Sevyn StreeterEXPAND
Sevyn Streeter
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Sevyn Streeter on Overcoming Depression and Stepping Into the Spotlight

Songwriters rarely get enough credit. Other than a small thank-you in fine print, the writers of your favorite hits are often left in dust. While you’re jamming in your car because you’re stuck in I-95 traffic, do you ever think about who wrote the song you’re singing? Nine times out of ten, it wasn’t the artist performing it. Instead, it might have been Sevyn Streeter.

Born Amber Denise Streeter in Haines City, Florida, Sevyn Streeter has been on both the performing and songwriting sides of the music industry. She began her career in girl groups such as Rich Girl and TG4, neither of which lasted long. In 2012, she went solo with her first single, “I Like It,” which allowed her to flex as a performer. She continued that path with her first EP, Call Me Crazy But..., featuring her first Top 40 single, “It Won’t Stop.”

Though performing earned Streeter the spotlight she deserved, songwriting also played a big role in her life. “I’ve always loved writing,” she says. But it's also a struggle. “When I write for myself, I have to battle with myself on how much I will reveal.”

Streeter’s songwriting process isn’t typical. She doesn't begin with a beat in her head or lyrics in mind. “The vibe comes first,” she says. “The vibe can be how I’m feeling that day, how I’m dressed, current situations, but in all, it’s all about the vibe.”

From the vibe comes the melody. “I carry whatever vibe I have with me to the studio to lay down melodies. I piece things together with the beat, but I always try to be honest with myself in writing.”

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Streeter has racked up credits that include Chris Brown’s "Fine China," "Strip," and "Wet the Bed," along with popular tunes for Ariana Grande, Usher, Alicia Keys, Tamar Braxton, and others. But she's also suffered from depression, hindering the release of her debut album. "I dealt with depression on a very serious level for like a year and a half, and I never said anything to my fans. Obviously, my mom and my dad and my brother, a few family members, knew about it — but it was really, really hard,” she admits. “I wanted to kill myself, I really did.”

Through her family and faith in God, Streeter says, she was able to put everything into perspective. “Something in you just kicks in and goes, You’ve been doing this 15 years for no reason? The 15-year-old version of you, who has been waiting for this moment, should literally beat your ass,” she says.

After conquering depression, Streeter began to roll out content for her debut album, Girl Disrupted, released in the summer of 2016. The project included the singles "Prolly" and "Before I Do," which led her back into the performers' spotlight.

When I first started this journey of writing this album, all I thought of was just making, you know, good songs," she explains on her single "Livin'." "I want the drums to be like this and the keys to be like this and the guitar to be like this. Then I came across this title, Girl Disrupted, and I loved it so much. Little did I know that that shit was actually gonna happen to me in life for real.

Ultimately, Streeter's 15-year journey allowed her to become well rounded as an artist. From contributing to girl groups and writing for the majors to finding herself in her music, she proved that being involved from pen to vocals allows her to keep the full creative control she wants in her music.

“This album for me is more than just music," she says. "[It's] love, loyalty, and liberation.”

Sevyn Streeter. With Patti LaBelle. 7 p.m. Sunday, May 13, at the James L. Knight Center, 400 SE Second Ave., Miami; 305-416-5970; jlkc.com. Tickets cost $50 to $200 via ticketmaster.com.

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