After studying clarinet and music theory at the NSW Conservatorium of Music, Steve started his professional life as a saxophonist, playing modern jazz, be-bop and avant garde in the 70’s jazz revival scene in Sydney. These were ‘heady’ days, jamming, sitting in, performing at several clubs a night, and living like there was no tomorrow. Personal reflection finally took Steve on a spiritual quest and the next phase of his life was spent in studying religion, theology, and working on the streets with marginalized youth and adults.
With more than 25 years experience in the music business in Australia and internationally, and 40 years as a priest, theologian, writer, and social justice advocate, Steve brings a unique combination of talent and expertise to his role as president of Blue Empress Music. Following his career as a musician in the 70’s, he went on to earn four degrees and worked as a social justice advocate, pastor, and University lecturer, specialising in religion, cultural anthropology, ethnomusicology, and education. He has a particular interest in the relationship between spirituality, culture, social justice, and the arts. After leaving academia he freelanced in organisational renewal, entrepreneurship, and change management, conducting seminars and consultancies around the world, particularly with indigenous communities. He is a noted speaker, writer, lecturer, and workshop facilitator.
Steve also spent many years in partnership with Australian Aboriginal communities, working together with indigenous leaders in community development, advocacy, and the challenges of bi-culturalism. He is known in the Wongkatha community as ‘Kyupi-Kyupi’ – the desert whirlwind. Widely travelled, Steve has lived in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. He has worked in SE Asia, the Pacific Islands, Nth America, Europe and the United Kingdom.
In 2001 Steve founded the Blue Empress Music Group, a unique management, recording, and consultancy service for emerging blues performers. His clients include artists who have gone onto to win the International Blues Challenge, WC Handy Blues Music Awards and nominations, and more than 20 Australian peak music performance and recording awards. He is a highly experienced manager, agent, festival booker, executive producer, and promoter. Steve has worked with some of the world’s finest blues artists, including Hubert Sumlin, Alvin ‘Youngblood’ Hart, Bob Margolin, Fiona Boyes, Rich DelGrosso, Mookie Brill, Duke Robillard, and Robert ‘Wolfman’ Belfour. He looks forward to serving the musician, club owners, festivals, and audiences who are keeping the blues alive.
Steve is a member of the Music mangers Forum (Int’l), The Blues Foundation, and the Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR). He is a judge at the International Bleus Challenge, held every February in Memphis. Formerly residing in Canberra, Australia’s national capital, he was the Director of Mission and Social Justice at Anglicare, one of Australia’s largest social welfare and advocacy agencies, Associate Priest at St Phillip’s Anglican Church, O’Connor, and a lecturer in the School of Theology, Faculty of Arts at Charles Sturt University. He served as Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in Sale, Victoria, Chapter Member of St Barnabas Abbey on Raymond Island, Board of Governors member of the Gippsland Grammar School, and Director of Continuing Clergy Development for the Diocese of Gippsland. He is currently Canon for the Arts in the Diocese of Canberra-Goulburn.
Steve is married to international blues and recording artist Fiona Boyes and has five children and ten grandchildren.
‘In my opinion Steve Clarke is one of the most influential music business people operating between our two countries and cultures… He has distinguished himself as an entrepreneur and is quite clearly recognized as a specialist manager, agent, and advisor by the international and national markets’ – Chip Eagle, owner and publisher, Visionation, Blues revue/Blues Wax/Dirty Linen magazines.