Boston-based soul-blues singer Ingrid Gerdes grew up here in Springfield, and is returning home for a performance—her first local gig in 15 years!—at Lindberg’s on Commercial Street on Saturday Feb. 21st from 7:00 to 9:00pm.
John Darkhorse, host of KSMU’s Route 66 Blues Express, talked to Ingrid by phone for his program this week. You’ll be able to hear the complete 12-minute conversation starting about 11:30pm Saturday night on KSMU, but here are some samples.
Last September Ingrid Gerdes released her third CD, High Priestess, and John asked her if it has been getting lots of airplay. “It’s been amazing how supportive the roots and blues radio stations have been to this record,” said Ingrid. “All over the United States it’s always been in the Top 50 for the Roots Report. And then some guys in Canada picked it up, and now it’s over in the UK. So I’m getting a ton of support from the blues community.”
Asked what she’s been doing since leaving Springfield, Ingrid said, “I left for school—I first attended the University of Kansas where I studied voice performance. I left there in 2002 and moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music. And I’ve been in Boston basically for 13 years, creating music, collaborating with all the amazing musicians out there.”
Now, it’s not quite correct to say Ingrid Gerdes hasn’t performed at all in Springfield in 15 years—just not in a club or bar setting. Ingrid appeared on Jeff Houghton’s local TV talk show The Mystery Hour recently and performed her song “Lindenlure” from the new CD with members of the local M-Dock Band. “It was so fantastic, because as soon as I mentioned the Finley River, people in the audience started ‘Woo!’ Because when I sing it in Boston, people are just like, ‘Oh, what a lovely song....’ But here it actually means something to people.”
John Darkhorse asked Ingrid when she first became interested in the blues. She said it was actually when she was “really little, maybe like three years old, I first came in contact with blues and soul music. Later on I discovered Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, Little Walter, Otis Redding, and Donnie Hathaway (and other) really great soul vocalists. And I’ve always been inspired by that music. I’m one of those people—I’m passionate about all music. I studied opera early on. I love to sing classical, I love to sing jazz, traditional R&B. Any kind of music that has passion always speaks to me.
“(Promoting) my last record, I was on NPR’s All Things Considered, and they needed me to classify my style. And so somehow I got labeled as a ‘neo-soul’ artist—which is kind of funny because I don’t think anybody knows what that means! So now it’s pretty clear I’m a ‘soul-blues’ musician.”
John was curious about whether Ingrid ever finds her mind wandering while onstage: “Do you think about your cat? Your fishbowl?” Ingrid laughed and replied, “I’m usually thinking about my cats! My biggest goal, and this is something I tell students that I mentor and other musicians, is to be present in the music at the time. As a vocalist specifically, I think the job is not about ‘you’, it’s about delivering the song for the intended purpose. My goal is always to find the underlying emotion or energy of whatever song I’m performing, and deliver that in an authentic way—and also to really listen carefully to the musicians that are playing with me.”
Ingrid says her classical training comes in handy. “The technique is so key. I frequently have gigs that are four hours long (!), and I always sing my heart out—I don’t hold back. And to be able to do that and not lose your voice is super important. So I use my classical training to really take care of my instrument. I’m really grateful for that early classical training.”
Ingrid wrapped up the interview by describing the local gig Saturday the 21st at Lindbergs. “My band from Boston is flying in to do the show. I’m also collaborating with some amazing local musicians,” including M-Dock Band members and a local horn section. “So it’s kind of a marriage between East Coast and the Ozarks. That’s exactly who I am, so I’m happy ato have that represented at this performance.”