Singer-songwriter J.R. Rhodes believes that music heals and that love is real. From her first open-mic performances at the O.K. Hotel, Seattle, to her latest album I Am, these beliefs in the transformative power of song are distilled into gems of quiet intensity that traverse blues, jazz, folk and rock.
Her full-length albums include I Am, produced by Johnny Sangster, Elixir (2011), Afriqueen Stare (2003), and Songs of Angels (1999). Additional works that demonstrate Rhodes’ range and virtuosity are Lullabies (2013), a riveting performance of traditional spirituals, On the Boards, Seattle; as well as 2 Old Chicks (2005), a 50-piece orchestral film score, created in collaboration with Doris Bartha and Steve Brush.
Rhodes began writing at a young age, composing poems that “always had a melody, too.” Skipping class to stay home and learn new instruments, Rhodes found in music a way to go inside herself, and to inspire others to go inside themselves, to learn, to heal, to find love or to leave it behind. One source of continued inspiration for the artist is an autograph, from the poet Maya Angelou, that hangs prominently in her studio, a memento of their meeting at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute.
Rhodes earned her B.A. in music composition from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT. Jazz luminaries Bill Lowe and Anthony Braxton were favorite teachers who encouraged her to explore and push beyond any self-imposed boundaries. These lessons have allowed her to continually grow and evolve her music. She has collaborated with musicians including Matt Chamberlain (David Bowie), Brad Houser (Edie Brickell & New Bohemians), Mike Dillon (Ani DiFranco), Eyvind Kang (Bill Frisell), Jeff Fielder (Mark Lanegan), Dan Walker (LeRoy Bell), Jessica Lurie, Keith Lowe (Fiona Apple), Amy Denio, Jessika Kenney, Mike Stone (Wayne Horvitz) and Skerik.
Rhodes muses, “It’s easy to be cynical. It takes a lot to be intentional. It takes a lot to love.” I Am takes the listener into love and then heartache, through rebirth, and finally, up into freedom.
Join South Hudson Music Project on Sunday, January 24th at 5:30pm for Solos for a Brand New Day, a special combination livestream and pre-recorded fundraiser!
Friends of KEXP, South Hudson Music Project and the Royal Room come together January 24th for a special evening in support of our mission as we ensure a future to provide a home for artistic, educational, and community programs in Seattle.
Each artist will perform solo, as befits the times, for five minutes. With incredible artists such as Sera Cahoone, Sweeter Than The Day, Victoria Parker, Skerik, JR Rhodes, and more, you’ll want to tune in to the whole show!