Stevie J (Blues)

Daddy B. Nice's #58 ranked Southern Soul Artist

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"Because Of Me"

Stevie J (Blues)

Composed by Stevie Jay

February 26, 2017: Re-Posted from Daddy B. Nice's New CD Reviews:

February 20, 2017:

STEVIE J. BLUES: Back 2 Blues (Mississippi Delta Records / Stevie J Blues) Three Stars *** Solid. The artist's fans will enjoy.

We lived on a hill when I was a little kid. Across the street was a “basement house,” a bare concrete-block foundation rising three feet above-ground, with a front door entryway protruding like a submarine periscope and a flat shingled roof lending the whole an air of fractured permanence. Many years later, when I returned, the "basement house" was gone, replaced by a full two-story house, but the house I remember will always be the semi-realized, caught-in-time structure from my childhood, with friends I played with bounding up and out of the underground stairs.

These thoughts came to mind while listening to Back 2 Blues, the new album by Jackson, Mississippi's Stevie Johnson. Actually, there have been 3 artist-name increments since 2008—Stevie Jay (2 Sides Of A Man CD), Stevie J (Diversity Project & Unstoppable CD’s), and now Stevie J Blues (Back 2 Blues).

Although he still answers to Stevie J, as he's done his whole life, Stevie now performs as Stevie J Blues so that his fans can distinguish him from Atlanta-based Stevie J (Steven Jordan) of the reality show "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta." "It's so funny because before 'Love and Hip Hop Atlanta' came out, if you googled 'Stevie J,' my picture would come up," Johnson says. (Now) "Every now and then, somebody will hit me on Facebook and ask me what Joseline (Hernandez) (Jordan's wife) is doing, and I'm like, 'Man, you got the wrong person.'"

See Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Stevie J.

Stevie J’s foundation is his guitar playing. Only listen to the new album's instrumental encore, "Blues By The Bay." He’s considered one of the Delta’s top contemporary pickers--in constant demand for studio work and winner of many regional accolades--but, like that “basement house” of my childhood, Stevie J's “periscope” door to the fans, his claim to “fame,” has been his infrequent--almost accidental--southern soul charting with songs like "Because Of Me” (his best), "Married Girlfriend," “Come Here Party” and “Miss Apple Cheeks.”

I was in a club in the Delta once, listening to a series of conventional southern soul tunes sung live by other artists, unmoved from my chair, when Stevie J started singing the New Orleans-flavored “Miss Apple Cheeks.” I could not stay in my seat. The urge was irresistable. I lept up, drifted onto the floor (around Stevie, who was dancing with a woman from the audience) and started dancing by myself, something I hadn’t done in twenty years, and was soon joined by a female stranger and a floor full of couples. So I can attest first-hand to the seductiveness of Stevie's southern soul.

The title Back 2 Blues indicates it's a blues album, but that's not strictly the case. In fact, the set begins with a song, “Lil’ Mo Love,” that harks back to the social consciousness of Marvin Gaye's landmark "What's Going On" album. Excepting "Lil' Mo Love," however, BACK 2 BLUES is an album tailored to the traditional blues fans more than southern soul fans and chitlin’ circuit clubbers.

His website justifiably touts Stevie's unique ability to both "play the Blues and Southern Soul music authentically and accurately," and goes on to say "his eclectic ability to systematically play two different genres of music has morphed into the ‘Stevie J Sound.’”

That, I think, goes a little too far. A full-blown, successful ‘Stevie J sound’ would imply, for example, a berth on the currently ongoing “big-boys” Blues Is Alright Tour, alongside Theodis Ealey and Sir Charles Jones and T.K. Soul, not to mention relative newcomers like Tucka, Big Pokey Bear and Bishop Bullwinkle. It would imply a "full-house" booking and touring schedule.

Which raises the question. By being “eclectic,” is Stevie J hampering his own brand as a southern soul performer? Why, for example, would Stevie emasculate the most powerful song on this set, a tightly-wound bar blues called “I Ain’t Getting That,” by leaving off the word “Shit”? The omission deprives the song of meaning and power. Nor has Stevie promoted it as a single. Why record it, only to disown it?

Yes, in some circles, the four-letter word is contemptible. But it’s also the kind of thing that makes a brand. Ask Pokey or Bullwinkle or Bigg Robb. In retrospect your Daddy B. Nice was clearly out of tune with the intent and nature of the album (which I hadn't yet heard) when I printed the four letter word in my...

Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Preview For. . .

-------DECEMBER 2016-------

7. "I Ain't Gettin' That Shit"-----Stevie J. Blues

Welcome to southern soul punk rock. I can't imagine fans NOT dancing to this steamrolling slice of blues. From Stevie J's newest, Back 2 Blues.

Listen to Stevie J. singing "I Ain't Gettin' That" on YouTube

Stevie didn't reply when asked if the word, hard to make out even on the recording, was "shit." It’s well-known (locally) that Stevie is the son of a preacher, the brother of a preacher, and a man of character--a man, in other words, unlike the good-for-nothing, responsibility-shirking narrator of Stevie's most memorable hit, "Because Of Me.” And isn't that the way it's always been for southern soul musicians--that kind of yin and yang?

In “Stranger In The City,” a gospel track from Stevie’s new album, Dr. M.J. Johnson (Stevie's brother, in fact) begins sanctifying with the intro: “I don’t know who’s listening to this…” and I wonder, likewise, who is listening to this CD—-or more to the point—-who's the intended audience? The gospel fans? The traditional blues fans? The southern soul fans? By trying to appeal to so many bases, does Stevie J risk failing to capture any?

Although Bobby Rush-—Stevie’s mentor-—has done just that. Doing blues one album, doing southern soul the next. Also, Theodis Ealey. But Rush and Ealey climbed the rungs of fame by being outrageous, and Stevie hasn’t shown the stomach for that. Fear of ostracism--the ordinary man's kryptonite--the potential real-life shunning by church-going family and peers--may have stranded Stevie J in a kind of southern-soul, bad-boy, career paralysis. (One every southern soul star has had to deal with.)

Listen to Marvin Sease singing "I'm Mr. Jody" on YouTube.

The preparation for this album began in early 2015, possibly triggered by the album's then-and-still best track, a B.B. King-styled ballad written by Omar Cunnningham, who also contributed background vocals. "Another Jody Song" charted here in April of 2015. Thoroughly traditional, the song nevertheless has its own peculiar originality.

Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review For. . .

-------APRIL 2015---------

7. "Another Jody Song"-----Stevie J.

More great blues from Jackson, Mississippi's own Stevie Johnson. Written and co-produced (along with Stevie) by the ubiquitous Omar Cunningham, and promoted by Pete Peterson (Bobby Jonz, Chuck Roberson, etc.).

"Son Of A Sanctified Preacher" is a Hooker-like talking blues, and talk Stevie does for six minutes, relating a detailed and fascinating account of connecting with his father over a blues guitar. Only time will tell whether the six-minute "story" wears well.

"Lights Out" is another notable cut, although it's easy to overlook. The ballad showcases Stevie singing with the raspy, vulnerable quality that made "Because Of Me" memorable, and has a similarly atmospheric instrumental wash. It reminds you of where Stevie could go if he wanted to pursue more of a southern soul trajectory. His vocals do seem to emote better over slow tempos.

But there are no signature cuts you'd expect from a southern soul album, and excluding Omar Cunningham's "That Jody Song" and Stevie's "I Ain't Getting That--", not even any original compositions of note. You're either appreciative of the execution of the "eclectic" blues exercises therein or you aren't.

Without a doubt, Stevie J does the best with the material at hand, and the homegrown family talent is plentiful. "Stranger In The City" features gospel singer Dwayne Watkins and the preaching of Dr. M.J. Johnson. "Come See Me" showcases the mouth harp of Scott Albert Johnson. All-live horns and saxes enliven "That Party Song" and the big-band swing of "Cradle Robber."

But still...Promoting the big-band sound of "Cradle Robber" as the #2 single from the album? In doing so, Stevie may be trying to emulate the success of guitar-blues-playing youngsters like Grady Champion, Jarekus Singleton and Mr. Sipp, who have readily made inroads with the lucrative national and international “white-blues” audience.

But does this mean Stevie J. is turning his back on the southern soul audience? And is this wishful thinking on Stevie J's part? To think his "eclectic" blues is going to capture the imagination of the contemporary southern soul audience? At this late date, it's still not clear how Stevie J. means to build the "full house" of his brand. There are only so many light-hearted and contagious hits on the order of "Come Here Party" to be sprinkled into a single career.

And although it's only the latest in a series of albums that have hopscotched from blues to southern soul and back to blues again, Back 2 Blues may tell the tale of whether Stevie J. is destined to become a well-mannered studio musician/straight-blues practitioner or the controversial southern soul act hinted at by original hits like "Because Of Me."

Back 2 Blues indicates the former, a career of covering the blues, a mission of preservation. But we don't really know. Stevie could still spring a wicked southern soul album on us. There's still that much mystery, that much untapped potential. We lovers of southern soul are still waiting for Stevie J to stop playing peek-a-boo from his blues-foundation periscope and reveal his true "upper stories".

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy Stevie J Blues' BACK 2 BLUES CD at Amazon.

Sample/Buy Stevie J Blues' BACK 2 BLUES CD at iTunes.

See Daddy B. Nice's New CD Reviews. - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

December 1, 2016: NEW ALBUM ALERT!

Sample/Buy Stevie J.’s BACK 2 BLUES CD at CD Baby.

Sample/Buy Stevie J.’s BACK 2 BLUES CD at iTunes.

BACK 2 BLUES Track List:

1. Lil' Mo Love
2. I Ain’t Gettin' That
3. Cradle Robber
4. Come See Me
5. That Party Song
6. Lights Out
7. Good Good
8. Another Jody Song
9. Son of a Sanctified Preacher
10. Stranger in the City
11. Blues by the Bay

Listen to Stevie J. singing "Come See Me" on YouTube.

Listen to Stevie J. singing "Lights Out" on YouTube.

Daddy B. Nice notes:

Stevie J. introduces a subtle artist-name change on this release: not "Stevie J," but "Stevie J Blues". This is the third permutation of his name, originally marketed as "Stevie Jay".

From Daddy B. Nice's Corner:

Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Preview For. . .

-------DECEMBER 2016-------

….7. "I Ain't Gettin' That Shit"-----Stevie J.

Welcome to southern soul punk rock. I can't imagine fans NOT dancing to this steamrolling slice of blues. From Stevie J's newest, Back 2 Blues.

Listen to Stevie J. singing "I Ain't Gettin' That" on YouTube - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide


See "Tidbits" below for the latest updates on Stevie J.

To automatically link to Stevie J’s charted radio singles, awards, CD's and many other references on the website, go to "Stevie J." in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.


Daddy B. Nice's Original Critique:

"Because Of Me" begins as one of those less-is-more songs on the order of Jerry L.'s "Girls In The Hood" or T. K. Soul's "You Ring My Bell," songs that in their laid-back way musically mimic the feeling of wrapping up in a cozy, warm comforter on a winter's afternoon.

Stevie J drawls the words in an unhurried, offhand, emotionally-muted manner which paradoxically pulls the listener into the song's matrix all the more convincingly.

Listen to Stevie J. singing "Because Of Me" on MySpace while you read.

Listen to Stevie J. singing "Because Of Me" on YouTube while you read..

"Three o'clock in the morning,
And I'm lying on the living room floor.

She got a good man at home,
But nobody's.... (unintelligible).

I know that I'm wrong
To be feeling about the woman this way.

And if we ever get caught,
What the hell am I gonna say?

Too wrong to make it right,
But too right to let it go.

She got me sleeping with one eye open,
And a chair behind the door.

Is he coming home
Early from a hard day's work?

Or will he catch an eyeful?
I was already doing her dirt."


"Because of me.
Because of me.
There's a little girl at home all alone
Because of me.

Because of me.
Because of me.
She lost a good thing, now he's gone,
Because of me."

Although "Because Of Me's" subtle prologue is as easy to get into as falling backwards onto a mattress, there is really much more going on. Stevie J peppers the first bars of his slow jam with a roster of musical elements.

The first element is the nagging sound of the girlfriend (voice-over) whom the hero of the song likes but does not love enough to leave his wife and family.

"Stevie," she whispers. "Stevie."

It's a voice that a man with any extensive sexual experience knows and dreads (and over the duration of the song it will get much worse): the voice of a girl who's easy, who's been had, and who wants nothing more than to cling to the no-longer fully-engaged man.

Then there is the character of the man. Not a nice guy. Probably a good-looking guy, a "bad" guy trying to be a "good" rather than "nice" guy, the kind of man just this kind of woman is liable to fall for.

The man is intelligent, even sympathetic to the woman's needs. At his best, he's also realistic, articulate and honest. But he's also a heel, he knows it, and he feels guilty about it.

All this is conjured by the words, the give and take of the two lovers. The experience of listening to the song is as vivid as looking through a peephole at a couple's private lives.

Musically, a whole array of unique elements parade into view like floats in a Rose Bowl parade. A quasi-Snoop-style keyboard hook negotiates a sophisticated musical phrase with a two-part, call-and-response structure. It's refreshingly original, and the resulting melody is memorable.

The tempo is deliberate. In the background there is a very subtle guitar, barely discernible, a spare but sturdy rhythm section, and a female background with the same rough, next-door-sounding reality of Stevie J's vocal--nothing slick, nothing histrionic.

Mid-way through the song, just as you feel you're floating away on a cloud of pleasure, there's a violent knocking on the door. The first time you hear it, you're startled into thinking it's your own door, not the record.

But it is the record, a wake-up call signaling the second phase of the song. After another verse in which the man tries to explain his predicament in a positive way, a phone rings.

It's the woman who loves to say "Stevie," and she's ratcheting up the pressure on our hero. She's been "caught up." "The game is over." And all the man can think is: Why didn't you lie and creep?

The door knocking and the phone ringing, followed by the phone conversation (done in voice-over between both man and woman), bring the song to its messy denouement, with both unfaithful lovers frozen in conflict: the man wary of any further commitment, the woman--her marriage ruined--condemned to being no more than the "outside woman" to this married man who only sees her as a diversion.

Stevie Jay's "Because Of Me" is one of the most devastating portraits of infidelity in the Southern Soul canon, and its candy-sweet, top-forty-pop-chart arrangement and beguiling melody lift it onto the top shelf of contemporary Southern Soul classics.

In a revealing interview with Jackson, Mississippi's DJ Outlaw in September of 2008, Stevie J explained the real-life genesis of the song.

Stevie J: "One night, one particular night, we was together, doing our thing, whatever, and I asked a question: 'What if your husband walked through the door?'

"She said, 'Well, he'd--just--be walking through the door.'"


"So we kind of took it and embellished on the story a little bit, and--you know--just gave it kind of a hypothetical situation, like 'What if this happened?' But a lot of that song really happened. Like three o'clock in the morning, I was really THERE. And that's how it came about."

DJ Outlaw: "Well, I want to ask a question. Did you explain to her that you was in love with her, but you couldn't leave your wife?"

(Laughter from both.)

Stevie J: "Well, not that particular thing. I told her, 'Don't leave your husband for this one.'"

Outlaw, surprised: "Oh! She ready to go!"

Stevie J: "Well, she said that if he came in and saw us at their house, she wouldn't stop."

Outlaw, even more surprised: "So you was at the man's house!"

Stevie J: "At three o'clock in the morning."

Outlaw: "Oooooh. Where was HE?"

Stevie J: "He. . . He gone."


Such is the stuff that art is made of.

--Daddy B. Nice

About Stevie J (Blues)

Stevie J (or Stevie Jay), not to be confused with the P. Diddy-associated producer of the same name, was born Stephen Johnson and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, in the heart of gospel, blues and Southern Soul music.

The son of a preacher, Johnson was immersed in music from an early age, playing with gospel groups including The Williams Brothers, The Jackson Southernaires, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Slim & His Supreme Angels and Shirley Caesar.

Then, in 2001, Johnson met Bobby Rush, who inspired him to try secular music. Along with local Southern Soul diva Pat Brown, Rush schooled the young singer and guitarist in blues and Southern Soul.

Stevie J recorded with Rush on his Folk Funk album in 2004. He was also featured with Rush in the Live at Ground Zero club DVD and the Martin Scorsese series, The Blues.

Stevie J toured Europe with Rush, performing at the Cognac Blues Festival in Cognac, France. In an interview with Carl Gibson of the "Jackson Free Press" in 2009, Stevie J stressed how awed he had been by the far-reaching influence of the blues on musicians abroad.

"They sounded like they were from Clarksdale, Mississippi," Stevie J recalled. "We just had to start playing, and they caught it by ear, man, and we was jamming and playing this blues, man.... and when I went to talk to them, they couldn't speak English! And I was like, 'But you were just talking about your baby!'"

Stevie J's stints playing Fender guitar with Bobby Rush led to studio and background work with Jackson, Mississippi's Malaco Records, legendary Southern Soul composer George Jackson, and major Southern Soul acts such as Mel Waiters, Denise LaSalle and Vick Allen.

In the meantime, Stevie J played local gigs in and around Jackson with his own band, The Blues Explosion: keyboard player Steve Lewis, bassist Anthony Rimmer and drummer Tim Henderson.

Stevie J's debut solo album, 2 Sides Of A Man, was published via Senator Jones' Hep'Me Records in 2008.

The first radio single, "Gotta Find A Good Woman," drew lukewarm response. However, the follow-up single, the unique pop-tinged ballad "Because Of Me," tore up the Southern Soul charts, drawing raves throughout the chitlin' circuit.

Stevie J's "Because Of Me" garnered the top spot, the number-one song of the year, in Daddy B. Nice's Top 25 Southern Soul Singles of 2008.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime ballad," Daddy B. Nice wrote. "We all know that charismatic men (such as the song's narrator and most Southern Soul performers) attract women, but few have had the seeds to go where Stevie Jay dares to go: into a no-holds-barred confessional and meditation on hedonism, responsibility and apathy, all in the form of a story set to the most successful Southern Soul/slash/pop music hybrid yet recorded."

Stevie J also won the Central Mississippi Blues Society's International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee and was voted the "Best New Artist" in the Southern Soul Blues (Blues Critic's) Reader's Poll the same year.

In 2010, after working simultaneously on a Southern Soul collection and a straight-blues album, Stevie J. decided to combine the two into a digital-age "double album," and in 2011 The Diversity Project was released on Blue Skunk Records.

Stevie J was awarded "Contemporary Blues Artist (Male)" at the Jus' Blues Awards held in Memphis, Tennessee on August 5, 2010.

Stevie J. Discography:

2008 2 Sides Of A Man Hep'Me Records

2011 Diversity Project (2-disc set) Blue Skunk Music

2013 Unstoppable Select-O-Hits

2016 Back 2 Blues Stevie J Blues

Song's Transcendent Moment

"Everybody knows
Three into two don't go.
I'm tired of jumping out of windows,
And sprinting out the damned back door.

To be your man
Is not my wish.
There's something about
The way you make me feel.

I can't provide
Or take care of you
When I'm out here looking for
The same thing, too."



January 22, 2012:

From Daddy B. Nice's Corner: Best of 2008--The Year In Review. . . Daddy B. Nice wrote:

"It was a year when Stevie Jay reminded us all (in his incandescent single "Because Of Me") that you can muster a great Southern Soul vocal without shouting and screaming and writhing and wailing--in fact, without vocalizing much higher than a sugary whisper."


May 28, 2012: New Single Alert

Listen to Stevie J singing "Come Here Party" on YouTube.

See Daddy B. Nice's #4 "Breaking" Southern Soul Single for March 2012.

3. Stevie J. on YouTube:

(Updated 11-27-16)

Listen to Stevie J. singing "Come Here Party" on YouTube.

Listen to Stevie J. singing "Because Of Me" on YouTube.

Listen to the Official Video of Stevie J. singing "Come Here Party" on YouTube.

Listen to Stevie J singing "Lil Mo Love" live onstage on YouTube.

Listen to Stevie J singing "Another Jody Song" live onstage on YouTube.

Listen to Stevie J singing "Married Woman" on YouTube.

Listen to Stevie J singing "Damn Near Crazy" on YouTube.

Listen to Stevie J singing "The Thrill Is Gone" and other tunes live onstage at the E&E Blues Club, Jackson, Mississippi, on YouTube.

Listen to Stevie J singing "Weekend Love" on YouTube.

Listen to Stevie J. singing "Ol Skool" on YouTube.


If You Liked. . . You'll Love

If you liked Little Milton's "What Do You Do When You Love Somebody," you'll love Stevie J's "Because Of Me."

Honorary "B" Side


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Because Of Me by  Stevie J (Blues)
Because Of Me

CD: 2 Sides Of A Man
Label: Hep'Me

Sample or Buy
2 Sides Of A Man

4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Party by  Stevie J (Blues)

CD: 2 Sides Of A Man
Label: Hep'Me

Sample or Buy
2 Sides Of A Man

4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Love This Woman by  Stevie J (Blues)
I Love This Woman

CD: 2 Sides Of A Man
Label: Hep'Me

Sample or Buy
2 Sides Of A Man

4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Mississippi Po' Boy by  Stevie J (Blues)
Mississippi Po' Boy

CD: The Diversity Project
Label: Blue Skunk

Sample or Buy
The Diversity Project

4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Stolen Wine by  Stevie J (Blues)
Stolen Wine

CD: The Diversity Project
Label: Blue Skunk

Sample or Buy
The Diversity Project

3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Born Again Bluesman by  Stevie J (Blues)
Born Again Bluesman

CD: The Diversity Project
Label: Blue Skunk

Sample or Buy
The Diversity Project

3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Gotta Find A Good Woman by  Stevie J (Blues)
Gotta Find A Good Woman

CD: 2 Sides Of A Man
Label: Hep'Me

Sample or Buy
2 Sides Of A Man

3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Married Girlfriend by  Stevie J (Blues)
Married Girlfriend

CD: The Diversity Project
Label: Blue Skunk

Sample or Buy
The Diversity Project

3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Play The Blues, Son by  Stevie J (Blues)
Play The Blues, Son

CD: The Diversity Project
Label: Blue Skunk

Sample or Buy
The Diversity Project

3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Standin' At The Station by  Stevie J (Blues)
Standin' At The Station

CD: The Diversity Project
Label: Blue Skunk

Sample or Buy
The Diversity Project

2 Stars 2 Stars 
Sample or Buy Born And Raised by  Stevie J (Blues)
Born And Raised

CD: The Diversity Project
Label: Blue Skunk

Sample or Buy
The Diversity Project

2 Stars 2 Stars 
Sample or Buy Hustler Blues by  Stevie J (Blues)
Hustler Blues

CD: 2 Sides Of A Man
Label: Hep'Me

Sample or Buy
2 Sides Of A Man

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