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From The Navy To Pop Singer

Over the years, Long Island has fostered a wide variety of musicians spanning various genres—including everyone from Billy Joel and Public Enemy to Brand New and Blue Oyster Cult. This trend continues strong today. Currently, there are hundreds of musicians littered across the island. Among them is East Norwich pop singer Steven Rodriguez.

Originally from Brentwood, Rodriguez moved to East Norwich after serving in the US Navy. Upon arriving home from service, Rodriguez’s friend heard him singing and encouraged him to pursue music more seriously.

“When I returned home from the Navy, a good friend heard me singing one day and encouraged me to sing with a band his friend was putting together.”

Since then, Rodriguez has been performing all over the island. Even before his current solo project, he spent time combing the island’s venues, playing dive bars and local gems alike. Since going solo, the pop singer has frequented venues such as Lily Flanagan’s in Islip, Dockside in Port Jefferson, Canterbury Ales and Jack Halyards in Oyster Bay, and even the Steven Talk House out in Amagansett.

Like most artists, Rodriguez strives to refine his craft and establish a fresh sound. While his past experiences help to do this, he also draws from his own well of inspirations and influences.  

“There are many places and people who have helped shape my musical identity, but being the last of seven children and having so much great music handed down to me, I’d have to say my older siblings shaped me most, and beyond my years,” states Rodriguez.

In addition to personal inspirations, the singer draws from musical inspirations including modern artists such as Dave Matthews, Zac Brown and Keith Urban, as well as ‘70s singer-songwriters like David Gates (Bread), Cat Stevens, Billy Joel, and Kenny Loggins. One artist Rodriguez credits especially is Earth, Wind, and Fire.

“My early R&B influences came from music from Earth, Wind and Fire as well as Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life, which had changed my life.”

Rodriguez also finds inspiration from books, movies, and collections of photography.

Separate from inspirations, an essential element of music is the writing process. As such, Rodriguez relies on his passion, honesty, and creativity to separate his process from others.

“It usually begins with a melody for either a verse or chorus. Every once in a while I begin with a few chords and start writing lyrics right from the top.”

Ultimately, there isn’t one lone element that defines Rodriguez’s work, but all of these together. As a result, many Long Islanders have been able to connect with the singer and his work.

“Sometimes it’s comparing me to another artist and nine times out of 10 it’s one of my heroes and that makes me very happy. I’ve had a few people ask ‘Wow did that really happen to you?’ which also makes me happy that they’re listening to my words.”

Steven Rodriguez may not be as recognizable as other Long Island names, but he’s hard at work on changing that. Rodriguez released his new album, A Thousand Words, last month and will continue to play the area in support of it. He also plans to continue work on a new album, which he states is now 80 percent done.

His next local appearance will be at Jack Halyards, 62 South Street, Oyster Bay, on Dec. 21 at 8 p.m.