Charles Stepney

We owe a debt of gratitude to the voice of The Psychedelic Sound.

Charles Stepney came into his own having studied the Schillinger System by

himself. Producing, composing and playing when the music industry needed a hero!

Charles Stepney

Chicago’s Most Prolific Man of Music

March 26, 1931-May 16, 1976

We were honored to be in contact with Ms. Charlene Stepney-Wright, the daughter, and administrator or the Charles Stepney Foundation.

Over the course of our conversations, she confirmed that her father Charles Stepney was a big fan of the Schillinger System of Musical Composition. She shared with us some of her father’s history with the Schillinger System.

She recounts: “As a young man Stepney fantasized about studying music at the internationally known NYC Julliard School of Art. Unfortunately, he lacked the money and/or connections to attend Julliard.  He was able to get both volumes of The Schillinger System of Musical Composition and on his own studied books and the techniques that were utilized to teach Julliard students. His favorite book was “The Schillinger System of Musical Composition” by Joseph Schillinger.  He carried it with him everywhere he went.” The Stepney Foundation still has his markings and notes on his copy of the fourth edition print which they hold as a prized possession

Ms. Stepney-Wright did disclose a story about her father with a chuckle. Mrs. Stepney, Charles’ wife was not so much of a fan of these two books. It had been told in the family that while Mrs. Stepney labored with the birth of her child, Charles could be found studying these books and had begun drawing and graphing musical charts on the floor of the delivery room in the hospital. By all reports, Charles was never without his Schillinger books. Mrs. Stepney would attest to that.

Stepney’s associations form a veritable Who’s Who of music. Stepney has written, arranged, produced and performed vast and varied assortments of music for Blues, Jazz and Soul greats Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Etta James, Ramsey Lewis, Buddy Guy, the Dells, Eddie Harris, Minnie Riperton, Phil Upchurch, Rotary Connection, Terry Callier, the Emotions, Deniece Williams and Earth, Wind and Fire.

In another interview with Mr. Muhal Richards Abrahm he also told of how Stepney carried those books everywhere and it was Stepney that first introduced the system to Mr. Abrams who himself began the study and teach and become an advocate for the teaching of the Schillinger System.