Whether she was singing along with her Reba Live tape on a front porch stage, interviewing guests from her make-shift radio station or plotting the next episode of her Barbie doll soap opera, Stephanie Willis’ love for entertaining people was obvious at a young age. She was born a dreamer and raised in a rural mountain township where creativity was a necessary ingredient for a fun time. Two mountains away from the nearest town, she learned early that with passion and hard work, dreams are within reach.
Growing up on a tobacco farm in Spring Creek, North Carolina, working wasn’t optional. By 16, she was working a part time job and singing at churches and civic events on weekends. As part of a high school senior project that required a work study, Willis obtained an internship at Asheville’s biggest radio station, WKSF. Upon graduation, she was offered an entry-level position at WKSF’s sister station, WWNC, engineering sports shows and weekend broadcasts. Willis longed to be the song on the radio, but playing the hits was the next best thing.
While working and going to school for a degree in broadcasting, Willis crossed paths with an artist manager with music industry connections in Nashville. One opportunity led to another, and Willis moved to Nashville to pursue her dream of becoming a country music singer. She signed a management deal with veteran artist manager John Dorris (Blake Shelton, Montgomery Gentry), which led to a songwriting deal with Dorris’ publishing company, Broadvision. In 2008, her lifelong dream came true. Willis’ all-female band, The Delilahs, signed a development deal with Sony Records. Less than a year later, the band split up.
Fresh out of childhood dreams, Willis embraced the unfamiliar experience of living blindly. It was a classroom viewing of Earthlings, a documentary on animal cruelty, that sparked her biggest passion: helping animals. She advocates for animal welfare and volunteers as director of public relations for Agape Animal Rescue, a Nashville non-profit organization that rescues, fosters and finds homes for abused and abandoned dogs. Since 2012, she has chaired the dog rescue’s large-scale fundraising events, Glitter and Glam and Agape Animal Ball.
Willis, who considers herself a cause-driven person, has a passion for working with non-profit organizations like Agape Animal Rescue, Hands On Nashville, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, The Friendship House and other organizations that are making a difference in her community.
A recent graduate of Belmont University, Willis is the epitome of a multi-tasker. She freelances in public relations, event planning and tv/video production. She writes and produces jingles and radio commercials for Willisoundz, a recording studio and publishing company she co-owns with her husband, award-winning studio guitarist, composer, and producer John D. Willis. She continues to sing background vocals and write songs for other artists.
In 2013, Willis joined the popular web show Pensado’s Place as producer and Nashville correspondent, working alongside Grammy award-winning mix engineer Dave Pensado and music industry mogul Herb Trawick.
Willis spends her down time with her husband, son and three Chihuahuas, blogging about adoption and working on her first book chronicling the adoption of her son....which will eventually explain why she calls herself, "The YouTube Mom," so stay tuned!