SWAMP SOUL SONGSTRESS
MARCELLA RENÉ SIMIEN
"Simien is in the core of Memphis tradition- different roots influences in idiosyncratic and unexpected ways. She is one of the most interesting artists to emerge on the Memphis scene in years.” -Chris Herrington, GoMemphis, Memphis Commercial Appeal
What does a smile sound like? Hailing from Lafayette, Louisiana, Simien grew up onstage with her father, two- time GRAMMY award winner Terrance Simien. In 2009 she moved to Memphis to attend the Memphis College of Art. In no time she was back onstage, delighting audiences with a sound born from fusing elements of her Creole heritage with the angelic grind of Memphis soul.
Like savoring the flavors in a dish made by a master chef, one detects in Simien’s music subtle yet devastating touches of the Memphis and Muscle Shoals sounds infused with the fingerprint of her Creole ancestors—that now laughing, now sighing Zydeco accordion and exhortations in shouted Creole French. Throughout, Simien’s voice, an instrument fierce and galloping with dignified pleading, floats above the music’s cradled melee like a night star, fondly reminding us of a mysterious past while at once exciting us with the romance of the uncertain future.
In addition to her extensive work with her own group, Marcella and Her Lovers, Simien was featured on her father’s most recent album “Dockside Sessions”, which won a GRAMMY™ in January of 2014 for Best Regional Roots Album of the Year. She co-wrote a song on the Dockside album with percussionist George Receli (Bob Dylan, Keith Richards), who produced the album. She has recorded with hip hop artist Cities Aviv, and was featured on the album “Digital Lows”. One of her contributions to the Cities project, the track “Black Box”, was featured on thindieplaylists.com (summer of 2011) compilation in the company of Arcade Fire, Mayer Hawthorne, Modest Mouse, Coldplay, and many others.
Simien has shared the stage with Taj Mahal, Susan Cowsill, Jack “Jack O” Yarber (the Oblivions, solo), Trombone Shorty, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and Susan Marshall among others. She has performed with her father’s band at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Festival International de Louisiane, as well as solo engagements at Cité des Arts, Hi Tone Cafe, ABC Local 24’s morning show, Mollie Fontaine Lounge, Bar DKDC, the Folk Alliance Conference, GRAMMY™ GPS, and at Memphis Crosstown Arts art space.
Marcella René Simien