Every once in a while, an artist comes along who’s a star even before the rest of the world recognizes the fact. The list is short but memorable and admirable – ranging from Judy Garland to David Bowie. Ask anyone who knows Rosey – and that includes friends and fans on both coasts — and they’ll tell you that Rosey is already a star. Which is another way of saying that Rosey is truly an original.
Ask anyone who’s met Rosey, and they’ll tell you she’s an amazing blend of contradictions – innocent though worldly; earthy but spiritual; goofy yet serious; beautiful and sexy but approachable. And if music is truly an outgrowth of the artist’s soul, then the music this singer songwriter creates is truly indicative of the person – which is indefinable and one of a kind.
Rosey has described her influences as:
brazilian-cuban-jazzed out fusions-reggae-australian,
and torch song standards”
The Beatles figure in there somewhere. So does old-time Broadway show music. It’s a very diverse blend, one she has coined the term “urban rock ‘n’ roll” to describe. “It’s got a lot of elements of rock ‘n’ roll – guitars and all live instruments,” she explains. “But it has the sound of the streets – hip-hop beats and urban vibes.”
Accordingly, after the national press heard Rosey for the first time, thanks to the inclusion of her “Love” – Dirty Child’s kickoff track – on the successful Bridget Jones’s Diary soundtrack, the initial praises led to comparisons that were equally diverse: Macy Gray, Portishead, Fiona Apple, Dave Matthews, Chaka Khan, Ella Fitzgerald, and “the love child of Robert Plant and Rickie Lee Jones” are a few of the names the national press has dropped her way. The soundtrack also led to that same press recognizing that star quality her friends and fans already knew: E! Online proclaimed her track alone worth the price of the CD. And Entertainment Weekly named the musical synthesist – who claims she primarily listens to the blues all the time – one of last “Summer’s Hottest Singers.”
A lot of the elements that go into the songstress’s musical mix stem from the sounds she absorbed growing up in a very musical multi-generational family, her years as a world music college DJ and her more recent days as a performing musician in NYC, San Francisco, Boston, and LA. “But more than anything, my melodies were learned singing Hebrew in the choir in temple as a child,” she explains, bringing yet another element to the table. “ I just loved the sounds of the melodies in those songs and the universality of them – the melodies are the same all over the world.
“I’ve always also loved psychedelic rock, like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. And funk like Sly Stone and Stevie Wonder. And sounds from the Delta and Chicago blues like John Lee Hooker and Buddy Guy. I wanted all that in my sound. So, ultimately, we just tried to find an equal balance of old & new sounds.”
“We” would be Rosey and producer Darryl Swann (Macy Gray), who took the artist into an LA studio with a band assembled from musicians who’ve regularly played with Gray, Beck, Everlast, and Ben Harper.
“It’s an all-star kinda cast,” says Rosey, “and they put so much positive energy into the songs that I only hope that same energy will be felt by the people who hear it and that it makes them feel as good as it made me feel in the studio creating it.”
“Darryl really gave me a chance to be creative and he really pushed me a lot to try new things,” she says of the collaboration. “He’d teach me gospel things, and then I’d put my own Rosey thing on it. When it was finished, I felt like a new person. I’m surprisingly happy with this album, even though I’m a perfectionist by nature.”
Ironically, fate has played a major role in Rosey’s life, and creating music “is something I fell into by accident,” she laughs. “ I never planned to be an artist.” Actually, her dream once upon a time was to be a record company executive. “My ultimate dream would’ve been to work for Peter Gabriel as an A&R person at Real World Records, signing really cool, eclectic international bands. I’d already worked for promoters, beginning at 15. I’d booked and worked in clubs, photographed and styled bands. I’d been a DJ and interned for major labels throughout college, so it seemed like a natural progression.”
But after she finally landed a gig at a major label as a talent scout on the West Coast after interning at numerous companies, the budding exec soon discovered that A&R wasn’t what she dreamed it would be. One day, she took her guitar to work and was singing loud enough for the A&R team to hear her. “They were like, ‘What the hell? You can sing. What are you doing here? Go practice and get yourself a record deal!”
So she quit and soon was gaining a reputation in some of the country’s better-known clubs – initially in San Francisco, where she first put a band together, and then back in NYC, where she hit Spy, the Mercury Lounge, Bitter End, CBGB’s, and all the regular haunts.
During the day, she waited tables at a restaurant where she ironically met more music execs than she did while working at the labels. “I’d give them my demos, and I actually got a buzz going through that,” she recalls. Rosey had already met and was being groomed by Island A&R rep Diana Fragnito. With the support of Sr. VP of A&R Jeff Fenster, the creative process was underway when she had a chance meeting with the label’s President/CEO Lyor Cohen, who was bewildered that everyone who worked for his label already seemed to know Rosey. Cohen told the singer to come to his office the next afternoon. She sang for him. The rest, as they say, is history.
Obviously, Cohen was swayed by that obvious star quality, not to mention the …well, rosey vibe that comes through both Rosey the person and her music. There’s an often metaphysical, almost ‘60s hippie-ish vibe to it. “In life, there are so many obstructions and distractions that you have to find some spiritual peace, so you can remember to be happy,” she claims. “It’s so hard. You see all the pain in the world on the TV and around you. I think most of my songs start here in this place of suffering and then travel on this journey somewhere towards freedom from it. I just feel there has to be some sort of hope at the end of every song. I want that for myself. And I want people to feel that they have choices and a chance to wish for whatever they want. I love the dream of ultimate peace. I love Buddha – but I don’t push my beliefs on anyone. I just like putting little things in my songs about enlightenment.
“The whole concept of seeing the world through rose-colored glasses has always appealed to me,” continues Rosey, who says her name evolved from La Choca Rosa, a college band she formed with some girlfriends, and was finally cemented by a male friend named Ross – a fellow musician who started calling her Rosey after she first referred to him by the same name. “No, you’re Rosey!” he argued. “And I decided he’s right,” she laughs. “I am.” Soon, she began performing gigs in San Francisco using that name. “That’s why I always say Rosey is a state of mind as well as a name. It’s this whole vibe I like to live inside of – so I can float through life a little more happy and protected. The name just makes me happy; it makes me smile.” Which, ultimately, is what Dirty Child should also accomplish for any discerning fan of great one-of-a-kind music.