Singer-songwriter Rissi Palmer experienced a lifetime of milestones when she released her self-titled debut album in 2007. As one of country music’s most promising new stars, Rissi received widespread attention across all media platforms including print features in Ebony, GIANT, Newsweek, Parade, People, Rolling Stone and The Wall Street Journal, to name a few. She made numerous national television and radio appearances such as the CBS Early Show, NPR’s Tavis Smiley, and Sirius XM’s Dr. Maya Angelou’s Show on “Oprah & Friends.” She was invited to perform at the White House and the Grand Ole Opry upon numerous occasions. And as if all that wasn’t enough, Rissi also made music history as the first African-American female to chart a country song since 1987 with the release of her debut single, “Country Girl.”
In the past eight years since that explosive ride in the music spotlight, Rissi moved from Nashville to North Carolina, where she married the love of her life in 2010, gave birth to her daughter, Grace, in 2011, and recorded a children’s record, Best Day Ever in 2013.
Now, with the release of The Back Porch Sessions set to for digital release in May on her new indie label, Baldilocks Records, Rissi is making music from an all new prospective.
“The person who was once looking for love, now has found it and that has changed so much of who I am now — especially as an artist,” explains Rissi. “It’s now about finding a new side of me artistically rather than trying to figure out what box to fit in.”
The new 5-song EP features all original songs, which Rissi had a hand in writing. It’s also one that has both of her Grammy winning producers/songwriters, Drew Ramsey (India.Arie, Robert Randolph, Jonny Lang) and Shannon Sanders (Randy Travis, Lyle Lovett, India.Arie), singing her praises.
“Rissi’s new project is a transparent and seamless reflection of who she is as a person and an artist, says Ramsey. “Back Porch Sessions starts at the very center of Rissi’s soul and radiates out to the world from there. The songs, the sound, all of it, are just true to who she is and I don’t know of another vocalist that does what she does. It’s that right mix of soul, twang, and church.”
“I’ve known Rissi for a while now,” adds Sanders. “She’s been through a lot in the industry, but her voice, her writing—everything about her is stronger now and that speaks to who she is as a woman, an artist, a human being. Rissi is so proficient and soulfully connected—she’s ‘the perfect storm’.”
Born in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh, where she lived before moving to St. Louis, at the age of 12, Rissi didn’t have the traditional Southern upbringing, but both of her parents were natives of Georgia, and exposed her to a wide array of music that always filled their household. Her mother, who died when Rissi was seven, was a huge Patsy Cline fan, and her father loved musicians such as Johnny Cash, Chaka Khan and Santana.
As a woman who recalls being a young girl performing on her late great-grandmother’s back porch, Rissi says her new music is a way of paying homage to her beginnings and some of her fondest memories as a child.
“I call it Southern Soul,” Rissi says with a smile. “This album is a blend of all my musical influences — from Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton, to Aretha Franklin and Al Green — from the music I heard on the radio as a young girl, to the deep, heart-stirring kind of music we sang in the church choir.”
Whether it’s the soulful lead single, “Sweet, Sweet Lovin’” that features three-year-old daughter, Grace on the intro, or the rootsy, sexy “Well Enough Alone,” that includes several of her grandmother’s favorite sayings, or the pensive “Summerville,“ a love song to her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, and the small town from which they came, Rissi describes the new music as “refreshing, fun and thoughtful.”
“Sometimes life can be really heavy. The world is really heavy, so with Back Porch Sessions, I wanted to give people music that makes them feel good, smile, think and reflect on positive things.”
And so it goes… from her Back Porch to yours.