“If you listen carefully now you will hear…” –Bob Marley
Who would ever think that I would be writing these words, let alone telling the tale that is unfolding.
Steven, Stevie, Max, Steven Max… Steven Max Stern. The little boy who dreamed to create music since childhood, who never gave up on this hobby despite the trials and tribulations we ALL face in life, on Sunday the 9th of April, 2017, recorded “Jah Light” with The Wailers, one of the many songs he has written over time, this one 25 years ago, inspired by one of his favorite bands, Bob Marley and The Wailers.
Like ‘the little engine that could’, traveling from South Africa, to Israel, to Wisconsin, to New York, to Indiana, to New Orleans, to Virginia, to Kansas, to California, to Israel, to Miami and many places in between… He has never given up the fight.
In November 2014, Steven was diagnosed with advanced stage 4 lung cancer. This is no longer a secret. He talks about it publicly, has a blog, has written an online book, presented to a class at a University, jokes about it, cries about it, and deals with it 24 hours a day. But mostly, tries to ignore it and the ‘job’ associated with it, so he can live life as fully as possible.
That is what this is all about. The miracle of embracing life, the gift we’ve been given, despite all circumstances and odds. To take what we have been given and make the best of it.
Last December after a very rough ride on treatments and complications that started earlier that year around February/March, he decided that he now felt good enough to get on an airplane to go to New York for the open America’s Got Talent auditions early February 2017. Perhaps crazy, but it got him out and about and he had an amazing week in New York visiting with over 25 friends, some of whom he hadn’t seen in over 25 years. That last Friday there, he went to the audition to sing ‘Waiting in Vain’, a Bob Marley and The Wailers song.
Behind the scenes, his close friend, Steve Einzig, who knows Junior Marvin professionally and is also a close personal friend, asked if he’d be willing to join Steven, potentially. You can all guess why. He said of course immediately! Unfortunately, not because of lack of desire, but because of schedule conflicts, Junior was unable to make it in the very end. No problem as Steven still went with an open heart and for the fun. Embrace life.
The America’s Got Talent story didn’t progress after the audition, but the seed that was planted started to grow. The AGT inspiration to get out and come down to the audition was enough for him, even if it didn’t catch, they, along with many, inspired him to get up and live and to take a chance. That is everything.
As he loves music and Einzig is an avid musician (so many of us are aren’t we? – both listening to and/or singing it and/or playing it as well on our own collection of instruments!) – Steven sent Einzig a demo of “Jah Light” that was made nearly 9 years ago. Steve really liked it. With permission he passed it along to Junior. Amidst the excitement of their new tour and so many wonderful new things going on for them, The Wailers, along with Junior said they may be interested to record the song between tour dates, in Miami, at Bad Lions Studio.
Things moved fairly quickly from there as Steven, who had already been in touch with Junior for the potential support for AGT, asked Junior, that if things line up, and if he feels well enough to travel, can he come see a show and watch them in the studio on those dates? It sounded like a great idea.
Four days before the 7th of April, it was confirmed and Steven bought a plane ticket and got a hotel in Miami Beach. On the 7th he landed, that Friday afternoon, greeted by another close friend to settle in smoothly after the trip from Tel Aviv. On Saturday night, he went to meet the band and to see them perform, for him a huge honor and treat. Jah music soothes the soul. That Sunday around noon, they went to Aston Jr and Alaina Reed’s studio and what happened next is why I am sitting here writing this.
The Wailers and their families and friends opened their hearts to Steven and let him come into their lives just but for an instant, to grant him a wish, to record a song, his song. What transpired is nothing short of a miracle, certainly magical. As much as Steven got his wish, the band was equally inspired by the song, the words, the meaning, the story, the significance of what it means to ‘rage in Jah Light’ on a daily basis (we all do in our own way). It resonates deeply.
A decision was made that The Wailers want to record this song themselves and release it on the upcoming LP along with telling Steven’s story as it is now a part of theirs too.
Steven is currently planning his trip back to Miami, this May, to be with his new family, on part of their tour, to share the magic, to record more, to write more, to be part of their documentary, to be inspired and to try inspire those around him and to heal. To him, this is the greatest gift imaginable, this is his true life passion, this is what he has been blessed with, along with his curse. He is truly dancing in “Jah Light”.
My friends, the Zion train is coming our way, rare, unheard of, as it came by once and we didn’t ever expect it was going to come by again. Those of us who hear it, should get onboard. Steven considers himself blessed to be onboard, you have to ‘catch the train cuz there’s no other station’, it is one way, it is eternal and he is humbled and honored to have been handed a ticket.
Dream big, work hard and never give up (the fight). You never know what good things may be around the corner in this crazy miraculous world we are spinning on. We are all gifted, ever so briefly, with this thing called life. We are all, “jammin’ dancer rockin’, raging… raging in Jah Light”.