June 12, 2008
By David Huff
Rissi Palmer - Country Fever 2008 - Jun. 12-15
Top Independent Country Artist
Even if Rissi Palmer wasn’t that rarest of commodities – a black woman singing country music – the odds would still be against her. After all, country radio playlists are tougher to break into than Fort Knox, and deviating from the slightly twangy soft-rock norm is no recipe for success. So while Palmer’s talents as a vocalist are abundantly clear, her path to stardom is not.
Palmer says she’s not looking for favors, just a fair shot. She recalls how Nashville music executives would gush over her demos, then apparently do an about face when they discovered she was black. Palmer doesn’t blame racism, just the realities of the market.
The 26-year-old singer from Sewickley, Pa., is the first African-American woman to chart a country song since Dona Mason accomplished the feat in 1987 with “Green Eyes (Cryin’ Those Blue Tears).”
Since releasing her single, “Country Girl” last June, Palmer has been on a whirlwind ride to stardom. Starbucks Entertainment distributed a four-song “Country Girl” EP that put Palmer among the top 5 best-selling country artists on iTunes, alongside Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood. She was also featured in a 2005 County Music Television documentary about African-Americans and country music.
Palmer’s self-titled debut was release in October 2007. With nine of twelve songs penned by Palmer, the album is a testament not only to her vocal ability, but to her gift for songwriting as well. Some of Nashville’s finest songwriters are featured on the album including Sarah Majors, Dan Shea, Shannon Sanders, Shaye Smith, Ed Hill and more. The album also features an impressive group of producers including, Keith Thomas (Amy Grant, Faith Hill, Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood), Dan Shea (Martina McBride, Mariah Carey), Shannon Sanders (Randy Travis, Lyle Lovett, India Arie), Drew Ramsey (India Arie, Kimberly Locke) and Cory Rooney (Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Lopez).
At the age of 19, Palmer declined a pop record deal from famed producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey) to pursue the music that was in her heart – country. Palmer claims it was one of the hardest decisions she’s ever had to make, but knew she had to be true to herself and who she is as an artist.
“My mother passed away when I was 8 years old,” explained Rissi, “but still at that young age she had already instilled in me her love of country music. Some of my fondest memories of her are when we would clean the house on Saturday mornings and she would play all these great records, especially Patsy Cline who was one of her favorites. It’s her love for country music that has always stayed with me. This record represents my journey and I dedicate it to her memory.”
Palmer consistently ranks as one of MySpace.com’s Top Independent country artists and has received over 760,000 plays of her music to date.
Rissi Palmer- singer, songwriter, acoustic guitar
Douglas Collins- acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Ty Smith- drums
Victor Broden- bass
Kurt Goebel- keys