The Kennedy Center

Be Steadwell


Be Steadwell is a singer-songwriter from Washington, D.C. With roots in jazz, a cappella, and folk music, she calls her music “queer pop.” In her live performances, she uses looping, vocal layering, and beatboxing to compose songs on stage. Her original music features earnest lyricism and proud LGBTQ messages.

In 2017, Be sang at the Women’s March on the National Mall behind Maxwell and Janelle Monae in Toshi Reagon’s BIGLovely band. In September, she opened for Big Freedia at D.C.’s Honeygroove Festival. In 2018, she is supported by a fellowship from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities and an award from the Astraea Global Arts Fund to produce her next album, Queer Love Songs.

With an MFA in film from Howard University, Be combines her love of music with narrative film by producing her own music videos. Her film Vow of Silence received awards at film festivals around the world, including Black Star, QWOCMAP, and Fringe Fest UK. She is currently touring her music and screening the film internationally.

Watch Past Performances

Video 7/7/2018: Roadwork's 40th Anniversary: Three Voices

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival celebrates Roadwork’s 40th anniversary as a D.C.-based multiracial coalition that puts women artists on the road locally and globally, with a performance featuring D.C. artists Ysaÿe Maria Barnwell, Be Steadwell, and Carolyn Malachi. Founded in 1978 by women leaders from African American civil rights, women’s, global justice, and lesbian-feminist movements, Roadwork aims at transforming consciousness and creating new movements in global arts and social justice.  You can learn more about Roadwork here.

Presented in collaboration with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. For more information, please visit

Video 11/15/2016: Strathmore Artist in Residence: Be Steadwell

Be Steadwell is a singer-songwriter and filmmaker who uses her roots in jazz, a cappella and folk music to present a blend which she calls “queer pop.”

Be Steadwell