By Nikki Hedrick
April’s Beachcomber Music Awards was dotted with a lot of familiar faces, but one particular voice seemed to catch everyone’s attention. Cat Rhodes performed as a guest of Ed Mo and Gwen Lanier of Simply D’Vyne, and Rhodes credits the couple with introducing her to the Destin area.
“They were very inspirational in getting us in that area,” says Rhodes. “I love it down there. It’s just beautiful. The people are beautiful, and being able to branch out and get other people to appreciate your music and what you do, it’s amazing.”
Rhodes took to music early in life, with both her mother and grandmother being active gospel singers. “I transitioned from singing with my mom’s group, and my mom wanted me to take it a little further than she did,” she says. “So, you know I just kinda started branching out and learned that I could write and then got into modeling and acting, and all of it just kinda came in. And I’ve been doing it ever since I could talk probably.
“My first professional singing gig? Wow, I guess I was like maybe 17. It was a local group in Mobile called Silk. I was very young, wasn’t really sure, you know, straight out of the church. It worked, and it was really something I wanted to do.”
Five years ago, Rhodes’ career shifted to the blues. She calls it “an easy transition because of the way I felt inside.” Cat Rhodes & The Truth released a well-received album, Knee Deep in the Blues, and the band has twice represented the region in the annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee.
“Five years ago was the first time I ever had my own band, and The Truth was created by Bryan Morris,” says Rhodes. “If it wasn’t for him, I would never have been in the blues industry at all. He was the one that said, ‘Cat, why don’t you try to sing some blues? I think you’d be perfect, you got a perfect voice for that.’
“I started listening to people like Koko Taylor, Denise LaSalle, and, of course, I’ve always loved Tina Turner because of her power.
“Without music, I’m nobody. It is definitely like air for me,” says Rhodes. “It gives me an inner peace, and it’s kinda unexplainable what happens when I’m singing. But it’s a beautiful thing between my Creator and me—we’re just having a good time when I’m singing. So that’s the best way I can describe it, it’s like a heavenly thing for me.”
Although Rhodes has found inspiration in the blues, she doesn’t limit herself to one genre. “As long as it’s great music and it moves me, you know I can be anything.” Rhodes and her band are working towards a fall release for their new blues album, and she’s also collaborating on bandmate Morris’ upcoming jazz LP.
During our interview, Rhodes takes a pause to re-emphasize the importance of Morris in the creation of her band The Truth and her musical journey. “He started this band for me, found the players for me. You know, got me out here in the community traveling around with him and the incredible Kenny Neal, whose Grammy-nominated nine times and won three blues music awards this year.
“He and God and my parents are my strongest inspiration, and so I’m just trying to continue to do great music and meet great people like you that appreciate it.
“If I can make someone smile, you know that lights my heart up,” she adds. “I do it to elevate happiness and bring awareness to love and, you know, try using in a positive way. It’s my platform to show love and to promote love. I try to do it through my music and everything I do.” Anyone who has seen Rhodes perform would heartily agree.
In addition to music, Rhodes is gearing up for a new season of her entertainment talk show Cat Traxx, which airs on Pensacola’s BlabTV.
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