Smithfield Herald

Musician putting down ‘Roots’

Rebekah Todd, third from left, and her bandmates are recording her first full-length album.
Rebekah Todd, third from left, and her bandmates are recording her first full-length album.

A young and unproven musician from Benson wandered into the white, double-wide trailer just past Pleasure Ride Auto off of Dickinson Avenue. She carried an acoustic guitar, sheer natural talent and the anxiousness of stepping onto a stage for the first time.

The car dealership next door would eventually outlive the makeshift music venue, but the enchanting chords and tranquil voice of Rebekah Todd continue to captivate those who attend her performances.

Eight years have passed since Todd’s debut show. Today, the folk artist is recording her first full-length studio album with some of the most talented musicians Greenville has to offer.

“I really want to release it the right way this time and kind of get in touch with the right people that can distribute and promote it on a national level,” said Todd, who released an EP in 2011. “I’m going to take my time finding the right people to work with.”

Behind the scenes, Todd is working with a full cast of capable musicians, including East Carolina University School of Music products Chris Knuckles, Evan Roberson and Brandon Shamar.

William Seymour, a bassist who has performed with Todd, and Demetrice Everett, a drummer who has shared the stage with some of the biggest names in gospel and neo-soul music, are also collaborating with Todd.

“They’ve all laid down pretty much every track that was necessary in two days, which is pretty unheard of,” Todd said. “They’ve laid down drums, scratch track, bass, saxophone, trombone and keys … in two days. People told me that was impossible, and they came and did it. It really only took them a total of 10 hours for nine songs.”

The album, titled “Roots Bury Deep,” will build upon the foundation of Todd’s solo acoustic sound by adding keyboard, saxophone, trombone, strings and a slew of other instruments, creating a fuller sound. The album will feature nine songs of new material and omit tracks from her 2011 EP, titled “Forget Me Not.”

Having yet to choose a promoter or distributor, the album’s projected release date is sometime this fall.

“I feel like it’s going pretty smoothly so far,” Knuckles said. “We’re able to knock songs out without running into any group problems.”

The group’s chemistry was on display for the first time Aug. 10 at Live Bar, where Everett met Todd for the first time. His dexterity was put to the test when Todd asked him to learn the drum line of her new songs on the fly.

“I had only two to three minutes to learn five songs,” Everett said. “Once we got on stage, the chemistry was like, ‘Damn, I want to ride this journey out.’ I think it can hit the radio, TV and tours. I think with this music and this type of band, we can really make history.”

John Harrell and The Sound Barn Recording Studios are producing “Roots Bury Deep.”

The group has sent sample songs to a mix of record labels and music outlets throughout the country.

“I’m really excited,” Todd said. “This is what we do.”