By Mary Kiser
You can scroll through any YouTube music video to find the cliché “Music is officially dead” in the comment section, unless you’re watching Samantha Fish.
She’s a homegrown artist from Kansas City, Missouri, who’s cultivated the fervor of a rock and roll sound, but with a serving of blues on the side. While her latest album Chills & Fever, which features R&B gems from the ‘60s and ‘70’s produced by Bobby Harlow and featuring The Detroit Cobras, dishes soul as the entrée, Fish platters rock as the appetizer. Her sounds are intertwined together, so fans are stuffed and satisfied. However, they’ll always be hungry for more.
Whether Fish belts out her pain as in the Nina Simone classic “Either Way I Lose” or opts for an up-tempo backdrop against her sultry croons of Charles Sheffield’s “It’s Your Voodoo Working”. her childhood memories set the tone.
“I grew up listening to everything. My father and uncles played rock ‘n’ roll and heavy metal, but my dad and his friends would play bluegrass, country, blues. There was a lot of different genres that influenced me. I just listen to anything,” she says.
Fish’s bodies of work will always mirror what she feels. While people may know her with a guitar in hand, she’s freed from any box, definition, or label. She’s her own person, and her own artist.
Unlike her last three albums, her fourth album highlights her talent unhinged.
“I was always restrained when I went into the studio. I could hear every flaw magnified, so I would get performance anxiety. I recorded Chills & Fever with a different mindset, though,” she says. Her producer Bobby Harlow had her record in a quirky motel, or a “crazy-ass motel,” as Fish would say. He wanted her to feel like Ray Charles, for example. The legend had little room for error in the music business, so he had to put his heart and soul into his craft. Well, Harlow wanted Fish to feel the same pressure. His plan would only work if Fish did the heavy lifting.
“In the past I was too self-conscious to give my all, but I threw [my everything] into Chills & Fever,” she says. She realized how her “flaws” and “imperfections” gave her album the oomph that made her songs worthwhile. Nobody wants to go through horrific heartbreak, insecurity, or infidelity, but her experiences make Fish’s work relatable. No wonder she’s grown her fandom, played in France, Germany, and New Zealand, and jammed alongside icons like Buddy Guy, Steven Tyler and Alice Cooper.
The Missourian’s accomplished so much, and her events and encounters are just as noteworthy as her Billboard Blues Albums Chart position of Chills & Fever, which is currently at #5. Her ultimate goal goes beyond the praise and accolades, though. She just wants to make her audience feel. “I want to inspire people,” she says.
While she would love to win a Grammy (She is human, after all.), she strives to give others what music has given her: life.
Samantha will be exciting Charleston audiences this Thursday, April 20th at The Windjammer on IOP