Recording Artist and Human Rights Activist

Stephan Said, aka Stephan Smith, is an internationally acclaimed musician, writer and activist who has been called “this generation’s Woody Guthrie” (Billboard Magazine) and favorably compared to Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Bob Marley in publications such as the New York Times, Billboard Magazine, BBC, NPR and RFI.  An Iraqi-American with immediate family in Baghdad and Mosul and a diverse heritage that combines Christianity and Islam, he is a prominent voice for interfaith dialogue, peace, and global justice. His song “The Bell” was “the first major song against the war in Iraq”(Neil Strauss, NY Times) and hailed as “the antiwar anthem of this generation.”(GNN) Stephan pioneered the use of the internet to distribute mp3’s and music videos for social causes on a mass scale, and his essays on music and global affairs have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Progressive Magazine, CounterPunch, Sing Out! Magazine, Folker Magazine (Germany), The Huffington Post, AlterNet, Counterpunch, and others. Since his last album on Artemis Records, Stephan completed his graduate studies in International Affairs from the New School University.

Stephan’s new album, difrent:, with Grammy Award winning Producer Hal Willner (Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Bono, Saturday Nite Live), features his most universal songwriting to date, with cinematic love songs and pop anthems to global tolerance and peace in English, Arabic, French and Spanish blending pop with rock, folk, and world music. difrent: is Stephan’s first album reclaiming his born name, Said, having put out several critically acclaimed albums under his mother’s maiden name “Stephan Smith,” after executives at major labels in the U.S. insisted he “could never have a career in the America with an Arabic name.” The album debuts an all-star band featuring Cindy Blackman on drums, Kevin Hunter on mandolin and guitar, Yousif Sheronick on percussion, and George Mitchell on upright and electric bass. Strings and horns include recording legends Lenny Pickett, Howard Johnson, Earl Gardner, Art Baron, and Jane Scarpantoni. The album is being released to launch Stephan’s biggest project to date, difrent: a global broadcasting platform and one-stop for the music of social change. difrent: connects artists and organizations for initiatives having a positive impact on the ground worldwide, and promotes young voices that are making music and culture to advance peace, equality, and environmental sustainability.

Stephan is known for  consistently using his art at the frontlines of social change. He has produced several albums for his own independent label Universal Hobo Records as well as for Artemis Records, Rounder Records, and Caroline Records, and his songs have been sung by artists including Dave Matthews, Patti Smith, DJ Spooky, Pete Seeger, and others. Stephan has also performed, toured, or recorded with a wide range of artists including Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Ween, Paul Simon, Ani DiFranco, Phillip Glass, Butch Morris, and others, and.

Stephan was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the youngest of 4 siblings. His father, Mohamed Said, is from Nineveh, Iraq, and his mother, Monika Smith, is from Vienna, Austria. He is multi-lingual and sings in English, Arabic, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian and Spanish. He holds a Masters in International Affairs from The New School, and has studied and written on global development, poverty reduction, weapons law and human rights. Stephan began playing piano at 3, composing and studying classical violin at 4, and guitar at 11 years old. In his travels he has learned numerous folk traditions first-hand, and is an accomplished fiddler in Old-Time and Bluegrass, Rai, Gypsy, Irish, Arabic, Scottish, Ranchero, Klezmer, and other music. He lives in New York City.



  • difrent:, Produced by Hal Willner, 2010
  • Slash and Burn, Artemis Records/Universal Hobo Records, 2004
  • New World Worder, Caroline Records/Universal Hobo Records, 2003
  • The Bell. Caroline Records/Universal Hobo Records, 2003
  • Proclaiming Jubilee, Universal Hobo Records, Produced by John Alagia, 2001
  • A16, Universal Hobo Records, Produced by Stephan Said and John Alagia, 2000
  • Now’s The Time, Rounder Records, Produced by Steve Rosenthal, 1999
  • Blank ep, Universal Hobo Records, Produced by Stephan Said, 1998
  • The Ballad of Abner Louima, Universal Hobo Records, 1997 (with Patti Smith and Oliver Ray)
  • I’m ‘Bout t’Explode, self-produced, 1995
  • Which Side Are You On. self-produced, 1994


  • Ambassador, Freemuse, since 2008
  • Puffin Foundation Grant 2005
  • Tomorrow Foundation Grant 2004 & 03
  • Tides Foundation Grant 2004
  • Vera List Scholar, for Political Advocacy, The New School, 2003
  • Student Representative to Board of Trustees, The New School, 2003
  • Kersner Scholar, for Artistic Achievement, The New School, 2002