Bringing Fame to God’s Name

Professor Steven Ford’s Journey to Eastern

“Many [people] in academics want to go professional, but can’t because of life circumstances. I had the opportunity to do it the other way around.” Steven Ford smiles to himself, recalling the divine peculiarity of his vocation.   

A second-year music faculty member, Professor Ford is beloved by students for his humility, wisdom, and experience. His accomplishments preceded his teaching post, as the whispered buzz of his awards and contributions to music (2 Grammies, 12 Grammy nominations, 5 Dove Awards, and 10 Stellar Awards) spread quickly amongst the musicians of the tightly knit department.

A producer, composer, arranger, and performer, he spent over 25 years in the music business before arriving at Eastern University as a student. After graduating in 2013, he began both his intensive graduate work at The Vermont College of Fine Arts and his inaugural professorial season at Eastern, alongside his various musical projects. Next semester, he will pioneer a new course, entitled Contemporary Music Production.

Mr. Ford laughs as he recounts his first musical memory: “My mother called to beg the music teacher at my elementary school: ‘Don’t let him bring another musical instrument home.’” His passion was also his gift; he was leading the choirs of his father’s church as the Minister of Music by the prodigious age of 9. Word quickly spread throughout the community of “this little guy that played the piano and the Hammond B3 organ,” and soon enough Mr. Ford was performing for every school function.

He intended to pursue a career in electronics as a young adult, but he found a providential fusion of electronics and music when his childhood musical career drew gospel bigwigs to call him for studio work. Richard Smallwood (gospel music’s premier classical artist) and Marvin Winans (lead singer of the Winans Brothers and older brother of gospel stars BeBe and CeCe Winans) approached him with concurrent jobs as their musical directors, which led him to put his planned collegiate semester at Temple University on hold. After returning from his hiatus from formal education, he found that time in the classroom enriched his experience: “my education was my investment into my gift, and now it’s reaping dividends.”

Even as it seems that recognition for artistic excellence would lend itself to arrogance, Mr. Ford refuses to allow the awards to define him: “I never want to come off like I’m way up here and everyone else is down here,” he explains with his hands outstretched. “Humility is realizing that everyone isn’t afforded the opportunity to have this journey. We work hard to get to this level of our professional and educational life. With that said, I can be proud without being arrogant.”

With credentials that highlight his involvement in the gospel industry as well as Broadway shows, network holiday specials, and a spectrum of other projects, Mr. Ford sees his work as “a witnessing tool in places where people least expect it.” His godly character and musical excellence set him apart from his peers, granting him the opportunity to “not just mentor, but be a father figure to many.”

He finishes our conversation with his mantra: “I want to bring fame to His name, and never bring shame to His name.” May it be so, glory to God.

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