December 5, 2013

Our Neighbors: ‘An instant connection’ to music



“I was getting ready to sign a lease agreement with some guys I met on Craig’s List,” Stephens said.  “The day before I was going to sign the lease, my car broke down and it cost me all the money I had except $30, the amount of money it would take to get home to Kentucky.”

Facing financial hardship, Stephens decided to come home.

“I felt so lost, musically and with everything in life,” Stephens said.  “I always felt like I was so alone, so I wrote it down hoping that some day I’d run into someone who was singing about the same things I was going through.”

That’s when he decided to visit his friend, Leah Hatmaker.

“Leah was just a friend for years,” Stephens said.  “She was someone I trusted and I valued her opinion very much.  She was a lot like me, a kite floating in the wind trying to find a place in life.”

Shortly after that, Stephens and Hatmaker started singing together.

In early spring, Stephens and Hatmaker were sitting together at You and Me Coffee and Tea in Corbin near closing time.  Hatmaker saw a guitar sitting near the stage and started playing.  After a brief conversation and the recommendation of a friend, they had landed their first real gig together.

They had nine days to figure out a two-hour-long playlist.

Stephens and Hatmaker worked tirelessly and came up with 20 original songs for their show.

“Our first show was almost a full house,” Stephens said.  “You and Me Coffee and Tea can hold like 110 people.  We played for two hours and did very few covers.  We were nervous, but were really proud of our music and hoped it conveyed the story of what I was going through in life.”

A short time later, Stephens and Hatmaker began dating and began playing shows together on a regular basis.

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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
C. Kentucky has a lot of wonderful state parks, and we plan to visit a few and enjoy quality family time.
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