Just as you’ve got to crawl before you can walk, you've got to talk before you can sing. Not so, say the parents of exceptional young talent, Stephanie Toney: "Stephanie was singing before she was talking," Now 16 years old, Stephanie’s YouTube performances have garnered thousands upon thousands of views. And it’s no wonder, as the unique sound of Stephanie Toney has been described as calm, soothing, and “hauntingly beautiful, in the same captivating vein of megastars Sarah MacLaughlan and Enya.”
To be so young and so talented is an extraordinary thing. Even more remarkable is the fact that Stephanie is a self-taught musician. She has had no vocal training (aside from two years in high school choir), not a single guitar lesson, and she also taught herself to play the piano. She has taken violin lessons, and quickly became an accomplished violinist.
At only 8 years of age, Stephanie was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. Born to Dwayne Toney of England and Soyeon of South Korea, Stephanie has a strong support system at home. It was during her treatment at Primary Children's Hospital that Stephanie discovered music as a therapeutic method to calm and relax herself, and as an outlet for her emotions. While a young 8 year old Stephanie surely did not know that clinical studies have actually shown a strong correlation between musical therapy and increased healing, her commitment to music was solidified during that time.
Accompanying herself with her guitar, Stephanie sounds like a seasoned musician. Her captivating voice is a tool to help lift the burdens of others. Stephanie has shared her desire to bear testimony through music. She is excited to stand as a witness of God in the music she plays and the way she performs. Stephanie's most recent YouTube upload, “Mary Did You Know,” was recently picked up by LDS Living and has generated a lot of excitement online, as well as in the Toney home. Many have shared their appreciation for the beautiful way she performs such a touching song about the birth of our Savior.
Back in September of this year, Stephanie captured my attention online for a reason other than music. Many friends on social media were sharing pictures of their daughters or sons on Homecoming dates. Of all the young LDS girls, Stephanie stood out to me. She was dressed in a gorgeous, modest blue dress. She looked like a beautiful, classy young woman. The elegant and classic modesty Stephanie exhibited made such a statement to me. Stephanie states that, "Modesty is probably one of the things that means the most to me."
As a mother of three young girls myself, her lovely blend of modesty and style makes her an excellent role model to my daughters. But her positive influence doesn't stop there. Even with her commitment to music, she is also very devoted to her academics. She has a 4.0 GPA and has her sights set on a presidential scholarship in college, where she'd like to pursue computer programming. Stephanie's parents are proud of her on so many levels, and above all, are grateful for her heart and testimony of the gospel.
Hear Stephanie and her amazing talent on her YouTube channel: