Artist Spotlight: Jonny Stapes

Jonny Stapes is a local sensation in the realm of Hip Hop. With no formal training, Jonny learned he had a raw talent and an ear for rhythms and beats. With a new album release on the horizon and a headlining performance lined up for this weekend, Stapes is set to stay the course of making waves int he Hip-Hop scene.


Born and raised in Syracuse New York, the 25-year-old musician moved to Charlotte at the age of 13 and attended North Meck High School. Shortly after, Jonny went on to college at UNCC before realizing that he wanted to pursue music more seriously. Since then, he has been working on his newest album “Pave the Way” with his girlfriend Lo, which is set to release soon.

I recently had the chance to sit down with Jonny to discuss his music and his journey to becoming an artist. “Music was a way to express myself,” he said of starting his career, “I was dealing with a difficult transition period of figuring out what I wanted to do and so I just started writing feelings down into lyrics, which turned into a song.” In terms of an artist role model that he aspires to be like, for Jonny, the answer is most definitely Drake. He says that in all facets of what being a musician is truly about, he admires the qualities Drake possesses and the way that he carries himself and his reputation.

Getting Personal

Jonny's ear was bent on rhythms and beats, and he had a good knack for it which ultimately lead him to the decision to pursue music as a career. “The fact that it can just be me using music as an outlet to express myself and then having people relate to the songs and the lyrics, that is definitely what made the decision for me.” When asked about where he draws the greatest inspiration from when he is writing music, Jonny provided that his writing comes from personal experience. Most of his songs are relevant to different challenges he has had to face and he uses those struggles as a basis to create motivational and inspirational story lines within his lyrics. Jonny also told us his friends and family have been avid supporters of his musical journey and have helped him continue to maintain a perspective in reality, mainly in getting his next steps in order.

Leap of Faith

Not long ago, Jonny made a switch in Hip Hop genres, moving from Mainstream to Christian. When asked what inspired his transition, he explained:
“I got kind of caught up in the mainstream trending hip hop which is more ‘party’ driven. I felt like I was trying to create music that would appeal to a certain audience instead of what I felt was best for myself and my creative process. I needed more of me in my music and so I switched to something more positive and family friendly- something that the whole family could not only just come out to and enjoy but could also relate to.“
Jonny’s hope is that his new direction of music can provide his audience with a way to escape, for some period of time, from any kind of harsh reality or stresses in their life- fully allowing the music to take them over. He hopes that they experience the freedom of just letting go and enjoying the music. “The new sound carries an overwhelmingly encouraging message and that’s something I want people to take from it. Anything is possible if you just stay positive and believe.”

On the Surface

After hearing Jonny’s incredible story to becoming an artist and learning more about the encouraging beacon of hope he wants his music and brand to become, we felt it was time to dig a little bit deeper and find answers to the really important questions. A transcript of this interview can be found below.
Jonny: Drake, again. I would love to meet him. He has gone through so much in his life and music career and has always stayed true to his music and preserved despite any negativity and backlash he has received. I would love to get his perspective on that and how he faces adversity. Also, Jay-Z. He has such a business first mindset and I would love to have a conversation with him and pick his brain to learn the music industry as he has so much experience within it. Finally, Drew Brees for his work ethic and his consistency in his course. He had an injury that could have ended his career and I would love to know how he dealt with adversity and got through that. He is always super consistent as a player and an individual, even though the different teams he played on aren’t always at the same level. He always rises to the occasion and carries the team.
OTC: If you could have dinner with any three famous figures, living or deceased, who would they be and why?
OTC: If you could eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be?
Jonny: Chicken Wings! Even though we just became vegan recently... Definitely still chicken wings.
OTC: Outside of music, what are some of your hobbies?
Jonny: Hmm… Watching football and basketball….chilling at home with my lovely girlfriend Lo…. I also enjoy cooking everything and anything!
OTC: If you were stranded on an island, what three things would you bring and why?
Jonny: 1. Headphones and something to plug them into. I love listening to music and would use them to write my own as well. 2. A dog for sure. I love animals and dogs especially. They are great companions and would keep me company. 3. The Bible. There is so much information and advice and also some great perspectives and outlooks. It definitely keeps you motivated and level-headed.
OTC: If you could be an animal in the wild what would you be?
Jonny: A lion because they are the king of the jungle... he rules the wilderness and is the top of the food chain. I would rather be a predator than a prey if I were an animal..you know?
OTC: Finally, and most importantly, what is your karaoke go-to song?
Jonny: Stand By Me if I were singing but otherwise definitely anything Eminem.
When asked if there was anything else he wanted his fans and the community to know Jonny replied: "If you like what you have seen so far or just heard today, make sure to stay tuned because there will be a lot of great things coming in the near future!" Jonny also wanted to let his followers and supporters know that he is so grateful for their encouragement and support throughout this entire journey and that they are what has gotten him this far. So, hats of to you Jonny Stapes. An incredible artist and an even kinder human being, we can't wait to see what great things you do next.

Jonny Stapes is a local sensation in the realm of Hip Hop, and ready to take his performance to the next level at the Urban Art Slam hosted this Saturday at Oak St Mill.

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