a Yellow Nape Amazon Parrot called Corkey, who likes to sing along with Little and has a performance routine of her own.
More information about Little, and her music, is available at www.stephanietuckerlittle.com.