Singer/Songwriter/Producer and Actress Sayonne (born Stephanie Courtney), honed her brilliant gifts from the age of three when called to perform her first musical ministry at her hometown, Brooklyn church. As both she and her vocal prowess grew, so did her audience as other churches throughout the region recruited the vocal prodigy to come sing. In this way, she developed the pure soul essence that underpins whatever genre she touches. Throughout high school, she became attracted to other forms of music. With her parents originally from Trinidad & Tobago, she was further enlightened by soca and other such Caribbean influences but had yet to come into her own sound. At just the age of twelve, she was already in the studio on her first album, a gospel collection entitled, Lord Just Me and You, with hymn covers written and produced for her by Marc Reddick, with the exception of “I Need You” which she wrote herself. Songwriting was an incredible feat at that age, however until her team felt safe with her growth in the area, they chose not to take any chances with her skills. However, working closely with professional producers and writers helped Sayonne learn the discipline and practice that goes into the craft. By her junior year in high school, her singing was secondary to her pursuit of a future career in nursing. In addition to extracurriculars like the band (although ironically never chorus). where she played alto sax, she otherwise focused on accelerated studies in chemistry and psychology in preparation for college. Yet once again her voice attracted a teacher who encouraged her to audition for the school musical, “Little Shop of Horrors.” after winning the role of Crystal, she gained her first taste of what her true future would hold. Still, she set her mind on attending the College of Mount Saint Vincent in New York with her eyes on a degree in nursing, with music sidelined as a hobby.
Even with it secondary to studies, she took an Artist Development course with famed public relations firm, DoubleXXposure and its CEO Angelo Ellerbee. Having worked with luminaries from Michael Jackson and Dionne Warwick to Mary J Blige and Alicia Keys, Ellerbee saw the potential in Sayonne and eventually arranged a showcase in Brooklyn, NY. Attending was renowned Gospel singer/songwriter Donald Lawrence, who saw an even greater promise in her talent than she did at the time. He encouraged her to pursue singing full force, and that while a career in nursing could happen at any time, performing professionally could not. Rather than face regrets later in life, she was also advised to switch her field of study to the performing arts in order to perfect her skills. Compared to a young Stephanie Mills due to her small size but massive talent, her appeal caught on as she transferred to Five Towns College and hey accepted her with open arms. Now exposed to even more eclectic forms of music, from classical to traditional and modern musical theatre, she got training in dancing, singing, and acting. She leaned toward an emphasis on theatre for performance rather than the teaching potential of music education courses. This only tightened her live stage abilities and she dedicated herself to the point of graduating a year and a half early with a BFA in theatre arts.
Because of her ever-soulful sound and alternate inspirational music, she struggled to
resonate with young audiences (people her own age). To bring out the youthful side of Sayonne, her team decided it was time to switch up the music. Moving from R&B/Soul to Pop. In pursuit of finding the right sound musically, Sayonne branched out and began working with a variety of producers getting a feel for multiple musical styles and discovering what resonated with her audience. At this stage, she started doing all her own writing and producing, saying, “There's more truth-telling to the process of writing a song yourself because you automatically relate to it and whoever is listening gets a part of you, and it feels great." Over time, rather than follow-up with another album, she recorded a series of singles (formerly released under the name Stephanie Courtney) to fill her catalog with tracks such as “Livin’ the Life,” “On the Edge,” “Reaching,” and “Dream Big” with heavy inspirationally charged empowerment themes backing them. After the tragic suicide of a former schoolmate due to cyberbullying, she co-wrote a relevant message for uplifting grief and overcoming in the song, “Taken Over.” Another notable track, “A Lady” was co-written with actor/performer Chaz Lamar Shepherd (from the movie Set It Off).
From 2011 until 2017 Sayonne was non-stop acting in off-Broadway productions, on the road with show tours, and even appearing in three films, one now on Netflix, entitled, "Set it Up" with Taye Diggs and Lucy Liu. Of her many successful theatrical stage performances, her personal favorites include Dreamgirls as Deena Jones, Hairspray as Little Inez, Kiss Me, Kate, and Anything Goes. In a full circle turn of events, winning roles in two different productions of “Little Shop of Horrors” she played Crystal again, and in one of the first known castings of a non-white Audrey (until the Broadway revival of the show did so later). During the theatre production of the racially charged hit, “Ragtime” where she played Sarah, the devastation of
Hurricane Sandy interrupted the show. While shutting them down, it built solidarity among the cast and crew and a compassionate resolve in Sayonne.
After closing out last year with the hit show, “Sister Act” she moved into her latest release in January 2018. “Twenty One” (streaming worldwide) brings her motivating message current with today's headlines adding hope for the new age. Entering 2018, already a veteran in the field and yet vibrant with fresh ideas, her primary focus is now on music solely with her company 5 Bars Records Inc. From June of 2017 on she has been consistently writing, producing, and team building toward a new body of work including a forthcoming tour. Sayonne maintains an active social presence and her ever-growing audience of fans can keep up with the latest endeavors on every major social media platform as well as her official website