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Connecticut music disruptors: From a jazz violinist to a DJ challenging stereotypes

Kersten Stevens stands on a stage playing the violin while wearing a silver dress. In the background, Christian McBride is playing a white electric bass while wearing a gray suit and a hat.
Violinist Kersten Stevens performs live with Christian McBride at City Winery in New York City, November, 2023. Stevens grew up in Stratford, CT.

This hour, we explore Connecticut music. Violinist Kersten Stevens just released a jazz album that she worked on with eight-time Grammy winner Christian McBride. She talks to us about facing imposter syndrome and how her unique sound came out of her experience playing a wide range of genres while growing up in Connecticut. Qiana Coachman-Strickland, also known as "DJ Q-Boogie," discusses her work supporting women DJs as the Owner and Founder of the Female DJ Association. And filmmakers Andy Billman and Joe Franco tell us about their upcoming documentary on music venue Toad's Place in New Haven.


  • Kersten Stevens: violinist with the nickname “Queen of the Violin.” She’s won Amateur Night and Showtime at the Apollo a total of six times. She plays in a range of styles, but her latest album, Queen Rising, is jazz.
  • Qiana Coachman-Strickland a.k.a DJ Q-Boogie: professional DJ, Female DJ Coach and Owner and Founder of Female DJ Association. Qiana is based in Connecticut.
  • Andy Billman: director of the upcoming documentary on New Haven music venue Toad’s Place. He has worked on a number of projects for ESPN, including the award-winning series 30 for 30.
  • Joe Franco: one of the producers of the upcoming documentary on New Haven music venue Toad’s Place. He worked at ESPN from the very first year it launched and spent over 30 years there doing everything from covering sporting events to working in HR.

Special thanks this week to Meg Fitzgerald.

Disrupted is available as a podcast on Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn, Listen Notes, or wherever you get your podcasts. Subscribe and never miss an episode.

Kevin Chang Barnum is a producer for Connecticut Public Radio’s weekly show Disrupted. Kevin grew up in Connecticut and started his radio work at his graduate university’s radio station, KUCI. He has also worked for HRN, a network of food and beverage podcasts.
Wayne Edwards is a freelance producer at Connecticut Public contributing to multi-platform productions, including ‘Disrupted’, ‘Where Art Thou?’, and ‘Cutline in the Community’.

Dr. Khalilah L. Brown-Dean is an award-winning scholar at Quinnipiac University, author, and host of 'Disrupted' on Connecticut Public.
Meg Dalton is the deputy director of storytelling for Connecticut Public. She previously worked for The Takeaway from WNYC, in collaboration with GBH and PRX, and Mobituaries with Mo Rocca. She's also reported and edited for the Columbia Journalism Review, PBS NewsHour, Slate, MediaShift, Hearst Connecticut newspapers, and more. Her audio work has appeared on ‎WNYC, WSHU, Marketplace, WBAI, and NPR. She earned her master's degree from Columbia Journalism School in 2017, where she specialized in audio storytelling and narrative writing, and has taught audio storytelling at Columbia Journalism School, UnionDocs, and public libraries.
Catie Talarski is Senior Director of Storytelling and Radio Programming at Connecticut Public.
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