Professional musician Steven Herring is the Founder and Executive Director of arts education nonprofit The Living Arts Collaborative and has lived in Hell’s Kitchen for almost 20 years. This is Steven’s West Side Story.

Steven initially came to New York City to attend The Juilliard School. Photo: Naty Caez

So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I am originally from Washington DC. I came to New York City in 1995 to begin a Bachelor of Music from The Juilliard School. I fell in love with the city. After graduation I decided to stay and pursue a career in music. I moved to Hell’s Kitchen in 2004.

What was your first job? What do you do now?
My father owned a convenience store in Washington DC. It was comparable to our bodegas in NYC. My first job was a cashier. Of course, since my dad owned the business, I also occasionally took out the garbage, cut up boxes, stocked the shelves etc. I guess I earned my keep. LOL.  

Currently, I am the Founder and Executive Director of an arts education nonprofit, Living Arts Collaborative, Inc. The Living Arts Collaborative provides K-12 students in public schools with educational, energetic and interactive musical experiences that supplement and complement public school curricula, while helping school districts fulfill state mandated educational requirements. We do this by bringing diverse, world-class musicians and artistic programming to support our partner schools; by creating a fun and engaging environment for students; and by providing a supporting role to schools, opening a world of possibilities for students, teachers and administrators alike. 

What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
It is really hard to choose my favorite New York moment. However, if I must chose one, it would have to be performing at Carnegie Hall in Two Wings: The Music of Black America in Migration. This thrilling New York Moment was created by Jason Moran and Alicia Hall Moran. Jason, Alicia and I have been friends for many years and I have performed with them many times. However, this program was absolutely magical. It also marked my debut in Stern Hall at Carnegie Hall.

Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
I love Hell’s Kitchen because there is such a sense of community. It’s a beautiful little gem in the middle of Manhattan. I love the fact that it’s socially diverse. The low rise residential buildings help enhance the feel of this very special community. And we’re so close to Broadway. Lastly, I love that so many of my neighbors are involved within the community, whether it’s participating in the block associations, gardening in one of our parks, or volunteering to pick up trash. I am really proud to be a part of such a thriving neighborhood. 

Steven says Hell’s Kitchen is a beautiful little gem in the middle of Manhattan. Photo: Naty Caez

What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
I think my superpower is I never forget a face. 

What else should we know about you?
I have loved performing ever since I was a child. I attended The Duke Ellington School of the Arts, a performing arts high school in Washington DC. It was then that I developed a love of classical music, opera in particular. I am so grateful that I am able to have a career in music and to do it in NYC. Over the last several years my professional performances grew to include performing as a teaching artist. This naturally evolved to include arts administration, ultimately leading to the founding of Living Arts Collaborative, Inc (LAC). Our teaching artists help LAC to fulfill its mission. So it excites me that we’re able to bring high quality arts education to our students, while building sustainability for so many NYC artists.

Steven’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places

Amy’s Bread — 672 9th Avenue (bw W46/47th St)
I have a huge sweet tooth and Amy’s Bread is the perfect cure. The pink cake is my absolute favorite. It’s so moist, and they’re generous with the frosting. LOVE. Almost 20 years ago, they used to make cinnamon raisin twists. Wow — talk about a treat! 

44&X — 622 10th Avenue (corner of W44th St)
This has been my go-to restaurant for over 20 years. I’ve never had a bad meal here. Bruce and Scott have mastered the restaurant business and we’re so fortunate to have them in the neighborhood. 

Studio 16 — 410 W47th Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
Nathaniel Feliciano’s Studio 16 offers the best personal training I’ve ever experienced. As a man of a certain age, my training needs have changed. Studio 16 understands those needs and continues to develop training routines that meet my needs. They also offer meal prep, virtual training, in house supplements and towel service. 

Gilda — 401 W47th Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
This is a great new Mediterranean restaurant on W47th Street. The food is excellent, especially the short ribs and the hummus. Yummy! They also have a really good brunch. 

Trimmed Barbershop — 748 9th Avenue (bw W50/51st St)
Johnny is the owner. He has been my barber for many years. I think everyone should have an experience when they get a haircut. Trimmed is a whole vibe. The music is great. The decor is elevated. And Johnny and his crew are the nicest guys.

Steven with Johnny, the owner of Trimmed. Photo: Naty Caez

Galaxy Diner — 655 9th Avenue (corner of W46th St)
A reliable staple for classic NYC diner fare.

The Marshal — 628 10th Avenue (bw W44/45th St)
This is a really good farm-to-table restaurant. At the beginning of the pandemic, my partner and I began ordering pizza from The Marshal. It was AMAZING! So we kept ordering and now we have a tradition. Every Saturday night is pizza night — from The Marshal. Charlie (the owner) is a great guy. They also have an excellent selection of wines.

Delphinium Home — 353 W47th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
Another gem on W47th Street. Whenever I want a unique greeting card, a cute gift, or even a shower curtain, I run to Delphinium Home. Michael and John are the owners and they’re always there to help. 

Ninth Ave Vintner — 669 9th Avenue (bw W46/47th St)
Very knowledgeable about wines. Great selection. And they deliver, which is so helpful when we run out of Grey Goose! Lol 

Domus — 413 W44th Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
This very special store is a gift to our neighborhood. Nicki and Luisa are so kind and knowledgeable. My partner and I have bought everything from wine carafes, to baby gifts, to Christmas tree ornaments from Domus. 

You can follow Steven on Instagram @baritonesteve. If you know someone who would make a great West Side Story (or you would like to nominate yourself), please fill in this form —

You can check out more West Side Stories and reader recommendations on W42ST’s Hell’s Kitchen Local App.

Join the Conversation


  1. Steve’s story made me want to jump on an airplane and head north to NYC. Your words brought life to an area of NY I don’t know. I could smell the bakery and taste the wine. NY pizza…my taste buds are salivating, however, I want a beer with my slice. Thank you again, Steven Herring.

  2. Thanks for the shout out Steven. I’m glad you’re getting your due, you’re a great guy and a pillar of the community. Keep up the good work and you also, everyone at W42St

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