By Anthony Galliano
Steve Graham has written other people’s stories for decades in the pages of newspapers and magazines. But when you ask him about his own story, he says it’s not very interesting. He’s just a little reluctant to talk about himself. But then he begins and says, “I was born in Beirut during the first month of the Lebanese Civil War back in 1975.”
His father, who worked in the oil industry, was in Egypt at the time, and his mother wanted to see her family in Lebanon. So she flew home, and only learned about the outbreak of conflict upon her arrival. Steve was born in a hospital hallway because all the beds were moved away from windows—outside, snipers were perched on building tops. Shortly after, Steve retuned to Cairo with his mother.
The family moved to Perth, the capital city of Western Australia, where Steve went to elementary school. Then it was off to Jakarta, Indonesia, where he went to high school. Steve came to Colorado for the first time at 16 when his father took him on a bike trip through Breckenridge and Vail, and fell in love with the Centennial State.
So he moved to Colorado for college. At CU Boulder, other students may have been belting down beer and tequila shots, but Steve was the conscientious student. “I guess I got that out of my system when I was really young,” he says. In Jakarta, apparently the law is a little more slack. “I was out at dance clubs and drinking when I was 14, which you can’t get away with here.” Steve was editor of the college newspaper, and after he graduated with degrees in journalism and political science, he went to work for papers in Colorado and California, both as a writer and editor.
He has always been a “music nerd.” Writing about music, though, was a side gig before joining Scene last fall. Covering the music beat, Steve’s found that he likes writing about up-and-coming artists more than anything else. “When I’ve talked to people who’ve made it and been doing this for a while, they’re almost on autopilot when you interview them,” he says. But artists who are struggling to get their music out to the world are still thrilled to talk about their work. “The poise and the passion and the talent of these kids who are like a third of my age, and what they’re able to do is so neat,” he says.
Steve devotes much of his free time to grassroots activism and working with local nonprofits. His years in Indonesia were a lesson in social inequities, and he was inspired to confront this in his own life. “I was living in a country where there was just destitute, abject poverty and a handful of incredibly rich people,” he says. “A government that was created by and for those rich people did less than nothing for the millions of other people in the country.” He spends the rest of his time raising his two young sons.
“I’m just fascinated by people’s stories and what makes them tick and what leads them to do what they do,” Steve says. By now, we’ve read many of those stories in Scene. So it’s great to finally hear Steve’s story.