FLORENCE, S.C. – Stephanie Fagan remembers the day in Prague quite clearly.
As she toured across Europe, a stranger approached her.
“Are you Stephanie Fagan?” the stranger asked. “I have you as my ringtone!”
Fagan laughs and recalls thinking, “This is the highlight of my life. … This moment, right now.”
But since that day four years ago, the 30-year-old Florence singer has continued her success, releasing several albums, performing in Europe and across the eastern United States and filming a music video with Eerie Von, former bassist in the metal band Danzig.
For Fagan, it all feels surreal. Though she lived abroad in Germany and in Baltimore, Md., she moved back to the Pee Dee and now works as a massage therapist at the Hotel Florence spa. Fagan's everyday life often feels separate from her musical career.
“When I see myself with a ton of makeup and three-inch eyelashes singing this rock song with super cool people that I look up to, it just, it almost doesn’t even feel like me. It’s a total honor for sure. But I’m still that shy, awkward kid that wants to hang out with the cool kids,” she said, smiling.
Fagan got her start singing at Hillside Free Will Baptist Church in Florence when she was just 3 or 4 years old. She comes from a musical family and said it was natural for her to pursue music, too.
A lot changed for Fagan, though, when she met Ken and Missy Jones, who now own Southern Harmony Recording Studio on Celebration Boulevard.
The pair had just moved to Florence from Los Angeles and Fagan sold her first album to Ken when he came to buy a coffee at Aroma Underground, the coffee shop where Fagan once worked that has since closed.
She became a personal assistant of sorts for the couple, doing computer work and other odd jobs. And when the Joneses finally opened Southern Harmony, Fagan said, she became their guinea pig.
To Fagan, the Florence music scene is closely knit and flooded with talent.
“And not just people that play and appreciate music, people that are really, really good. … And everybody really supports each other, too, which is pretty rare. A lot of times there’s this competitive aspect, especially when you get into bigger cities,” Fagan said.
The singer soon will begin preproduction for her newest album, which is tentatively called “Calico Cat” as a tribute to the cats that are typically female and “known to be a little bit crazy.”
In some ways, the record is very much Stephanie Fagan, who says she is a songwriter and singer at heart. It is lyrically driven folk music with songs influenced heavily by love and relationships.
“But the theme of this CD is going to be embarrassing myself cause that’s probably the thing I’m best at,” she said. “I’ve very skilled. Putting my foot in my mouth, saying the wrong thing. You know, worrying for nothing. That sort of thing.”
She said she has already played several of the tunes live and received good feedback. Many of the songs are vulnerable but relatable.
Though she used to be shy, Fagan aims to entertain the crowd when she performs live.
“…A lot of my show is jokes and talking to people in the audience. You know, walking around. I want to let people know that I’m really appreciative for them coming out and supporting,” she said.
- Deborah Swearington, The Morning News