Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ladies Who Lunch: Rebekah Todd

After kicking off "Ladies Who Lunch," a feature highlighting local female artists, their work, and everyone's favorite part of the day- lunch, it is clear that Rebekah Todd is an NC artist you should be keeping your eyes on.  She is obviously making moves, from creating her new album Roots Bury Deep with a full band, to pushing to be more involved with the festival circuit.  This is the year Todd is laying down some roots of her own. 

While teaming up with a full band was a conscious move, Rebekah Todd becoming "Rebekah Todd & The Odyssey," seems to have been an unexpectedly smooth transition.  After being asked to perform with the band on the 4th of July, Todd soon fell into sync with them.  While the lyrics and melodies recorded for Roots Bury Deep, were already complete when "The Odyssey" joined, they did have time to practice, to get to know each other, and to be on solid, and exciting ground when they hit the studio.  The album was recorded in Greenville, NC, Todd's current home, but was written during a lonelier stretch spent in a basement apartment in Raleigh, NC.  Todd centers in on grief, memories, and the idea of moving past.  The album was written during a "dark, and reflective" time as Todd explains, but was recorded when she, and the band, were in a completely different frame of mind.  The evolution of the songs is striking. “Old Days,” a track on the album that Todd felt was so sad she needed to make it “more upbeat and listenable,” is carried through by the horns, and a lifting tempo.  The heavy lyrics, and tone, set against the full band is indicative of pushing forward, and reaching out, bringing the title of the album to life.

Rebekah Todd at Neomonde's Cafe in Raleigh, NC

A self-proclaimed Soul/Folk artist, the band brings elements of jazz, gospel, and even some funk to the table, positioning heavy lyrics from a “dark time” in Rebekah’s life against a lighter, and more upbeat backdrop.  The stand out about this album is the deep tie to Rebekah’s own life, and the transition into a full band.  The journey from the inspiration of the lyrics, to the final piece is amazing.  Todd herself described it as a “fun process,” which is inspiring - that these dark feelings are doubling as a reason to keep on moving forward.  While not from North Carolina originally, Todd’s own experience in moving to a state where some families have been for hundreds of years, and tradition still has a hold casts an interesting shadow on the title Roots Bury Deep.  Todd noted that the title speaks to “not necessarily physical roots, but how the circumstances, and what you go through, shape you,” and goes on to explain that the album also represents how much she herself has changed over the past three years.  From the death of her father, and the “crazy spawn of events that followed,” to the present, and finally feeling “out of it, and ready to live normally.”   

Roots Bury Deep was brought into being through Kickstarter.  Todd was not only able to reach out to fans, but to go into the studio knowing she had a supportive audience.  Even more telling of Todd’s draw, and talents, was the popularity of the “Paintings” tier of her Kickstarter campaign.  Todd was surprised at the number of fans who requested a painting in return for their donation - the tiers ranked based on donation amount and ranged from a “Happy Birthday” phone call, to an original song.  Todd netted 100+ supporters for the album, and reached her goal 10 days before deadline.  This year Todd hopes to continue building a foundation, and is adopting a “quality over quantity” mindset in terms of performances.  Todd is excited to participate in more festivals now that the The Odyssey will be gracing the stage with her, and feels that the band opens doors both in terms of larger performances, and in the impact it has on the style, and sound of the album.

Rebekah Todd & The Odyssey are adjusting to traveling as a full band, and are directing their energy towards promoting their upcoming performances - like their small tour coming up this later this month from March 26th to March 29th.  Todd will also be touring solo, and “doing some leg work,” as she calls it, throughout the next year.  With such a broad range- from full band, to solo, from a Raleigh basement, to a festival stage, Rebekah Todd brings soul, folk, and a lot of heart to her music, art, and the North Carolina scene.  Rebekah Todd & The Odyssey will be at the Local 506, in Carrboro, this Saturday, March 8th at 8:00pm.

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