The following article was written by John Leasure | Media Moments

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The Scioto Voice - June 18, 2015

A Remarkable Local Tre

by John Leasure


Sometimes something becomes
too familiar and we forget how
special that something is and it is
how people away from here see
this treasure amongst us that
brings things into better focus.
Such is the case of, I think, musi-
cian and local cultural ambassa-
dor Steve Free.

We see him playing in local ven-
ues and we have heard his music
for a long time. Steve has worked
with the Portsmouth Area Arts
Council many times as we have
sent him into the schools to talk
about regional music and the
huge music culture of our region.
He is great with kids and goes
north to the Akron area regularly
educating them about rural music
as well as Native American
music. He is an amazing person
in front of a classroom full of kids. _

I saw Steve at The River House,
the restaurant in the Portsmouth
Holiday Inn on a Thursday not too
long ago. He sings there regular-
ly amid the din from the bar area
in his pure, soft tones of a blend
somewhere between rock, coun-
try and bluegrass. He has a
unique sound that is comforting
and listening to the lyrics of his
original music you see the depth
of thought he brings to his music.
It had been many months since
we had talked and I shared with
him a story that has become typi-
cal especially around Christmas

I Skype and chat with people all
over the world from my desk on
fifth street. Technology is amaz-
ing at how we can travel the world
from our living room. And every
so often I am brought up short by
someone recognizing
Portsmouth, Ohio's connection to
a song at Christmas called Just a
Baby Boy. A 'beautiful new
Christmas carol by Free himself.

It rises every Christmas time and
travels farther each year. This
past year two people, one from
Latvia and one the Ukraine, both
asked it this was the same place
was from.

It is a song that has won many international awards and has touched many lives. Steve said a minister in Nigeria buys the CDs and gives them out as he travels a hostile environment to Christians and the message of Jesus. The impact of this one song on cultures just finding their spirituality is amaz-
ing. And it all began here with
Steve Free.

The Portsmouth Bicentennial
Committee commissioned Steve
to write a song for this Summer's
celebration. Portsmouth, Ohio is
the song and it just sent chills
through me. He so captures what
we love about this area and com-
munity. The lyric says "There is a
place that calls to me like a voice
inside of me. Where my mind
often goes and the memories
start to flow." And maybe you
need to be gone for a while from
the area for this to resonate as it
does with me. When I was in LA
for 11 years, I could hear this area
call out when the frustrations of
city life were just too much. I often
had my heart soar when in land-
ing at the Cincinnati airport in
Kentucky during the Summer
amid the lush green trees of the
Appalachian foothills. Steve Free
captures this feeling and the area
so we" in this song, it brought
tears to me the first time I heard
the song.

Steve is an international star and
has had recently three songs go
to Number 1 on the International
Country Charts: Ship of Dreams
in _ November 2014; All God's
Children March of 2015 and A
Million Years just this month of
June 2015. All three songs are

available on his current CD Ship
of Dreams. It is A Million Years
that is the most special to Steve
as it is dedicated - to his mother
who was an inspiration to him. It
is a touching and loving tribute to
a remarkable woman. Again his
music is full of emotion and clari-
ty of thought. It is no wonder his
music goes around the world so
easily because it speaks to the

In his career Steve Free has
charted over 30 songs on the
National, International,
Americana, Country and Billboard
Charts including a total of 15
number one songs. He has nine
ASCAP (the song writing organi-
zation) Awards, a Platinum
Record Uudged in sales) and a
Grammy nomination. His is a
remarkable career and he still
calls this area home and has
raised a family here amid an inter-
national music career. All of
Steve's music can be ordered
from his website or iTunes or
Amazon. Some of his older music
also can be streamed from

It was great to reconnect to this
wonderful artist at dinner and to
be able to enjoy his music and the
conversation we had on - his
breaks. Steve Free is an incredi-
ble talent and ambassador to our
region as he was named "An offi-
cial Ohio Treasure" in 2009 by the
Ohio Arts Council and honored by
the Kentucky State Senate for his
"artistic excellence and musical
contributions to Appalachia" in
2010. It should also be noted that
his song As the Storm Passes By
is being used by the Hospice
Association of England in a com-
pilation CD.

As is always the case the song
from the hospice CD is bright with
a positive message of hope and
love. This is Steve Free's gift to
us all.