Over the last ten years, Lonnie Stevenson has been working hard to recover from traumas of childhood violence, abandonment, addiction, homelessness, and the criminal justice system. He started playing music and singing in the early 90s as a way to explore his spirituality through song while in prison, and found that music was what took him to his “happy place,” allowing him to transcend everything going on around him.
Lonnie was in and out of jail for more than 30 years as a result of drug use and petty crime, and was never out for more than three years at a time until his most recent release. After he was released in 2008, he lived in homelessness for three years. In his words, “he was no spring chicken,” but was stuck carrying his bags from place to place. He eventually found a way into housing, and has stayed out of prison for ten years now.
In 2015, Lonnie found Path with Art through Social Service Partner, Catholic Housing Services. Since then, he’s taken classes in filmmaking and writing, and been a part of the Path with Art Singers. In 2016, he took a class with Teaching Artist Anna Balint called “Writing Loss,” which focused on writing about grief. It gave him the opportunity to be vulnerable, to let out some of the things he was holding inside around the loss of his mother and sister.
More recently through Path with Art, Lonnie took Camille Bloom’s Introduction to Songwriting class, which was one of the many classes that performed on April 4th at Seattle Art Museum for Spring Voices Performing Arts Showcase.
“[Camille] trusted us to put something together. It was a collective effort – she split us up into groups, I contributed to a verse, and the fact of singing with everyone was enough for me. Just being a part of something, the unity.”
Lonnie regularly attends Path with Art’s monthly jam sessions, singing and playing keyboard with other participants. He has even brought his daughter, with whom he has been working to rebuild his relationship, to a jam session to share the experience with her.
“Very rarely have I seen a program with no strings attached. It’s just a positive offering, unconditionally. Very seldom do you find some place really reaching their hand out saying, ‘we’ll meet you at the place where you already are.’”