"What you should know: Robin Pearl is an artist who's willing to take creative chances. While Pearl cites a variety of music influences—Motown, traditional country and folk rock—she has nevertheless synthesized them into a sound that is clearly her own."
- John Schoenberger, The Album Network
These conflicts are thoughtfully presented in her dynamic music, which is by turns soulful (The Album Network), sensual (Billboard), vulnerable (GAJOOB), playful and raw (Music Reviews Quarterly).
Pearl’s music is powered by her rich, bluesy voice—but she’s not a blues singer. She grooves to Detroit rhythm and soul, but she’s not straight-ahead rock or Motown, either. And while she writes the songs she sings straight from the heart, she explodes the stereotype of terminally sincere singer-songwriters. She’s drawn from myriad influences and challenges to develop a musical voice all her own.
Capturing Pearl’s vision on her first album, Wisteria, is a crew of real musicians’ musicians: Edward Tree, Taras Prodaniuk, Teresa James, David Raven, the late Billy Block, and the Texacali Horns (Joe Sublett and Darrell Leonard). On the radio-ready “Nobody sees the Angel,” Tree’s swampy slide guitar answers the call of Pearl’s crying vocal. The Texacali Horns pump some funky swing into “Myth in Blue.” “Story” is an urgent musical summation of the hard-earned lessons that ultimately reinvigorated Pearl’s determination to pursue her dreams. From the horn-driven passion of “Excusable Affair” to the pained “Compromise” and the full-throttle, open-throated rocker “It Sure Ain’t Love,” Wisteria presents the multi-dimensional view of an independent woman striving to balance artistic ambition with the demands of life.
Framed by a blue-lit backdrop, microphone in hand, Robin Pearl takes a breath and starts to sing. On a summer Saturday afternoon in Nashville, Tennessee, Pearl had the chance to jump on stage and join accomplished singer-songwriter Paul Jenkins in a spontaneous rendition of his song “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” the smash Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson hit.
“I've been asked lots of times why I moved to Nashville,” says Pearl, who also resides part-time in Long Beach, California. “[Since arriving], I’ve been part of an ever-increasing circle of very encouraging artists who’ve helped me get my musical mojo back.”
But did it ever really leave? The vivacious daughter of schoolteachers, Pearl grew up listening to soul (Aretha Franklin, Gladys Night), country (Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson), and what she calls “Mom’s music” (Simon & Garfunkel, Cat Stevens) in her hometown of in central Michigan. After one year at CMU, Pearl traveled 2,000 miles west to perfect her craft in Southern California.
Onstage and in studios, she’s worked with some of the best players in L.A. It was while making the sometimes brutalizing rounds of showcases, clubs and coffeehouses that she found her sound and developed her lyrical voice. She says, “I write fact, fiction, sometimes bits of both; occasionally of the conflicts of two distinctly different roles as a woman—mother and artist.”
Photos at the Palomino Club, North Hollywood, CA were taken by J. Watson Garman.
Call it acoustic rock, call it alternative soul, call it Americana—call it what you want. But listen. In a world that doesn’t necessarily reward or even understand ethics and compassion, the open heart can’t fail to be moved by one individual’s powerful embrace of her vibrant art. Robin Pearl has a sweet grit and an incredible voice unlike any you’ve heard.
Robin splits her time between Nashville and California, which allows her to write, play and collaborate with some of the most talented musicians and writers in Music City and the LBC. She's working on a big-band meets roots record—working title, The Love Sessions—ETA, spring of 2020.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this here's the real thing.
- Chuck Taylor, Billboard Magazine
Robin Pearl performing with Paul Jenkins
at Backstage Nashville