Ready, Reset, Go

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

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Though Res performed with the Al Alberts Showcase and the Teddy Pendergrass youth choir, she didn’t think about being a professional artist.

“I knew a lot of black girls who could sing,” she shrugs.

Singing was just something else she did on top of squash, tennis and lacrosse when she wasn’t in school or ringing the register alongside her father, who passed away in 2008, at one of the family’s five convenience stores in North Philly—a job all the Ballard kids were assigned when they were about 8 years old.

No, Res had modest aspirations: go to college, become a money market manager or something like that, get married and have some kids. Maybe sing on the side at open mikes for fun.

Then the script flipped. During the summer of 1997 after sophomore year as a finance major at Temple University, Res called Ron White looking for an internship. White, who passed away last year, was a Ballard family friend and prominent Philadelphia attorney and fundraiser for John Street. (In 2004, White made headlines for his alleged involvement in a corruption scandal with former Philadelphia City Treasurer Corey Kemp. He died before going to trial.)

White encouraged Res to give his daughter, Santi, a call. Santi, now better known by her stage name Santigold, had moved from her hometown of Mt. Airy to Brooklyn and was working as an A&R rep for Epic Records and songwriter.

“I called her and she was like, ‘Yeah we should write songs together,’” Res says. “So that turned into my staying in Brooklyn every weekend that summer.”

Santi wrote songs and Res sang them. The duo recorded and circulated demos and Santi introduced her friend to industry folk.

“I pretty much did everything they said to get the deal. It was about being in the right place at the right time and working hard and not even knowing I was working that hard,” she says. “It was fun and it was easy.”

Next thing, Res inked a deal, left Temple and recorded her debut album How I Do with a professional production team at Electric Ladyland studios in NYC.

“I really wasn’t an artist at that point,” she says. “I was a singer that got an opportunity to make an album and through making the album, I got developed. It turned my whole life around.”

No one else knew she was an artist before How I Do either.

“[My father] was like, ‘What? Reesy can’t sing!’ Then when I signed my contract and they said they were going to give me X amount of dollars, he was like, ‘What? They’re going to give you what?!’”

How I Do was released on MCA Records in June 2001. On it, Res’ vocals sear through pop songs otherwise kept cool with bubbly blips and other ambient flourishes. The hit “They-Say Vision” ultimately charted No. 1 on the Billboard Dance chart. To date, more than 300,000 records have been sold.

Fans and insiders are quick to tell you that How I Do is a criminally underrated album that could and should have rocketed Res to superstardom.

WXPN Program Director Bruce Warren insider and fan, recalls when the album dropped.

“We played the shit out of that record,” says Warren. “Res is … a totally fantastic artist that deserves the success so many lesser-quality have had over the years since her debut.”

Most radio stations don’t function like WXPN, a bastion of commercial-free, free-form radio.

“It got no promo activity in our format. It was an R&B record, and marketing a cool sort of eclectic record like How I Do was probably not a thought of the label’s efforts to break her outside of the urban format.”

Res cuts to the point.

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COMMENTS

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

“YEA GIRL....LET'S PUT THE BAND BACK TOGETHER!!! RES AND HOUSE OF VIBE BACK ON IT AGAIN !!”

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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 ...so 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 www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/jenkintown or call 215-481-0800”

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