Celebrating Veterans: Meet USAF Veteran and ASCAP Award-Winning Film Composer, Steve Pradd

Welcome to a celebration of veterans! In this article, we have the pleasure of introducing you to Steve Pradd, a remarkable individual who has not only served his country with honor but also made significant contributions to the world of film composition.

Steve Pradd is not your ordinary veteran; he is an award-winning film composer. Through his exceptional talent and dedication, Steve has garnered multiple ASCAP Awards and received the prestigious Berklee Achievement Scholarship for Film Music Composition. His education at renowned institutions such as Berklee College of Music, USC’s Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television Program Graduate School, and UCLA’s Film Scoring Program has equipped him with a deep understanding of the art form.

Please enjoy our interview!

When you first started your career what was your vision and purpose?

Steve: It all started for me when I was about 5 years old and growing up in Riverside, California. My dad was an avid jazz fan so we listened to a lot of jazz records together. I was introduced to Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Paul Desmond very early on. I found out later that this was some of the most evolved music that anyone had ever conceived. This is still currently the case. My dad had several jazz records and most importantly (I didn’t know this at the time), a Downbeat Magazine subscription. Downbeat was a publication that featured the most prominent musicians of the time. It also had articles from music instrument manufacturers. I was very taken by this magazine because of the prestigious musicians and institutions that were spotlighted.

One time my dad played a song by Paul Desmond entitled “Take Five”. I love the sound of this instrument and asked my dad what it was. He told me it was an Alto Saxophone. After the song played, I asked him if he would get me one and he asked me, “Are you going to practice?’ I told him yes, I will! The next day he bought it for me. So, I started playing at 8 years old. I practiced, practiced, and practiced some more! I played in elementary school, junior high, and high school. I don’t know if it was a vision or a purpose, but at that time all I wanted to do was impress my family and friends.

What would you say have been some of the most memorable moments in your career so far?

Steve: I was on Christmas break, on the cusp of graduating from Berklee College of Music. I went in for an interview at USC graduate school. I was being considered for acceptance to the Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television Program. I got to the school a little bit early and sat outside this office. I knocked on the office door exactly at the time of my scheduled appointment and no one answered so I knocked again. I thought maybe the professor was running late. So, I waited a little while longer and knocked again. Still no answer. At this point, it was 20 minutes after my appointment time and I was getting a little concerned. I sat down out the office again for 5 minutes. And when I knocked on the door, the late Buddy Norman Baker answered the door. He said “Steve come on in”. I looked around his office and to my surprise, I saw every score I had ever written all over his desk, walls, on music stands, just everywhere! So, while I was knocking on his door, and sitting with anticipation Buddy Baker (Walt Disney’s Film composer) was analyzing my scores simultaneously from every angle of his office. We talked for about an hour total but, early on he reached in his desk, pulled out a document, and signed it. He then said “you’re not going to have any problem in this program, Welcome. We don’t see many like you come through this program.” I have to say that a man that gifted as a Film Composer made me feel that I belonged. Especially, since only 17 composers were accepted that year out of several hundred applicants. There were even fewer that were African American. I felt proud and validated at the same time. It was truly an honor.

What have been some of your favorite career memories of 2023 and what can we be on the lookout for in 2024?

Steve: Composing for film in the 48 Hour Film Projects for Seattle, Salt Lake City, and Los Angeles.

Having an article published about me by the prestigious Heart of Hollywood Magazine.

Getting involved with the Power of Women Summit.

Having my music featured at the Power of Women Summit during the Cannes Film Festival and being interviewed by the multitalented Tammy Reese.

How do you stay motivated to continue this career path?

Steve: I love storytelling on every level!

What is a quote that you live by?

Steve: “Success and nothing less”

Thank you for your service! Happy Veterans Day! Please tell us about this impactful experience during your time serving our country?

Steve: During my career in the USAF, I had the honor of participating in many campaigns/operations. Among the operations are “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, “Operation Noble Eagle”, “Operation Enduring Freedom”, “Operational Plan 8044”, Operation Desert Shield, and Operation Desert Storm. I have been decorated with over 40 medals and awards.

Among the accolades that I was personally most honored to receive, was the Air Force Meritorious Serve Medal (received 3 times) last in April 2001, Air Force Commendation Medal (received 3 times) last in August 2016, Joint Service Achievement Medal (November 1999) and the Air Force Achievement Medal (received 4 times) last in January 2009.

I am also in the Wounded Warrior Program and a Disabled Veteran (WW2P/DV). I am very proud to have served my country honorably and now I feel just as honored for the privilege of starting a new career as a Film Composer.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years and what steps are you taking to get there?

Steve: I hope to be a working composer with a quality body of work and many meaningful relationships with storytellers.

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