Shelly Fairchild instantly wowed critics with her 2005 recording debut, "Ride," which spawned the Billboard Hot Country Songs top 40 hit "You Don't Lie Here Anymore." Now the ferocious stage performer is ready to blow them away once again with "Love Everybody," the first single from her new record, Ruby's Money. The new album—due April. 11 on Revelation Nation Records—is set to transform the sound... of modern soul.
Fairchild's fans hand-picked "Love Everybody" as the introductory single for its infectious, anthemic quality and earth-shaking rhythms. Think of it as a gospel revival on hydraulics that's rocket-fueled by rock/funk outfit Ruby's Money, and a no-bullshit diva who superbly channels Janis Joplin's fierce spirit. "I didn't want to be preachy because I'm not that way as a musician or a person," Fairchild says. "But it's basically saying that if I let go of the things that I fear about someone or something, then it gives me a chance to open up to loving everybody and loving everything and really just leading from a place of love as opposed to a place of fear or hate or animosity."
Her collaborations with hit songwriter Stephony Smith (author of such cuts as Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's "It's Your Love" and Kenny Chesney's "Big Star") for new album "Ruby's Money" would fit right alongside a radio playlist of CeeLo Green's "Fuck You," Lenny Kravitz's "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over" and Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good." For instance, Fairchild gets a little political on "Here's Your Box," which explores how "we're supposed to be so free, but we're really sort of not during different administrations." "Hallelujah, You've Been Blessed" is exactly the full-throttle, four-on-the-floor soul revival its name implies, where Fairchild emits heart-stopping caterwauls that could resurrect the dead. She can also dial things down to smolder on the groove-filled blues of "Like I Tried To"—"It's a ballad, and it's just a beast," Fairchild says of the song, which climaxes with a lengthy band jam.
The seasoned stage veteran (who carried leading roles in the musicals "Beehive: The 60s Musical" and "Always Patsy Cline" and has supported superstars like Trace Adkins and Rascal Flatts in concert) will easily convert followers with the blues- and R&B-infused testimony she was born to spread. Growing up in Jackson, Miss., where Aretha Franklin once recorded at Malaco Studios, Fairchild absorbed the blues throughout her childhood. "It was kind of everywhere you went," she recalls. "I grew up in a family where they loved music and my dad listened to a lot of country, and then I was raised in a Southern Baptist church, so that's where gospel really came in."
When she hit Nashville to kick off her music career, she landed on Columbia thanks to performing a live rendition of Fiona Apple's "Criminal" and a few Patty Griffin songs in the label's office. "I had this bluesy, soulful element that I always wanted to bring to my music no matter what, and they let me do that. But I had to stay within certain parameters on my first record," Fairchild says of "Ride," which brought her mainstream attention and praise from such publications as People and American Songwriter Magazine. "It was a good first project for me. It was really amazing to make a record in Nashville." She compares her departure from the label "to graduating from high school to college. I feel like I learned so much. It was like my school and then I developed who I was as a songwriter and got on to the next phase of my life."
Now Fairchild is taking complete control of her music by releasing her "Ruby's Money" album through her own Revelation Nation Records label. For the project, Fairchild and Smith (also who acted as producer) have erected a new-millennium soul sound that's housed within a framework established by icons like Ike & Tina Turner, Sly & the Family Stone, Isaac Hayes and Barry White. "I hear music a certain way, certain syncopations and things that are a lot different than the feel in the '70s. But I wanted to have songs that have the same sort of impact of those songs from that era," Fairchild says. "That's what I tried to do: take what I know now and what I feel I know now with what I know about then and how I feel listening to music from back then."
Fairchild is excited to deliver the album on April 11th so fans and newcomers alike can experience the music that's she's poured four years of her life into manifesting. "I'm really passionate about whatever it is that I get into. Whether it's me painting or me writing a song or me drawing or me acting or dancing, I pay close attention to details," enthuses Fairchild, who hopes to do a run of U.S. live dates in 2011.
"I was so scared about being independent," she admits of deciding to release "Ruby's Money" on her own instead of shopping it to a major label. "But as soon as I became independent I felt like every possibility, every opportunity, everything was so open. Making this record, I felt like my soul was unleashed. I was able to sing how I sing and make choices like I would make 'em live. I feel so open and I feel so many acts—so many great, solid artists that we know and love—are finding themselves somehow independent and making it work. I think the possibilities for them, and for me, are endless."