Rissi Palmer's gift lies in reaching across boundaries. One of our most compelling singers, she is at home in R&B but made her mark in country, bringing the entire spectrum of popular music to bear on music she calls “Southern Soul.”
Her new album, Revival, is her most powerful work to date. The product of a mature artistic vision, laser-focused social consciousness, and a voice with the power and grace only experience can bring, it is also her most important work. Revival finds Rissi dealing with some of the most pressing issues of the times, as well as with the personal realms of love, loss, and identity.
“It’s one of the most personal things I’ve written and recorded,” she says. “Everything I write is personal, but I feel like I’m in a place of being really honest and transparent with people, because that’s what I like in an artist. That’s what I look for; those are the people I’m interested in, and I want to do that same thing for others.”
The first single from the project, “Seeds,” along with its riveting video, finds Rissi taking an unflinching look at tensions as old as humanity and as fresh as today’s headlines, with a message that joins biblical themes and modern equality movements. “Seeds” celebrates human freedom and dignity in the face of oppression, counseling understanding and communication in a spirit of hope and unity.
“‘Seeds’ is a crowd favorite and has been since I wrote it,” she says, “and so it was the first thing I recorded and put out from this record. It’s the first thing you hear on the album and it sets the tone for everything else you’re about to hear.”
Two of the other key tracks are “Soul Message,” written just after she married her husband Bryan, and the powerful “You Were Here,” written after her miscarriage.
“‘Soul Message’ is the only love song on this album, and having been married now for nine years I feel like this is pretty expressive of what marriage is. There are times when all you can do is dig deeper and reach out to each other from a visceral soul place because regular communication is not getting it. It’s one of my favorite songs on the record, and I love the production that Brian Owens, my producer, came up with. It just totally fits, with this kind of old Muscle Shoals-ish vibe. ‘You Were Here’ is probably one of the hardest songs I’ve ever written. Thank God for my cowriters Deanna Walker and Rick Beresford—I think I sobbed the entire time we wrote it. I was struck by how many of my friends have experienced this and don’t talk about it. It’s a profoundly lonely experience even if you have a partner, and I just didn’t want people to feel alone anymore.”
The rest of the project reflects Rissi’s engagement with a world clearly in need of uplift, with songs of exhortation like “Breathe In” and “Revival,” and of compassion and hope, as in “Little Black Boy, Little Black Girl.”
The daughter of Georgia natives, Rissi was born near Pittsburgh and spent her adolescent years in Missouri. Raised in a musical family that loved both country and R&B, she sang in a singing and dancing troupe sponsored by a local television station at 16. She was offered her first publishing and label deals at 19, and in 2007 released the album Rissi Palmer, charting with the singles, “Country Girl,” “Hold On To Me,” and “No Air.” She followed with a Christmas single, an independently released children’s album, Best Day Ever, and an EP called The Back Porch Sessions.
Rissi has performed at The White House, Lincoln Center, and the Grand Ole Opry, has appeared on Oprah & Friends, CNN, the CBS Early Show, and the Tavis Smiley Show. She has shared stages with Taylor Swift, The Eagles, Chris Young, and Charley Crockett, and she has been featured in Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal, People, Parade, Ebony, Newsweek, and The Huffington Post