Get to understand the talented Rhonda Merrick
Rhonda Merrick is an accomplished singer, songwriter, and storyteller. One of New Orleans's greatest soul musicians was her uncle Charles Merrick. There is no doubt that Rhonda Merrick has followed in his footsteps. She has a unique voice that will touch many hearts. There is a lot of quality in the production and delivery of her songs. Take a listen to her music catalog and let us know what you think.
A singer, songwriter, and storyteller from Louisiana whose voice has been lost for too long. Discover Rhonda Merrick on Spotify.
Born in Louisiana to a musical family in 1966, Rhonda grew up listening to some of the greatest Jazz and Blues musicians jamming on the front porch of her family home. Her Uncle, Charles Merrick, was known as the President of Soul in New Orleans.
Aged just 5, she first discovered her voice, while singing with a band at a wedding reception. After that, she recalls frequently singing acapella in people’s living rooms, and it’s easy to see why.
Growing up in the golden age of Motown, Rhonda found musical inspiration in Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, and the gospel of Mahalia Jackson. Read More at: https://www.rhondamerrick.com/about
Questions and Answers with the Artist:
- How did you start in the music business? I started in the music business when a wedding band sent an announcement to all guests that they would accompany us on any song if we sent the name of the song we wanted to sing at the reception in advance. I was 5 years old and my parents had a record player and a recording of 'Ode to Billy Joe'. I wore that record out learning all the lyrics and I brought the house down when I sang the song with that wedding band. Decades later, I would tour across parts of Europe with my own band but that's another story.
- How would you describe the music that you typically create? I write story songs/poems and set them to music. Sometimes, a melody or a riff will come to me and a basic truth about something I've lived through, seen, heard about or felt. The songs I write can usually fit many genres and tend to reflect the musical interests/talent of the instrumentalists I happened to be working with when the song(s) were recorded.
- What is the current project about? My current project is a single called Plaquemines. It's the parish I was raised in from birth through elementary school. We lived in the lower part of Plaquemines, out in the countryside in Boothville-Venice. It's surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico on 3 sides and there's only one road in and out of town. Pretty much every year we had to evacuate because of a hurricane or tropical storm coming. It wasn't unusual for us to be the very last people to leave, with storm winds raging behind us as my daddy floored his raggedy old car out of town. Life was chaotic, violent with an alcoholic, chain-smoking father and a mom who was an on and off Jehovah's Witness. I left Louisiana when I was 17 years old... the very day I was old enough to graduate from basic training in the USMC on my 18th birthday. You had to be 18 to graduate. Except for a brief visit after basic training and a funeral in the 1990's, I never went back until last year when my old school district agreed to beta test Global Music Library. I became the most unlikely tech company founder when COVID restrictions shut down an arts centre and the satellite rehearsal studios we were running in England. I started recording rehearsal videos for my students and uploaded them into an app I'd found online along with tests, quizzes and review materials. I realised this was the future for students to learn to play an instrument at their own pace with a music teacher guiding them. In Louisiana, there are hurricanes and other disasters all the time, this causes disruptions in band practice. They wanted a solution and helped me develop it. That's why I came back and discovered the most wonderful people. All the vaguely awful memories had long since faded and most of the adults from my childhood were long since gone. I could see the beauty of the state, the connectedness of its many many traditions, the friendliness of the people, the great food and I just sat down one day and tried to sum up what it was like through a childs eyes, all those years ago and I could see the funny side of all that chaos.
- How do you feel it will inspire others? I survived my childhood because of the musical training, rehearsals and performances I was able to participate in because it was all free in public schools. I'm a teacher, a musician and writer today because of a music scholarship I won at San Diego State University and the core of my musical abilities came from Hahnville High School. I hope the back story of Plaquemines, the story of a little girl who used to daydream about all sorts of things in the midst of danger and chaos. It's all true. She went on to study music, moved to Europe and lived there 15 years before coming back Louisiana to try and keep music in schools for children who live with the same or different sort of chaos at home... children who have a natural talent for music but no chance to learn. I hope people hear things left unsaid in that song, but you can feel it.
- What is your creative process like? Words, melodies, riffs etc... just float through my mind and I usually stop what I'm doing to record them in one of my phones because I know I will probably forget the rhythm and rhyme if I don't record immediately. The song evolves over time and I usually have 4 to 10 snippets before putting them all together, then I refine the song from there and add instrumentation. Sometimes songs come to me as a guitar or piano melody and it's the reverse. I play the melody and add words that feel right.
- Who would you most like to collaborate with? An old school rap artist. I think a lot of my songs lend to spoken word bits and pieces. I also love variations of rhythm.
- If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be? Darius Rucker. I loved Hootie and The Blowfish and I admire the way he went and did his own thing in Country music. I think my songs can fit any genre, but country music fans love a good story in a song. I have loads of them. I'm from the other side of country and it could be pretty cool to share what I learned growing up way out in the bayou.
- What is one message you would give to your fans? For those fans who have been listening to my music for years, thank you for hanging in there with me! For new fans, thank you for taking the time to listen to an unknown artist. I hope y'all like what you hear.
- What is the most useless talent you have? I speak fluent Spanglish. It's not quite Spanish or English, it's definitely a peculiar blending of the languages that seems to work.
- Do you sing in the shower? What songs?What would you be doing right now, if it wasn’t for your music career? I pay close attention to what my feet are doing when I'm in the shower. I'm at the age and stage in life where I do not want to fall. I like listening to music on my phone when I'm in the shower, but I rarely sing there. I sing in the car and lots of times in the kitchen or when I'm cleaning or taking a long walk. That's when songs usually come to me. Right now, I'm into 'The Heart' by the Wood Brothers, I love that line 'The heart is humble, the heart is strong, the heart is the hero of every song..." I also like listening to Florence and The Machine, Chicago and too many to list here.
- Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues? I've played a lot of festivals in England. Sang in more than a few bars in Ireland. I haven't done many live performances since coming back to America. It's a big transition after being out of the country for so many years. All my contacts and networks are in Europe. I'm slowly finding the right path to performing again.
- Do you have any upcoming shows? Not yet.
- How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business? It's given independent artists like me the chance to meet new fans all over the world.
- What is your favorite song to perform? In the right setting, I'd say '27 Club'. It's a song I wrote the night Amy Winehouse died and it features some of the most infamous musicians who all passed away at the age of 27.
- What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into? I stole a candy bar once when I was about 6 years old. I walked out of the store backwards with a Charleston Chew, the long one, behind my skinny little back. The owner stopped me outside, chomping on a cigarette advising me to find a new career because I'm a terrible thief. I got a whipping when I got home and never tried that again.
- What is the best advice you’ve been given? Start less, finish more.
- What’s next? Launching the library this August and spreading the message that any school district can offer musical training in the information age.
- What should the world know? Music is not just entertainment, it can be the one reason some children bother going to school, it's what emotions sound like and everyone should have the chance to learn to sing and/or play an instrument if they're interested in that. Music changed my life and helped me put things into perspective. I hope it uplifts, encourages and infuses people with courage to follow their dreams and goals too.
Rhonda Merrick Rhonda Merrick
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