Steve Williams grew up in Washington, DC. He continued his music education at the University of Miami. There he joined Monty Alexander's band, with whom he started to perform on the international scene. He furthered his music education in New York, with Billy Hart.
Back in Washington, Williams played with Milt Jackson, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Williams, Woodie Shaw, Gary Bartz, Eddie Henderson, John Hicks, Larry Willis, Mulgrew Miller and many others. He joined Gary Thomas' band, with whom he recorded one of his first compositions, "Pads".
Then he joined Shirley Horn, who would keep for twenty-five years the same rhythm section: Charles Ables (bass) and Steve Williams (drums)