As a singer, Steve believes in the healing power of music, crediting
the writing of The Last
having saved his life, and his personal brand of musical storytelling
appears in his ever-evolving solo concert, "Living in the Bonus
Round," which has been featured at such prestigious venues as Harvard
University, Stanford University, Indiana University, Penn State, and
many other major universities, colleges, high schools, concert halls,
coffee houses and living rooms across the country.
As an actor, he's appeared in his own shows, both on the road and
off-Broadway, and he produces home made music videos and video blogs
with his partner, Jim (youtube.com/steveshack) featuring many of the
celebrities from Brochu's long life in the New York theater. He
credits Brochu with teaching him about theatrical
He has released two solo albums, "Bonus Round Sessions" and "Beyond The
Light," with proceeds benefiting Youth Guardian Services
a peer support group for GLBT youth and their straight allies.
created in March of 1996, "Living in the Bonus Round," has twice been
featured in the New York Times for his groundbreaking use of the
Internet in creating one of the first personal online AIDS diaries, a
"proto-blog." Named a Landmark website by Yahoo/GeoCities, it was
created from his deathbed (except that he didn't die).
He volunteers time as a Board member of GLBT support organizations,
Families United Against
Hate and Youth Guardian Services. He marched with Soulforce
on the historic first march to Jerry Falwell's church. He was a featured
performer at the PFLAG national conference and speaker at the March on
He's been profiled in such media as the New York Times, Los Angeles
Times, People Magazine, POZ, the San Francisco Chronicle, and
MSNBC, but mostly he and Jim live a quiet life in North Hollywood,
Steve will always be in debt to pop star George Michael for allowing him
to play John Lennon's IMAGINE piano in the front yard of Gabi and Alec
Clayton in memory of their son, Bill, who committed suicide after a gay
bashing. (It was during that moment, playing an instrument of peace in a
place of violence, that he conceived New World Waking!
personal video blogs of the event begin
Steve is grateful to Jim Brochu for keeping him alive, to Artistic Director of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, Kathleen
McGuire for her vision, to Executive Director Teddy Witherington of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus for his
creative mind and to the entire SFGMC for their emotional commitment and
artistic excellence in developing this piece.
MORE BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION...
Steve's early musical development was in the church where his mom played
piano for the tiny country congregations. His piano lessons began when
he was 7, but he wasn't a particularly good student. He hated practicing
his lessons. But he did love the church music he had grown up with and
at the age of 10, after his family moved to Anaheim, California, he
began playing for his dad's congregation of 12.
Though he enjoyed playing in church, he thought the piano was basically
for "squares" until the day he looked into Paul McCartney's eyes on the
night The Beatles sang "Hey Jude" on Ed Sullivan, a moment which also
turned him gay. And he realized the piano could be cool, too.
His family's move to a tiny backwoods town in east Texas on the Gulf
Coast led Steve, in his high school years, to hanging out with the local
blues and rock musicians. And though he couldn't join a dance band
(since Baptists don't dance or drink), he found himself, instead,
rocking out the little congregation each Sunday until his mother finally
scolded him, "The church is not a rock group."
At Jacksonville Baptist College in east Texas, Steve, on a full tuition
scholarship, began learning music theory and was chosen for vocal leads
in the liberal arts school's Gospel quartet, choir and mixed ensemble.
Under the training of Professor Gerald Orr, he also began arranging for
all the groups and taking his first baby steps toward composition. He
also joined an off-campus "Baptist rock band."
After earning his AA degree in Music Education, he left college to tour
full time, by now writing most of the material for the band.
Unfortunately for them, he also, now in his 20s, had begun to stop
fighting his same sex attraction.
It was the late 70s. One night, at the 7/11, he met an out gay boy his
own age, fell tails over head in puppy love and told the band he was now
an atheist, a piece of news he thought they could handle more easily
than the truth. (He was right.)
Cliff wasn't interested in falling in love (with Steve), so Steve moved
to Denton, Texas just north of Dallas with group of Iranian engineering
students who he had met working in the kitchen of a Mexican Restaurant
after dropping out of the band.
Working as a night shift waiter at an IHOP, Steve met a transgender
dishwasher who told him where he could find gay people in Dallas. This
led him to being cast as a singing/dancing waiter at a "high class"
dinner theater called the Gran' Crystal Palace even though he knew
nothing of musical theater, had never so much as seen a musical, and had
no knowledge of jazz or New York or Gershwin or Sinatra or Sondheim.
To his surprise, he found that his storytelling songs were a perfect fit
for theatre, and he began writing love duets and anthems for the stage
shows. Unfortunately, the Gran' Crystal Palace was on its last legs, so
he accepted a job as musical director for a Vegas-bound Donny and
Marie-style act, while writing songs and making demos with the other
band members on the side.
Eventually, though, he landed back in New York, singing and playing down
on Christopher Street where he played hustler bars and cabaret clubs,
teaching himself the American Songbook along the way. He took particular
pride in his interpretations of Stephen Sondheim and Jerry Herman.
A year-long gig on a cruise line out of New York led him to meet his now
life partner, Jim Brochu, who had just lost his father to cancer. They
collaborated on a few songs for a children's show, A Wonderful
Worldful of Christmas, which got published by Samuel French.
A job offer for Jim from Hollywood brought the couple out where Steve
immediately jumped into the Los Angeles music scene by volunteering, and
then quickly becoming managing director of the National Academy of
Songwriters, a job that got him back into his first love, the art and
craft of songwriting.
During this time, he created and led workshops and seminars, and
co-produced fundraisers with some of the top songwriters in the world,
including Stevie Wonder, Bacharach and David, etc.
For Steve it was like being back in college. Except now he was studying
at the feet of the masters doing the craft he loved the most. Whomever
he wanted to meet, he would just call them and ask them to do a seminar.
NAS quickly grew and pulled itself out of debt, added hundreds of hit
songwriters to its membership and was becoming a real community of
songwriters, but then Steve was diagnosed with HIV. His progression to
full blown AIDS took about a year.
In 1994, Steve Schalchlin was told he had a year left to live. Looking
skeletal, he was living mostly flat on his back. But his beloved Aunt
Frieda, who lives with emphysema, wanted to know more about how he was
feeling. So, he painfully made his way to the little upright piano his
partner, Jim, had grown up with, and wrote a song called "Connected."
He discovered that the more he played and sang, the stronger he got. So,
Jim set him to writing more and more songs as a form of musical therapy.
Brochu then took those songs and created a musical called The Last
Session about a songwriter with AIDS. But Steve's health was
beginning to fail again.
From his sickbed, he put his geek knowledge to use and became one of the
first persons to create an online diary. Intended as a way to keep his
doctor and family apprised of his health on a daily basis, this
"goodbye" letter to the world began to attract a great deal of attention
across the globe, especially when Steve made it into the Crixivan
lottery and his readers saw him literally come back to life.
Fourteen months later, he saw The Last Session became a
cult off-Broadway smash -- which meant that he had also unintentionally
created the first website for an off-Broadway show.
The Last Session also brought in a slew of "Best Musical"
nominations in New York.
Living in the Bonus Round, the website, quickly achieved worldwide
recognition leading to an article in the NY Times Business Section and
an invitation by the Harvard School of Public Health for Steve to
discuss his experiences of health education online, a new idea at the
He sang a concert sponsored by the Harvard Gay and Lesbian Student
Association which led to more concerts around the country.
In 2006, Steve and Jim wrote (and starred in) a second critically
acclaimed off-Broadway production, The Big Voice: God or Merman?
about their real life gay marriage. In Los Angeles, the production
garnered the coveted L.A. Ovation Award for Best Musical.
In 2007, Steve and Jim brought The Big Voice to the New
Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco where they played a sold out,
critically acclaimed run. During this run, Steve auditioned New World
Waking! for Dr. Kathleen McGuire of the San Francisco Gay Men's
Steve serves as a volunteer Board member of Youth Guardian Services and
Families United Against Hate and is a member of the pop artrock group collective based out of Oakland, CA called "Preoccupied Pipers."