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'Everything on the line': Columbia man chases a big life in making music

Edited by Hunter Pendleton and Cleo Norman
For the Columbia Missourian

The cutout on the side of Ponderosa Street is empty at 3 a.m. Stephen Edwards pulls into it in the 2006 Ford Focus he got as a high school graduation gift seven years ago.

From outside the vehicle, the sound of muted thumping breaks the night silence. Edwards is producing music on his laptop. He uses his car sound system rather than his home speakers so he does not wake his mother, Miranda Wiser-Jones, who sleeps on the top floor of the gray duplex down the block.

“He has put everything on the line for this,” Wiser-Jones says, referring to her son’s aspirations of a successful music career. “He deserves to make it big.”

Edwards, 25, began making music in high school. Today, he records and produces a contemporary blend of hip-hop, rock, electronic and alternative that calls back to the grunge aesthetic of the 1990s. Although Edwards does not make enough money with music production to earn a living wage, there is no plan B. His hope to become a famous music artist lives on.

“How close do I think I am to blowing up on the internet?” Edwards holds his index finger and thumb mere millimeters apart. “Probably this close.”

The death of Edwards’ grandmother two years ago served as a wake-up call for Wiser-Jones, who says she openly expresses worry about her son's future at least once a month.


“I told him, you know, ‘What if I’m not here to support you? Are you going to be able to stand on your own two feet?’ He’s like, ‘Mom, it's going to be OK,’ and I just pray that it does. Lord, help him make it.”

When Edwards thinks about how his family views him, his face breaks out in a half-grimace, half-smile.

“Do they support my dreams?” He pauses. “Maybe just out of obligation.”

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