Steven Allen (b. 1953) is a composer, conductor, and ethnomusicologist. He began his undergraduate studies in voice and piano performance at Mary Holmes College, West Point, MS, later finishing them at Jackson State University, under the tutelage of Robert L. Morris. His graduate studies include composition and conducting at Howard University while serving as the assistant choral director. His opera, Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadows: An Opera based on the Lives and Love of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore, was first performed at The Catholic University of America in 2009, with subsequent performances at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2010, and by Opera North in Philadelphia in 2011. He has also developed two vignettes: Violets and Other Tales and The Poet: A Chamber Opera of Life and Times of Paul Laurence Dunbar. The Poet was first premiered in 2014 to honor Paul Laurence Dunbar’s birthday, and celebrated the opening ceremony of the newly renovated Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Washington, DC. The work featured the world-renown mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves. The recently orchestrated version has been performed by The South Shore Opera Company of Chicago in 2017.