Having performed with Grammy-nominated artists across the United States, Mexico, Canada, and Europe, the flutist, singer, and occasional visual artist Justine Stephens (she/they pronouns) has taken the world by storm. A New Yorker by birth and at heart, her art shares the ethos of the city that never sleeps, melding together disparate genres, cultures, and timbres to create uniquely human music. The concert hall, an open mic, a church cathedral—all are stages that Justine’s music has been known to frequent, with her online performances acknowledged by The New York Times. Joined with a lengthy body of work in the visual and performing arts nonprofit sector, Justine seeks to broaden music’s reach and impact on its listeners.
As one who favors spontaneity in her life and music making, Justine’s current work aligns most closely with jazz and neo-soul, a journey that began upon their jazz debut feature in the 2011 short film Kuvuka Daraja, a work featured in both the International Black Women’s Film Festival in San Francisco and the Zanzibar International Film Festival. Her recent sets cover the music of soul greats, Black spirituals, and soaring improvisations over live looped beats.
Justine has given more than 70 world premieres of contemporary classical music. One of Justine’s favorite performances came at the 2015 National Flute Association Convention, where they shared the stage with Flutronix, Sarah Brady, Cristina Ballatori, and more playing a range of electronic music to a beatboxed cello arrangement by Mara Miller, all while sketching a real-time charcoal drawing surrounding the audience. Other premieres have come at the Interchurch Center and St. John the Divine in New York City.
"Justine played the flute at a book event.
She was the best part of the night!"
- Literary Hub, on Kem Joy Ukwu's launch of Locked Gray / Linked Blue
Conversant in many genres, Justine draws her influences equally from groups like Project Trio and Tank and the Bangas, to early Renaissance motets, to Minnie Riperton and Amy Winehouse. As a chamber musician, she has spent time performing suling within Gamelan Dharma Swara, one of the leading Balinese gamelan and dance groups in the United States. Justine often performs as a singer, shaped by their childhood of learning to sing concurrently alongside the flute. Growing up, she sang countless times in cathedrals throughout the northeastern United States, England, and Scotland with the St. Paul’s on the Green Choir, and continues to sing today.
Justine dedicates much of her time to the nonprofit sector, giving back to the very cultural institutions that inspired her during her formative years. Currently, she serves on the board of Seabury Academy of Music and the Arts and the music committee of the Norwalk Art Space, which both promote and provide accessible art opportunities in her hometown and surrounding area. Previously, Justine served on the board of Music Beyond, which during her tenure served communities within the Democratic Republic of the Congo. An active arts administrator, they also proudly contributed to radical, needed change and success of the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, American Ballet Theatre, Carnegie Hall, The Metropolitan Opera, and flutemaker Burkart Flutes and Piccolos.
Justine holds education from Ithaca College (B.M.), with additional training in career development from The Juilliard School and movement training from Solange. When not performing, she has written for Babbel Magazine and The Flute View, and has been interviewed for her community work on the Pulitzer Prize-winning podcast This American Life. In addition, she was the Performance Keynote Speaker for McGill University's 34th annual Music Graduate Symposium in 2021. They are endlessly grateful for her former flute teachers: Wendy Herbener Mehne, Bärli Nugent, Jessica Raposo, and Elizabeth Harris, as well as her first choir director, Vince Edwards. Justine performs on a handmade Haynes flute finished in 2004, with a Haynes Fusion headjoint, and they are a sponsored artist for CloudVocal wireless microphones.