Erisa Rei
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Erisa Rei

Moweaqua, IL | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | SELF

Moweaqua, IL | SELF
Established on Jan, 2007
Band Blues Americana




"Erisa Rei Blackballed- Not a Chance"

Erisa Rei Blackballed – Not a Chance!

Not her first sojourn with an independent record release, Middle Tennesse native, Erisa Rei is back with “Black Ball” on Creative and Dreams. I can tell you straight off that this disc won’t get her kicked out Nashville any time soon!

Two decades of honing her craft on the musical and acting stages have more than paid off and within weeks of release “Black Ball” was showing up on charts all around. Rei has a reputation in the Nashville circles and it seems this latest effort has far surpassed even the highest of expectations.

Her voice is strong, it’s calming,smooth and smokey, it calls you home – compelling and haunting …. She’s like Bonnie Raitt, Susan Tedeschi, and Adelle; she can move you with her voice. She’s got a way with metaphores stories that draw you in and make you want to hear them again and again.

“Black Ball” kicks off with bluesy “Gypsy in the Desert” and the album’s title track which between them set a mood of introspection and determination which is felt throughout the record. Every song is beautifully crafted with lyrics like the chilling the chilling refrain in Winterlong, “stop stealing my laughter, while I’m catching hold of my dreams.”

From the more upbeat rockin’ bluesy numbers like “News to See” to the moody “Sojourn Band” and “Swing Back Home,” the arrangements and production are great! This record plays like so many favorite vinyls from back when, well, let’s just say a while ago. You know how when Whitney Houston put out an album and you couldn’t figure out which song was actually the best because it was all so good? Yeah, it’s pretty much like that. Don’t tell my Ma I referenced Whitney -k?

Judging from the number of quotes that come up, “Black Ball” has set Nashville on fire in the last few months, and it’s easy to hear why!
- Middle Tennessee Music

"Rei started in Christian music genre but songs popular on roots rock charts"

As Illiopolis native Erisa Rei began her career, singing alongside friends Dyanne Harvey and Erik Ferguson in her church’s gospel choir, she fully expected her impact on the music industry to be made within the “Christian music” genre. That was the idea when she recorded her 2007 debut EP, “Backwards.” But positive response to the record came from a different direction than the young singer-songwriter was expecting.

“I meant it for the Christian market, but it ended up charting on some of the roots rock charts in Illinois,” said Rei, who will perform in Decatur tonight with fellow Illinois natives Harvey and Ferguson at Donnie’s Homespun Pizza. “I started realizing that maybe I had misjudged which fans had the most passionate response to the music. It seems like I have more fans in coffee shops and theater shows than at churches.”

It sounds like a familiar story in the music industry, albeit told in reverse. Some parts do still ring true to archetypes, such as Rei’s eventual move to Nashville. It wasn’t where she originally intended to take her music, however, and she worried at the feasibility of standing out as yet another singer-songwriter in a city full of aspiring musicians.

“I was kind of scared by it, but I was pleasantly surprised by the response in Nashville since I’ve been there,” Rei said. “I got comfortable and started working on my first full album, ‘Black Ball,’ which was released in January.”

Now, Rei is on the road, hooking up with her old friends Harvey and Ferguson as co-performers and backup. Harvey is a Lincoln native just beginning her own solo career, and guitarist Ferguson is a 2006 graduate of Millikin University. Their gig at Donnie’s Homespun will be the first stop on a 16-show “Troubadour Gypsy Tour,” which Rei believes is befitting of her do-it-yourself songwriting.

“The name was inspired by the title of one of my songs,” she said. “We’re just having a good time, meeting new people and taking advantage of the opportunity to play some new stages.”

As she promotes “Black Ball,” Rei often has time to reflect on the transition that her music has made and continues to make, as she evolves further from “roots rocker” to increasingly introspective singer-songwriter. She sees fundamental differences now in the music she is producing today when compared to the songs she was writing as a self-identified Christian musician.

“Christian music often has a feeling like the singer is giving themselves a pat on the back, but I want my songs to relate to pain,” she said. “I want people to think a bit when they’re listening, but it also shouldn’t be indecipherable. I’m very forthright in my songwriting and raw in my emotion because I want audiences to feel what I’m trying to say in every song.”

For an artist such as Rei, generating that kind of empathetic response in each audience is everything. As troubadours, she and her traveling musician friends will perform for anyone who cares to listen each night, hoping to affect just a few and gain a new fan in the process. The prospective award would of course be to make a living from her art.

“I don’t know if I will ever be satisfied,” she said. “Right now, I would just like to make it self-sustainable and start with that goal. I’d like to be signed to a small, indie Americana label, and be able to explore my music, and keep developing.” - Herald & Review by Jim Vorel

"Erisa Rei- Black Ball"

In a truly just world, singer/songwriter Erisa Rei’s current offering will hang around long enough to garner the mass airplay it deserves and would reflect this in some equally deserved chart ascension. Black Ball almost rates such attention on the strength of a single track, the instantly memorable “Like Dominoes”, easily one of the finest ballads to be heard in 2012. Ms. Rei delivers urgently and soulfully there and on other well-crafted fare including “Gypsy In The Desert”, “Pushed” and “Sojourn Band”. A not-to-be-missed set.
- Roots Music Report

"Erisa Rei- Black Ball"

When you look for new artist to listen to and you like music that mixes older rock and roll with a blues rock feel to it and mix in some singer songwriter songs. Then Erisa should fill the bill quite nicely with her impassioned odes to gypsies, home and life. Drenched in the sounds of traditional rock and roll and singer/songwriters, Erisa. has a dynamic vocal style with a nice warm feel to her vocals that are wrapped around solid songwriting. Delivering a excellent performance on tracks like Gypsy in the Desert, Black Ball and News to See. There is a quite mellowness to Erisa, on tracks, Like Dominoes and Pushed with there pop leanings in the piano singer songwriter style. She mixes a bit of Joni Mitchell with Laura Nyro and some Mystery to Me/Heroes Are Hard to Find era Fleetwood Mac. Dynamic and driven by the music’s edginess, the mellow vocals on tracks like Pushed and To Bleed are impassioned and heartfelt and pure pop. The only modern artist I can compare her to is Kelly Willis with the laid back feel they both have but vocally they are not really close as Erisas vocals are more dynamic in range with more of a rock edge to it. As I sit here listening to the tracks for the second time I am struck by passion she delivers on track after track. Heartfelt passion that is real, that reaches out to you with its simplicity. Maybe a bit like Lindi Ortega as well, specially on the track News to See with its upbeat poppy feel. This a very mixed bag CD and depending on your taste you could easily put this CD every day till you have worn it out. There is a quite solidness to the whole CD as Erisa mixes a wide range of styles into this release and she pulls each and everyone off quite nicely.
The biggest surprise on this CD is Cannot Change. in stark contrast to most of the release. Cannot Change is a rockabilly driven track that fits right into the Alt Country scene. Though some of the other tracks have a bit of country feel to them, Cannot Change is just a so different it stands out. - New Classic Music for Tomorrow

"Erisa Rei Review"

ERISA REI/Black Ball: A delightfully smart roots rocker that pulls off the trick of giving you equal parts Janis and Stevie while keeping herself in the mix. She seems arena ready and manages to dance on the edge of the clichés while not falling into the cauldron, keeping it wholly original. Rei is simply a wonderful two fisted rocker chick that knows how to hit hard and keep you coming back for more. First class all the way. - Midwest Record

"Featured Artist of the Week- July 20, 2012"

Erisa Rei never seems to rise too far above a whisper in her vocal delivery on Black Ball. That style works well within the arrangements as they glide across her second album effort.  By her own definition, Erisa has a relationship that goes beyond casual with her music. She feels that her time in the throes of a song is not as much a love affair as a torrid, sultry and passionate romance, in place since she was young.
The instrumentation on Black Ball envelopes listeners with a constant ebb and flow and courses through the album like water. “Like Dominoes” falls like rain as the wind enrages and them calms the playing, “Sojourn Band” stretches lazily and slides like molasses with Erisa’s voice coaxing and warming the stream and “Gypsy in the Desert” rises up and rails against tradition as it tale sets out as much for survival as the need to just get away. As a title track, “Black Ball” follows its narrators gaze as the bounce of the sphere is picked up, processed and spit back out by a rock solid rhythm. The power of each jump amplifies the songs commitment as Erisa Rei shouts encouragement. - Alternate Root Magazine

"Erisa Rei – Black Ball"

“Anything worth loving is worth fighting for, and Erisa Rei has come on the scene swinging” is a quote from the Spring Hill, Tennessee roots rocker’s website bio. She proves this statement with each of her ten, self-penned songs on the new album, “Black Ball,” where she has mastered the one-two combination: Stun the listener with power, then, knock ‘em to their knees with vibrato.

Led by a production crew including Mike Kyle and Brent Hendrich, and released on the Pesky Fly Music label, this CD is Rei’s emotional ride, singing just what she feels. She can turn it on full-throttle with Wynonna-esque gusto, and a flickering falsetto keeps her vulnerable.

Opening with a Rolling Stones’ struttin’ vibe in “Gypsy in the Desert,” she follows up with her title track, and its biting lyrics: “I watch the black ball as it bounces/Out from the eye of your icy stare/Skating down off of your shoulder/Finding warmth outside the snare/Keep on rolling, keep on rolling/Black ball of blame.”

“Swing Back to Home” takes it down a notch, and Rei gives a dynamic and compelling performance with a most attractive longing in her voice. Killer stand-out – her a-la-Sarah McLachlan piano ballad “Like Dominoes” – once again shows that knack for writing striking imagery: “Thought we had it together/With our roots set in the ground/Thought you loved me better/But one push brings the whole thing down/Oh, like dominoes/Row by row/Our love is falling down the line/Like dominoes.”

Multi-faceted styles are revealed here. Rei’s got a playful side (“News to See”), a whispery quality with lovely chorus phrasing (“Pushed”), a soulful delivery backed by pads of organ (“Be Gone, Winter Long”) and even a chug-a-chug-a train shuffle (“Cannot Change”), which make her an exciting singer to hear.

Visit the artist’s website at - Music News Nashville

"Josh Discovers - Chick Singer Night? by Josh David Whitmore"

The second singer on this particular Chick Singer Night was a contemporary Christian singer named Erisa Rei. And I admit thinking, “Oh, no…..another christian rock singer. “ But let me tell you, this woman is a SINGER! Holy cow. From the first note of her first song, the French Quarter heard a vocal gift on display that is not seen very often in East Nashville. Or anywhere inside or outside of Nashville. Soul. Emotion. Power. And what is more, she was ……for lack of a better phrase……’emotionally invested” in each song she sang; in between songs she had to breathe deeply as a release; I’ve seen the best of them do this. But ONLY the best. What an unexpected thrill. She sings “like Wynonna tries to sing,” as the pretty lady sitting next to me remarked. I didn’t say it, but I won’t argue. Perhaps because Chick Singer Night is a premier networking opportunity, I think Erisa’s set was a bit lost on this crowd. Which is a shame. My goodness, this young lady can sing!? - Music News Nashville

" Review"

Erisa Rei’s Backwards EP is one power-packed little firecracker. At only four songs in length, it is but a small taste of what this explosive singer can do. Yet it’s more than enough material to evaluate Rei’s earthshaking talent.

Some biographical material compares Rei to blues singer Susan Tedeschi and classic rockers Heart. No doubt these two acts were models for what Rei attempts to project. But I hear a few other significant (potential) influences, as well.

I don’t believe it’s any coincidence that Rei looks a little like Wynonna Judd. While Rei doesn’t growl like Wynonna, nor does she get many chances to harmonize like the younger Judd once did with her mom, this smoldering pop-rock singer oftentimes reminds me of an un-country Wynonna. Rei also shares Wynonna’s Christian faith.

Maria McKee is another vocalist Rei resembles. This is especially true during “Cover Me," which brings to mind Lone Justice’s “Shelter." Lone Justice was McKee’s breakthrough rock band, before she set out for solo ground, and McKee’s sound is also conjured whenever Rei sings in that conversational style of hers. She's is not just singing at you; she's also talking to you.

Tim Holt, who also provided digital programming, bass guitar, and keyboards, produced this effort. He brought along Mike Caro for some of the disc’s bass work, while Erik Ferguson contributes electric, acoustic, and bass guitars. It’s what Holt doesn’t do that counts most, however. He doesn’t let the instrumentation overpower Rei’s vocals. Then again, a full-on hurricane would have trouble drowning out Rei’s powerful pipes.

Rei wrote all four of these songs, and while her words could easily be applied to male/female relationships, one suspects all of these tunes are directed solely at God above. Both the title track and “Cover Me” speak of looking for the divine in an oftentimes dark and godless world. But with “I Still Need You,” Rei sings sincerely about her desperate need for God. On it she asks God to show her whenever self-reliance replaces God-dependency.

One factor that separates these songs from all the mostly forgettable sugarcane in cellophane that fills Christian radio play lists is Rei’s serious demeanor, put to minor key melodies. There are no useless everything-is-alright-forever tracks here. Instead, Rei is begging for God to not only save her in the afterlife, but to uphold her soul for as long as it takes for that day to arrive. When she begs God to break her spiritual chains during the closer “Set Me Free," you best believe she means it.


2007- Backwards (EP) 

2012- Black Ball (LP) 

2015- About Love (single)

Summer 2016- Glass Jar (EP)



2016 John Lennon Songwriting Contest  for "Don't Fade Away"

2016 Song of the Year Contest Runner-Up for "Open Skies" 

2016 ISC Semi-finalist for "Social Novocaine"

2013 Pepsi Southern Original National Semi-Finalist

2015 Belk Southern Musician Showcase National Semi-Finalist

2012 Warner Bros. Records Showcase Winner

It is rare to find a music artist so unique that you have to come up with a new phrase to classify their sound. Such is the case for Erisa Rei, a professional vocalist and songwriter firmly established in the Americana genre but possessing a sound that can be described only as “homegrown soul”. Whether she is performing at the legendary Blue Bird Café in Nashville or entertaining fans while touring Europe, Erisa’s down-to-earth personality and lyrical storytelling have helped audiences discover a genuine and authentic connection with her.

For Erisa, the notion of pursuing singing for a career didn’t occur to her until her college years. She studied dance as a teenager, focusing on ballet and modern dance but also setting aside some time to test the waters in ballroom and swing. She was also putting some of her energy into Christian music and was active in her local church, but when she graduated high school and prepared to begin classes at Lincoln College, Erisa was looking for ways to keep tuition costs down.

“I always thought I would be a dancer,” she explains. “But I enrolled at Lincoln and I decided to audition for the college choir and ended up being awarded a music scholarship.”

Erisa hasn’t looked back, having since released two CDs with a third release planned for later this year. Her deeply personal lyrics have always offered listeners a look behind the curtain for a glimpse of her emotions and experiences. Her debut EP, Backwards, dropped in 2007 at a time when Erisa was trying to find her way in both life and faith.

“The tone on the album was blues-like. I had never really listened to much blues rock but when I did start listening to it, I was intrigued,” Erisa recounts. “I began writing my own version of that sonically with the lyrics of what I was going through at the time. I had come to a point in my life where I felt as if the naive part of me had been stripped away and I was reeling, That time period made me question a lot of things about my faith and how I was raised.”

Her second CD, Black Ball, would release five years later in 2012 and explored themes similar to those appearing in Backwards. The CD reached #2 on the Roots Music Report’s Rock Internet charts as well as #26 on Roots 66 International charts.

“It (Black Ball) was the product of going through more stripping down of suppositions

I had made about life,” she points out. “It also touched on ending some toxic relationships that I’d had. Trouble can have a way of getting you down to the bare basics, to simplicity, if you allow it. It's a very humbling place, but can really help you grow as a person.”

For as much as those two CDs delved into Erisa’s struggles, her upcoming CD, Glass Jar, comes from a much different place and describes the healing process that follows those periods of personal turmoil.

“I want people to listen to Glass Jar and feel like they are back on Grandma's porch in their rocker and reminiscing about the past whether it be good or bad,” Erisa explains. “I want people to feel like they are back in a safe place where everyone cares about you no matter how stupid you've been or what mistakes you've made.

In the meantime, Erisa is getting plenty of opportunities to connect with fans through live performances at venues in addition to performing for fans online. A finalist in the 2016 John Lennon Songwriting Content, Erisa spent part of her life living in Nashville and performed at the historical Blue Bird Café, a venue that has seen performances from some of the biggest names in the industry in addition to being a setting for the hit ABC television show, Nashville. In addition to performing at the Blue Bird, Erisa has also spent some time touring Europe where she played in cities like London, Paris, Glasgow, and Dublin.

“That was such a great experience,” she remembers fondly. “My mother studied art in Ireland and France and I went on a couple of mission trips so traveling overseas was something I was familiar with. I was happy that some fans and friends came out to watch me when I was there. One even drove 4 hours to come and hear me and meet me. I was honored by that.”

Considering her warm personality and fondness for appreciating the good things in life, it seems only appropriate that Erisa uses “homegrown soul” to describe her sound.

Band Members