NBC: Detroit artist overcomes speaking disability through beatboxing
DETROIT - Beatboxing is not just a form of music -- it's an art. When executed correctly, beatboxing can replicate almost any instrument in any song.
To Detroit artist Stevie Soul, beatboxing is not just a special talent he pulls out at parties -- it's a passion he practices every day.
When Stevie was a kid, he had a speaking disability and stuttering problem. When he would try to speak, funny sounds -- instead of words -- would come out of his mouth.
"it was rough. Kids would make fun of me," Stevie said. "Stuttering is an odd thing; you never see it coming. It just hits. One second you have full control -- the next, you can barely speak."
Stevie was able to take those funny sounds, and turn them into beats and patterns. This ultimately helped him form sentences in an easier way.
As a result of this struggle -- a beatboxer was born.
"I started beatboxing, banging on the desks in class while my classmates were singing and rapping," said Stevie. "The same kids that were picking on me before were constantly asking me to 'do that thing that you do.'-"
For years to come, Stevie would showcase his beatboxing and singing talent around the world.
Since those days, Stevie has performed in front of large audiences, produced music for national commercials and collaborated with some of Detroit's best-known artists. He even performed at SXSW in 2016.
Working with Detroit's Y Arts of the YMCA and the College for Creative Studies - Stevie has been able to take his talent to the classroom.
"Teaching something -- it makes you so much better at whatever you're teaching. It was an added benefit. Getting to work with kids, keeping music and art alive in our schools -- and at the same time, practicing my craft in a new environment," said Stevie.
Fast forward to 2016 -- Stevie Soul is bringing his now well-known beatboxing talent to a different platform -- the Internet.
The latest challenge he's taking on is one imposed by himself: post a beatboxing video on Instagram every single day in 2016. With more than three months under his belt, he's not slowing down.
"Instagram was the perfect platform for me to showcase and test new material. It also has given people a glimpse into my life," said Stevie. "This project has helped me to understand that variety, experimentation, and collaboration is important for artists."
The daily video challenge includes beatboxing covers of popular songs, game show tunes, and collaborations with other artists.
With 365 videos to produce (plus a leap year bonus), the challenge will be finding ways to keep creating fresh ideas.
"I'm not running out of ideas. I get inspired every day," said Stevie. "Every minute of the day, I think about how I can challenge myself to create fresh material."
Along with beatboxing, Stevie also writes and performs his own music. He's currently working on a new EP, which features his raspy blues vocal style, paired with his staple beatboxing sound.
"It's a great time to be a Detroit artist -- there's a very collaborative spirit here right now," said Stevie. "You have fashion designers mixing with musicians, street artists mixing with restaurants. There's an open creative platform. The opportunity to collaborate has never been so vastly available."
If you'd like to follow Stevie's challenge, check out his Instagram page.