Stephen Kellogg is one of the lucky ones; he always knew what he wanted to be when he grew up. “I met my wife when I was 15,” he recalls. “One of the first things I told her was that I was going to be a singer. I said it with more confidence than I felt at the time, but I think on some subconscious level I knew what was coming.” Kellogg was walking around the house singing when he was five. “I grew up in Southern Connecticut, a place without many
bohemians or artists, at least that I was aware of. I would occasionally go to these family pig roasts in Massachusetts and my uncles would play music. I got some inspiration from that but it was mostly a slow process of assimilating the sounds I heard on the records my parents and older sister played.”
Kellogg listened to everything from folk to metal, but it was live music that really inspired him. “There are four concerts that illuminated my path. When I was 10, Whitesnake impressed me with their showmanship and ability to
work a crowd. In high school, the Grateful Dead made me realize it was possible to paint a new canvas every night. A Ryan Adams show I saw some years later gave me a glimpse of music that reminded me of how I felt about life and gave me something to shoot for and John Prine made me realize one guy and a guitar can elevate 10,000 people. Those moments led me to what I’m doing right now.
“I’ve been keeping journals since grade school and sang in bands in high school and college. I was always the lead singer and I’d write songs with whomever was playing lead guitar. I didn’t start playing guitar until college. I knew I wanted to write my own songs, so I had to learn how to play and sing to be able to do it. I recently gave a TED Talk (TED is a non-profit organization that seeks to inspire people by presenting short autobiographical talks by important artists and innovators.) about my path to job satisfaction. I was already 25, with a wife and family, when I began my proper musical career. I tell people that, despite the problems we all face, the opportunities we have in this country are amazing. In my life and in my music, I want to bring people together. “
At the University of Massachusetts in Northampton, Kellogg fronted his own band. "We were the kings of the keg parties," Kellogg recalls. "I felt like a rock star until graduation; then figured I had to settle down into a more traditional job, like many young artists do.”
After a few years, Kellogg realized he wouldn’t be happy unless he made music. He dedicated himself to his songwriting and performing. “I realized it was better to be at the bottom of a ladder you want to climb, than at the top of one you don’t. I started playing four-hour sets at a local steak house, just me and my guitar.” Kellogg worked any venue that would let him on stage, booked his own shows, managed himself and, with the money he earned, started a label, hand delivering his CDs – “Early Hits,” “South of Stephen” and “Lucky Eleven” to indie record stores. By 2003, Stephen Kellogg and his band The Sixers were playing 250 shows a year. They generated major label interest with Bulletproof Heart, a self-produced album, and signed with Universal for their eponymous national debut. They followed it with three successful outings: Glassjaw Boxer, The Bear and Gift Horse, but after almost a decade on the
road, The Sixers decided to take a break. ”There was no acrimony,” Kellogg says. “We all wanted to see what else we might be able to do. I feel like I’m back at the beginning again with just my voice and a guitar and I’m enjoying it more than ever.
“I make music for two reasons,” Kellogg stresses. “To provide for my family and to share my thoughts with people who might be interested in hearing them. If I can have a positive impact on anybody, I want to reach that person, be they family members, friends, or fans, old and new. The work I leave behind will be my legacy to my family. That’s what keeps me going.”