On a summer evening at an outdoor amphitheater in northern Minnesota, Rochelle Randy was fifteen when she first sang with a talented group of rock musicians. “When I got up on stage and started singing, I felt the thrill of the energy that flowed between us. It was like magic. At that moment I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Rochelle grew up as a stubborn lover of pop and rock ‘n’ roll, but she was about to experience a different kind of music when her brother brought home country records from the radio station where he worked.
At first she resisted the sounds that came through her bedroom door, but over time, she began to hear what he heard. Almost through osmosis, she found herself beginning to appreciate this “new” music and even started imitating some of the artists she heard. And so began the exploration that later became the source from which her writing flowed.
Rochelle’s sound developed organically, shaped in part by all of the artists she heard. She was hooked early on by the heartfelt sounds of Patsy Cline and the subtlety of Emmylou Harris. In college she fell under the spell of jazz artists like Nancy Wilson and Nat King Cole, admiring the way they blended the rhythms of jazz into their smooth, effortless sound. She was drawn to the soulfulness of Carole King and the fire of Bonnie Raitt.
At first all of these sounds came together in her singing/performing, but later she found that she had unconsciously stored them away until they fused together to shape her songwriting: one day, she was fascinated to find that a stream of country melodies began to come to her, and they haven’t stopped since.
The songs Rochelle performs pull the listener close, swelling with moments of intensity and tenderness. She captures the bittersweet stories of country music and invites her audiences to experience all of the vulnerability and longing they contain.
Rochelle hopes her songwriting may evoke emotion in a listener--whether joy, sadness, excitement, or anticipation---by relating a song to some event in their life. “Perhaps it could help them on a path to healing or find resolution, just by hearing a part of their story being told.” Many of Rochelle’s songs explore relationships among family members, sometimes inspired by her own experiences. Some look back at childhood. As she reflects, “We can be so weighed down with adulthood that we lose our sense of wonder. Some of my songs can take a listener back to being a child, giving them the gift of remembering.”
Sometimes these ideas for songs come to Rochelle when she is in an open and relaxed state of mind, going about an everyday activity. “When a melody comes to me, the words aren’t far behind. I feel a sense of urgency to get them both written down before I forget. The song pulls me in--I’m swept up into the melody and become a part of it.”
Rochelle has learned that it’s important to listen to the music inside of her. She came to this realization when she felt the pressure to write in a style that was more mainstream in order to find success. She ultimately decided not to commercialize her creativity or sacrifice her own voice. She recognized that if she could stay true to herself, her music would find its audience. Through her songwriting, Rochelle goes on a journey and takes listeners with her. Music was a place discovered when she was young that balanced out the harder parts of her life by making her feel stronger and more joyful. In turn, she is grateful when her gift brings joy or strength to others.
“When I was growing up, music was a refuge for me where I made my own world. I knew it was a place I could go when there were challenges.”
“Music was and still is like having someone to walk beside me, like a friend. Without my even knowing it, music gave me everything I needed, and still does.”