Stephanie Urbina Jones
"Fiery Angel" is the perfect title for Stephanie Urbina Jones’ fifth album. It reflects who she is and what she has lived and loved through while making her most personal album to date. The San Antonio native is passionate about bringing the Hispanic and Latin heritage to the Country/Americana music worlds and beyond through her unique blend of bicultural music. It is through her collection of powerful Texicana country rock songs that she brings listeners on the journey that brought her through the wreckage to the resurrection of her heart and eventually to the revolución en her corazón.
“This music was my own baptism of fire,” says Jones, who wrote 9 of the album’s 11 songs. “I wrote through it all and thankfully came back with my heart singing and rising like a phoenix out of the ashes, living a more meaningful, grounded and grateful life than ever before. It would have been easy to walk away, but I wanted to give back the gifts I had been given through these songs. In them I found a faith and fire that moved me through the pain I was living to a better life on the other side.”
For the last few years, the Latin Country/Americana artist has been winning international acclaim while shattering traditional music industry boundaries and genres. The Austin American-Statesman says, “Stephanie has what most people would regard as the right tools for her chosen life’s work: an agile songwriter’s pen; a smoky supple voice; devastating good looks; and a refreshing lack of music orthodoxy. But Jones real gifts are an adamant determination, a healthy skepticism about fast buck payoffs, and a work ethic that would put John Henry and his hammer to shame.”
She got her first cut when country star Lorrie Morgan recorded “Shakin’ Things Up” and made it the title track of her album. Jones recorded it herself and became the first independent female artist to hit No. 1 on the Texas Music Chart, a spot she held for five weeks
She was featured in the national television series Troubadour, TX, starred in the Texas Western movie Courage and sang a duet with Willie Nelson at his world renowned 4th of July Picnic. She became a celebrated Kerrville New Folk Finalist and toured internationally, including appearances at the Montreaux Jazz Festival, CMA Music Festival, Magic Town Music Fest in Mexico, Country Rendez-vous in France, and Country Gold in Japan.
As her career exploded, other artists reached new heights with her songs. After winning NBC’s The Voice, Craig Wayne Boyd released her song “My Baby’s Got a Smile on Her Face,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Chart.
Though her path has been blessed in many ways, her greatest personal and professional challenge came in the midst of making this music. While working on an album for Equity Records, the label folded. Her marriage ended, leaving her adrift personally and professionally while raising her daughter. It was her defining moment: would she give up and abandon her music or write through the pain in hopes of living a better life on the other side? As she reveals on Fiery Angel, she is a believer and dreamer whose strength is as fierce as her talent and love. “Step by step, song by song, I moved from hopelessness to a life of love, passion and purpose,” says Jones, who has since remarried. “The songs were whispers from my soul, windows to a new world, guiding me to the life I am living now.”
The album opens with the Latin country anthem “Vamonos,” which extols the virtues of living with your heart wide open, while “Rose In The Wreckage,” “Life’s Too Short” and “The Resurrection of My Heart” depict the pain and path to forgiveness she experienced mid-divorce. She unleashes her anger (and a little bit of revenge) on “Run Out of Road”
The lullaby “Hold Me ‘Til the Lonelies Are Gone” remains the favorite song that she’s penned because it reminds her that she’s not alone. “I Wanna Dance with You” is her favorite song to sing because of the song’s fun, infectious spirit. “Part of the Latin culture is about enjoying life despite what your circumstances are. That is so important, and something I’ve had to learn,” she says. “To watch this song land on people’s hearts and get them dancing and smiling is one of the best things music can do.”
The album’s debut single, “Bring It Back to the Heartland,” speaks to those values that Americans at their core still revere – hope, confidence in their abilities to lift themselves up through their own hard work and perseverance, and giving themselves “dreams that have wings,” as the song asserts. “As a wife, mother and American, I have never experienced so much apathy, hopelessness and division in this country,” Jones says. “It makes me sad and fearful for my daughter’s future and everyone else’s.” She sees the song resonating around the country with audiences from all walks of life. “This song has hit such a cultural nerve that it brings people to their feet,” she reports. “This is not about politics, religion or corporations. It’s about people and bringing back the heart of what made this country great!”
Her heart, musical direction and dedication to helping others were shaped by growing up in San Antonio, where her grand- mother, Señora Jones, served as the unofficial welcome wagon of immigrants, whom she helped navigate in this strange new world while finding them jobs and housing. “I spent Sunday afternoons at my abuelita’s (grandmother’s) house where we would have barbecues in her backyard, listening to country greats like Waylon and Willie as well as border music from Mexico while mariachis rehearsed in the neighborhood. I was blessed to soak up all of these different cultures and music as a child.”
After her parents divorced she moved to the hill country town of Fredericksburg, Texas, where she spent weekends two-stepping in honkytonks and being immersed in the music of the Kerrville Folk Festival.
Her love of music began early, when she would listen to Carole King’s Tapestry and Linda Ronstadt albums on her record player. After graduating from the University of Texas, she decided that music was the only thing that she could put her heart into, so she landed music business jobs in Austin before moving to Nashville. After working for an artist management company and producer Randy Scruggs, she landed a songwriting deal with hit songwriter Jim McBride and Sony/ ATV/ Tree. She planned on remaining behind the scenes as a writer until she visited her dying grandmother, whose last words to her changed the course of her life.
“She took my hand and said, ‘Mija (little girl), you are going to be a voice for our people. Your music will carry our culture in song all over the world.’
“After she passed, I went to Mexico and studied because I wanted to know more about my Hispanic heritage. I fell in love with the people and their hearts and had an awakening that this was mine to do.” The first song she wrote in Mexico, “Revolución,” sparked her new career direction as a performer/songwriter.
With Fiery Angel, she arrives as a woman who inspires, a songwriter who bravely explores the heart’s darkest corners and a singer who interprets the highs and lows of life with vulnerability, passion and intimacy while carrying the heart of her bicultural roots to audiences all over the world. Her work is deeper and richer and she is more focused than ever before.
“One of the reasons why I wanted to put this album out, especially now that I am on the other side of it, is because maybe just maybe one of these songs will inspire someone else to keep moving through their own fire till they get to the other side. There is something powerful about the burning away of all of the things that I thought were important to make way for this great, inspired life to come through. If people can get a glimpse of believing or experiencing their own faith through my music, then my job is done.”