Ready, Reset, Go

By Tara Murtha
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 18 | Posted Oct. 5, 2010

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Photo by Jeff Fusco

Performing onstage with Idle Warship, a collaboration with Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli and Canadian musician Graph Nobel, singer Res vamps in a leopard-skin, Hollywood pin-up dress, her hand folded into a pistol she stabs into the air, keeping time on a song that hangs on that voice, big as the sky and effortless as a bird.

Res (pronounced “Reese”) still looks every bit the 23-year-old sexy club princess donning a tiara and white wife-beater with the girlie-glossed lips in the “Golden Boys” video that spun seemingly nonstop on VH1 Soul 10 years ago.

While the singer looks—and sounds—pretty much the same, everything else around her has changed.

Res spent most of the last decade on a rollercoaster ride through the music industry. On the breakthrough artistic promise of early hits like “Golden Boys,” “They-Say Vision” and “Ice King” off her 2001 debut album How I Do, Res lived large out in L.A. for years in a beachfront pad, cherry-picking producers and studio musicians and flying overseas for gigs on the label’s shiny dime.

The upstart was determined to ascend as high as the game goes. But then the wheels came flying off the music industry and mid-level artists like Res were tossed out of the carriage. Now, Res is back home, a music-industry refugee seeking asylum in Philly where she’s rebuilding her career, DIY-style.

“I’m trying to incorporate myself back into the Philly scene and figure out where I fit in,” she says. “I need to build a musical home for myself and build a buzz. It’s a new time for me. It’s a rebirth. I’m doing this again, from scratch.”

This time around, Res is working on her own terms. To announce that she’s home and ready to rock, the singer is hosting a homecoming residency Sunday nights through October at Silk City she’s calling Reset, also the name of the forthcoming album that will be ready for release early next year.

Without label support, Res is a one-woman business screening musicians, scheduling rehearsals, booking shows and pushing publicity to lift her brand-new show, album and career up off the ground.

On a recent afternoon, Res sits in a coffee shop in West Philly, chilled-out in her everyday uniform of boots, jeans, sweatshirt, no make-up. She spent the better part of her day dropping postcards off at coffee shops and stapling posters to telephone poles.

“No wonder people do that at night,” she laughs. “People looked at me like I was crazy!”

It’s not that Res is a diva. She just never had to do these kinds of hands-on, nuts-and-bolts tasks. She shot through up from being an unknown to a Big Deal with one big bang back when artists were still developed—now a concept as foreign as an 8-track tape.

“I was sitting on a cushion where I could just perform and take pictures,” she says of her early time as an artist on MCA Records. She describes a sort of upper-middle-class style of artist, where you log a ton of hours toward a carefully planned upward trajectory. “In a way I wish I had to do more, but I wouldn’t have been as good.”

She didn’t have Skynyrd-style angst about workin’ for MCA.

“It wasn’t the classic situation where an artist hates the label,” she says. “It was, ‘You want to hire this musician?’ Cool. ‘You’re still living across from the beach and we’re paying for it?’ Cool. They took care of me as an artist.”

Res isn’t shy about admitting she’s not fond of working independently. On challenging days, she tweets frustrated blips like ‘I need a manager! I can’t do what I need to do without a budget!

But it’s better than the alternative.

“I don’t like all the things you have to do to be indie, but I love to sing more than any of it,” she says. There’s no going back. “I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing on earth.”

Known as Shareese Ballard while growing up on the Main Line, Res couldn’t hear destiny calling through the show tunes she sang as a student at Rita Cavell Music Studio in Bala Cynwyd. Cavell fondly recalls teaching “little Reesy.”

“Oh, she was a beautiful little girl,” coos Cavell. “Her voice was very strong, very expressive. Good pitch.”

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Comments 1 - 18 of 18
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1. Anonymous said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 06:26AM

“Thank you! Great Article on Indie Artist -Res ! I love the Philly music scene but it seems like the RB aspect gets all the love thanks for showing that Black.Girls.Rock!
Cant wait to check out Res at Silk City”

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2. Anonymous said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 06:55AM

“I've been listening to her for years, and I love her sound and style. It's good to see her getting some love around here.”

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3. tayyib said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 08:00AM

Go! Boo!”

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4. Drumaddict said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 08:27AM

“I personally got to work hang and tour w Resee in her LA beach days and just last week on my NY visit I saw her throw down in Brooklyn plus a couple months back at the temple bar. One artist /friend where I always bring atleast 5 cats w me. By the end of the night they buy her album and I say "I told you so" ;) and I will support my DIY girl always. This article is amazing - well deserved and Reset is going to be off the hook! I'm so very proud of u. Props to the Writer Tara M. foo ;)”

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5. shellyshell said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 10:56AM

“I have been a Fan of Res for a while, loved her first album, look foward to her new album . Hope Philly Weekly will keep her fans info about her shows in philly, will be check her out at silk city on sunday”

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6. HOUSE OF VIBE said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 12:43PM


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7. Anonymous said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 01:32PM

“awesome article. dope artist. glad to see indie folks who are doing it the unconventional way getting shine. i'll definitely be at RESET on sunday and you should too.”

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8. Preach Jacobs said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 02:15PM

“great article about a great artist. i look forward to her being back on a major getting the massive attention she so clearly deserves.”

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9. Tasha from LA said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 03:28PM

“Love Res glad to see she is moving around out there ..... I still rock How I Do everyday ..... and BLACK.GIRLS.ROCK! her 2nd album makes me smile ..... Idle Warship keeps me grooving ..... Hey Res you need any help I will do it for FREE to see you get what you deserve .... A true artist !!!!!!!! Glad to hear you went home to create ... I know it will be dope ..... Keep us posted!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

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10. Rah M. Sungee said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 04:56PM

“great article, hard struggles and hard work will only yield great success in the future. the universe is based on balance! keep the music coming.”

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11. Michael Bell Sr. said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 05:29PM

“Great article,It made her real. I say that because she never has gotten the publicity she rightfully deserves. You know, enough so that you could feel her,connect. I first saw her years ago on the HBO show Reverb along with Craig David and Sunshine Anderson. She was a breath of fresh air because she had found and was in her own lane. I appreciated her creativity, her strength as an artist and naturally as a person which she has proven by being able to weather the storm. I must admit, I was a bit concerned about her at one point in her career. I thought she was about to walk away from what she had already accomplish but, she didn't. Now that I have read this article, I now know that needn't be a concern any more.
I love her and I'm very proud of her for getting back to the reason she sings.
Thank you for such an insightful article”

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12. Taj said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 10:06PM

“I can't wait to see where her grind will take her, and I`ll definitely be following along the way. Don`t leave us hanging, PW - I want to hear more!”

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13. Cooke said... on Oct 7, 2010 at 12:04PM

“Great article tara - feel like I know the artist thru your writing. Really shows be thankful what you have at the time. I wish her success!”

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14. Priceless Hustle said... on Oct 7, 2010 at 06:22PM

“great article about a great artist. and she's looking beautiful as usual...cant wait until RESet...hope to see her featured more in the future...RES, keep doin ya thing..for us!”

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15. Jay said... on Oct 13, 2010 at 04:54PM

“Loved Black.Girls.Rock and it was pretty sweet to buy the CD directly from the artist. Had a fab time at her Atlanta gig just wish it had been longer!”

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16. akandabody said... on Oct 15, 2010 at 12:18AM

“I'm so happy to hear that Res is taking charge "making herself comeback", as supposed to "making a comeback", if you will. Not only do i enjoy your music, but i appreciate how you are showing other young African American girls that by being determined and taking initiative you can do and be whatever you want in this world. Of course I have to close by saying Black. Girls. Rock. What u didn't know!!!”

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17. Anonymous said... on Oct 19, 2010 at 06:11AM

“I've loved Res' work from the beginning. I'm already on my second Black.Girls.Rock cd because I scratched the first one from listening to it so much. I saw her at SouthPaw in Brooklyn last year, and at Blue Note the year before. If I wasn't living in NY I'd be at Rest every week. She is a great artist you is incredibly underrated. Show your support, buy her records and t-shirts on her website and go see her weekly shows.”

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18. Anonymous said... on Dec 9, 2010 at 10:14AM

“Res is going to be at Whole Foods Market in Jenkintown this Friday, December 10th from 7-8:30pm for a CD Release Party. Come meet Res, see a live performance, and enjoy wine and cheese. CDs on sale now and at the door! For more info visit or call 215-481-0800”


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