Opinion: Rhonda Thomas says to K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Soulstars)

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    I love SoulTracks.com and I am a long time reader, first time contributor.

    This is written because I wish to share an opinion because like soul brother, Eric Roberson, I am a "Music Fan First".  As a music fan, I love to see the live performance and I love the connection that the artists make with the listeners in large venues and in small living rooms! Two recent shows come to mind as I write this. The first involved a vocalist who performed with a quartet in front of an audience of about 100 people recently.  The quartet consisted of solid musicians playing the bass guitar, lead guitar, drums and keys but there were so many auxiliary tracks playing that the musicians sounded like Earth, Wind and Fire playing alongside Parliament and the lone vocalist sounded like Sounds of Blackness.

    I think sometimes we as artists forget why we are doing what we do.  Just because the technology exists for us to sound like Stevie Wonder backed by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boys Choir of Harlem (I know that they are defunct but you get the idea) in Madison Square Garden, that doesn't mean we should!  Singer/Percussionist, Vinx once said that long before there were super-producers and synthesizers, there was just a man beating on a rock telling his story.

    Our objective, our job is to tell our musical story in an honest way that hopefully speaks to others.  Sometimes, the best way to do that is to keep it simple.  Recently, I was able to hear U.K. soul and jazz singer, Cecilia Stalin in a very small room backed by Khari Cabral Simmons on bass, Julius Speed on piano and Charles Garner on drums.  The sound was clean and pure.  The fifty people in the room heard every nuance and every solo was met with applause.  In short, we all connected!  We were not confused as to whether we liked the music because they were good or if we were Milli Vanilli / Ashlee Simpson style tricked by technical enhancements. That's when music is good! 

    I think we as performers should continue to push to give the fan a better experience.  I love when Algebra takes flight in her aerial acrobatics during her show or when Navasha Daya (formerly of Fertile Ground) dances during her songs!  I also love all that new technology can bring to a show but I hope we don't use it at the expense of reaching the listener.  Remember, sometimes less is more and sometimes we need to keep it simple!

    Peaceful Blessings,

    Rhonda Thomas


    Rhonda Thomas is a noted Atlanta-based singer and songwriter. Rhonda was a featured soloist and background vocalist for Isaac Hayes for 11 years before his untimely passing. She has issued critically acclaimed studio albums, including 2010's Listen and the 2012 holiday album, Little Drummer Girl. You can see more of Rhonda at her website.

    Here are some examples from Rhonda of artist who, in her words, "Get It Right"