Two Musicians Hit the Right Notes, With Practice
Samantha Laurense Stevens stared at Kazemde George in 2014 in a flirty way until he asked her out after one of their gospel ensemble rehearsals at the New England Conservatory of Music. Mr. George, a bit shy, got the message.
“Do you want to chill sometime?” he asked. The day after Valentine’s Day they had their first date, she said, at a “super divey bar” in Davis Square in Somerville, Mass. They also had their first kiss.
Ms. Stevens, 29, a singer-songwriter, who goes by Sami, and Mr. George, 30, a tenor saxophonist-composer, met three years earlier in a neo soul band at the New England Conservatory, from which each graduated as part of a dual degree program — she with a bachelor’s degree in jazz performance and another in psychology from Tufts and he with a master’s degree in jazz composition and a bachelor’s in neurobiology from Harvard.
“We were spending a lot of time in a social atmosphere,” she said, basically playing house parties, random clubs and tours with the band. Each was already in a relationship, and both had rigorous course loads.
In 2014, with each no longer in a serious relationship, they got closer while in the gospel group. After their first date they started seeing each other regularly, at first cautiously. They soon got comfortable enough, she said, for her “to crash,” just for the summer, at his place.
“We felt a strong connection,” he said. “We also got into intense arguments.”
That fall they broke up before she left to study in Paris, and Mr. George moved to East Flatbush, Brooklyn, to jump-start his music career in New York. In January 2015, Ms. Stevens, just back from Paris, moved to Crown Heights, Brooklyn, nearby. After he stopped by her apartment to pick her up before a friend’s show, amid hugs and tears, they quickly got back together.
“Pretty early on Caz started running a jazz session, mainly at Parkside, a pizza place in P.L.G.,” short for Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, she said, and she soon moved in with him and his roommates.
By 2016, they got their own place in East Flatbush, where a keyboard and drum set are usually out. They practice on and off for hours, and he likes to cook, especially trying out “grandmother” recipes on YouTube from different cultures.
“We’re a 24/7 hang couple,” she said. “We’re constantly collaborating and giving each other feedback.”
They each regularly perform original music, often together and mainly at clubs and private events around New York City. They also teach privately. Ms. Stevens is the lead singer for Tredici Bacci, a soundtrack music band in New York. She also wrote and recorded a soul and rhythm and blues album “And, I’m Right,” released in 2017, and is working on another. Mr. George, also a teaching artist at public city high schools, performs with Mélange, an Afro-Cuban Latin jazz band led by Kali Rodriguez-Pena. Mr. George’s album, “I Insist,” with original jazz, Black-American music, is to be released Oct. 22.
While unwinding some evenings he plays “Dunas,” their favorite Brazilian song by Rosa Passos, on keyboard. He typically sings it once through in Portuguese, then Ms. Stevens, while lounging on the couch, sings it the second time around. Then they sing it together.
Mr. George proposed Christmas Eve 2019 while they were visiting her parents at their ski cabin in Sugarloaf, Maine. When he suggested they take a walk, she brought along Goober, her family’s black Labrador retriever, who pulled her along even as Mr. George got down on one knee.
They planned to get married, with 150 guests, in August 2020, at her parent’s house by Cobbosseecontee Lake in East Winthrop, Maine, but postponed their plans amid the pandemic.
On Aug. 7, Kevin Scott, a Universal Life minister, officiated there before 100 guests, and a musician played the kora, a West African long-necked harplike instrument. Many guests then swam in the lake, and celebrated with a lobster clam bake.
Two days later, Ms. Stevens performed original songs at an outdoor concert series in Rangeley, Maine, and Mr. George joined her on sax for a few.
“Oh, I just can’t help myself,” she said.
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