In September of 2008, we ran across some exciting new music from a country artist that was generating lots of buzz. The artist was Rissi Palmer and we instantly fell in love with her voice and her music. It’s safe to say that Rissi was the only country artist to ever be featured on BMWK and it was well deserved. More important than that esteemed accomplishment, was the fact that Rissi was the first African American woman to reach the Billboard Country charts since Dona Mason in 1987.
Fast-forward four plus years and Rissi has evolved. Besides singer, she’s taken on additional titles like wife and mother that not only shape her life but her new music as well. I had the opportunity to talk with Rissi about music, motherhood and marriage as we discussed her exciting new release titled, Best Day Ever.
Lamar (BMWK): Rissi thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I loved your new release Best Day Ever. What I liked was that even though it’s family safe and was made for you to listen to along with your children it’s not overly kiddie if that makes sense (laughs).
Rissi: Thank you. That’s specifically what my co-producers and I set out to do. I got this idea about a year ago. I was a stay-at-home-mom, and writing in my journal and writing song ideas. All of the song ideas were geared towards children and my thoughts on being a mom. So I was folding laundry one day and thought, what if I do a kids record? So I went to my husband and asked, how would you like to be in the music industry (laughs). His background was in technology, but he said let’s do it. I reached out to some friends in Nashville, and we started writing last February.
We didn’t want to make anything that was dumbed-down. Alot of children’s music is dumbed-down, simplified, and it’s annoying. I wanted to make something that you could listen to with your kids, but that won’t make you want to pull your hair out. Something that was real music, that sounded like songs on an adult record but with lyrics that both children and parents could understand.
Lamar (BMWK): Since the release of your last album you went through a lot of life changes, right?
Rissi: It seems like another life actually. I was out performing and touring, and in 2008 my record company and I were at a crossroads. That was when we released No-Air, and there was a lot of internal struggle, and frustration behind the scenes. In 2009, I left my record company, and it was a very long and painful battle. In 2010, I was released from my contract and any further obligations to the record company.
Around the beginning of that year was when my husband and I got together. We had known each other for 10 years, but I was never interested in him (laughs). I always thought he was too nice for me because you want the crazy one that never calls you. Then one day he asked me out for dinner while he was in town for business. I was thinking it would just be a friendly thing because we hadn’t seen each other for years and as soon as we sat down for dinner I knew he would be my husband. That completely freaked me out and made me want to leave. After dinner, he said he knew the same thing. After two weeks, we knew we wanted to be married.
We got married in July of 2010 and I found out I was pregnant in October of 2010. So that’s what I’ve been working on!
Lamar (BMWK): During that entire process with the label, did that make you lose your passion for making music?
Rissi: It never changed what I love about music and what compels me to do it, which is writing and creating and using it as an outlet. But the business of music, I have no passion or enthusiasm for. When I found out I was pregnant, I was kind of relieved because I didn’t have to start working on a record. Because my plan when I got released from the contract was to start working on a new record. But then my husband came, and we got married, then I moved from Nashville and all of these life changes came. Then with being pregnant and having my daughter, I wanted to be at home.
Lamar (BMWK): Is making this new music exciting for you?
Rissi: We did a record release party here in Raleigh at my daughter’s pre-school. Kids ranged from 18months to 6 years old. We had a ball. It was great to see moms and dads nodding their heads and singing along right next to their kids. And best of all my daughter was front and center dancing with the band, singing along with me and there’s something about that, that I really enjoyed.
Lamar (BMWK): What is your favorite song on Best Day Ever?
Rissi: I think my favorite song that resonates the most is the very last song, Not Afraid of the Dark. That was the last song that we recorded and wrote. On the surface, it’s I’m not afraid of the dark, but the deeper meaning of the song to me is from when I was going through everything with the record label and it got extremely tough and ugly at a certain point. It was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. My spirituality definitely carried me through in a lot of ways. So when we wrote that song I was thinking about that. Without God there is a lot of darkness. Life can be very scary, but with your spiritual sensor you don’t have to be afraid of the dark so that song means a lot to me.
Rissi: I think she likes Dear to Me. She’s actually singing on Dear to Me and I think she likes it because that’s the one that she’s on. When it comes on she says, Mommy that’s my track!
Lamar (BMWK): Thank you for taking the time to do an interview with BMWK. Do you have any last words to share with our readers?
Rissi: Sure. As I said earlier this totally was not my plan, but I’m glad that my life happened this way. If not I wouldn’t have the amazing partner that I have in my husband and we wouldn’t have my daughter. This album is a celebration of all of the gifts I’ve been given over the past few years and that is exactly what they are, they’re gifts. I don’t want people to see the album and think on the surface that this is a kid album. This is a family album that’s just as much for adults that it is for kids. I want all of the love, excitement and happiness that went into creating it conveyed. And I hope they enjoy it!
You can pick up Rissi Palmer’s new release, Best Day Ever, on her website. Be sure to check out our favorite tracks Dear to Me, Not Afraid of the Dark, and Pretend. Make sure you spread the word about good music, our community needs more of this!