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Moore: You are a hometown girl. Tell me about your childhood here, and how you got started in music.
Gerdes: Well, I grew up in Springfield…went to school here, all through high school, and I come back and visit as much as I can. It’s still what I consider home, definitely in my heart. I think I began singing when I was around three. It started somewhere in the fields around our house. I would run around and sing ‘The hills are alive with the sound of music,’ and to passing cars that would drive by. I thought that was a really good idea.
I took piano lessons and sang with all of the choirs in my school and did the musicals, and actually studied privately with an instructor here at MSU. And then I went to the University of Kansas and studied opera there. And then I relocated to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music.
[Music: excerpt from song “Boom”: “He said he liked the way I move…”]
Moore: Okay, Ingrid, so your style—your musical style—has been described as ‘neo-soul.’ So, explain to me, do you endorse that…that genre, if you will, and what does that mean, exactly?
Gerdes: Yes, that is basically what I call my music. I think it’s the easiest way to describe it. It’s a bit of an homage to old soul, kind of blues music, from maybe The Stax record era and Motown, infused with some modern stuff that’s along those R & B, soul, kind of, veins.
[Music: excerpt from song “Boom”: “You’ve got to show me how you move, move, move…”]
Gerdes: It’s kind of like a reimagined version of what soul singers would be doing…I guess, back in the 1950s and ‘60s…A lot of my inspiration comes from that time period.
Moore: So, nowadays, it’s almost rare to have an artist or a performer write the songs he or she is performing. But in your case, that’s different.
Gerdes: Yes, this is true. I definitely write all of my own music. I write the lyrics, the instrumental parts. I produce everything. I’m kind of a perfectionist and I would like to have creative control, because I consider this my artistic expression. And to have somebody else speak for me and create a different image for me is not something I would really like to do. So, I like to have control over everything I put out.
[Music: excerpt from song “Shed”: “So I’m gonna shed all these emotions…”]
Moore: When someone goes to your website, Ingrid, they immediately hear the song, “Shed.” Tell me about that song.
Gerdes: Everything that I write and record has some element of my personal life in it—whether or not it’s something that I’ve just witnessed, or observed, or it comes from my friends, or personally in my life. It’s about letting go of anything that’s holding you back, celebrating who you are, and just kind of being free—and accepting that. Moving forward with a forward with a strong…a strong, new beginning, kind of…and letting go of old pain.
Moore: Tell me about your family still living here. What do you do you when you see them?
Gerdes: I love coming home, because both of my parents live in the country. My mom lives in the Rogersville area, kind of, and my dad kind of lives over by Republic. The biggest thing I look forward to is, obviously, seeing my family, and my good friends who are still here. But [also], being outside. Because, living in Boston, even though it’s very green—there are a lot of trees and things everywhere—but it’s not the same. I’m very much a country girl at heart, and it keeps me grounded and reminds me of where I come from, and what’s important.
[Music: excerpt from song “Wicked”: “The first time you laid eyes on him, he was wearing black Armani…”]
Moore: Springfield native Ingrid Gerdes and her band will be featured Thursday afternoon on NPR’s All Things Considered. For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.