Energy. Strength. Power.

These words describe what the women in the Topeka music scene possess. In this issue of seveneightfive, we chose to highlight a handful of women who create a powerhouse in our beloved city. These are women from all different backgrounds and are various ages but manage to transcend any specific genre of music. They just plain rock. We caught up with these women to find out who and what has influenced them and helped shape the musicians they are today.

women who rock_renelle

Renelle Aytes

Drummer Renelle Aytes is with Chris Aytes and the Good Ambition. Aytes is a rocker to the core and one heck of a drummer at that.

Q: Who are some female role models in the music industry that have molded you into the musician you are today?
A: Hmm…well, don’t remind Chris [her husband and band mate] but when I was very young, I admired Paula Abdul, Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, The Bangles, Kylie Minogue, Martina McBride, Faith Hill and several others. In my adult life, I have really enjoyed the works of gals like Norah Jones, Diana Krall and Zooey Deschanel and of course, Joan Jett.

Q: When you are feeling down, what kind of music do you listen to?
A: Always depends on what I’m in the mood for right at THAT moment. But, in 2012, Jack White’s Blunderbuss album has been the go-to.

Q: What is your opinion of the Topeka music scene?
A: GREAT. I feel like it’s been a personal mission of mine to inform locals (and any naysayers, anywhere) who don’t yet know the magnitude of the musical excellence residing here in the capital city. It has been an amazing experience to be a part of the budding, or re-emerging, as I understand it, music scene here.

women who rock_ellie

Ellie Smith

Ellie Smith of the Ellie Smith and the Commotion is a vocalist and her sweet and sultry voice is one that commands her audience.

Q: Who has influenced you the most in your musical career?
A: My family has had the biggest musical influence on me. My dad’s the kind of guy that will pop in a tape and tell you a story for each song. He’ll tell you the kind of car he was driving the year it came out, and why he thought this album was so-and-so’s best album, and blah, blah, blah. Haha, I love it.

Q: Who are some female role models in the music industry that have molded you into the musician you are today?
A: My Mama listened to a lot of things that I never knew really knew made a difference to me, like Bonnie Raitt and Joni Mitchell. Those are some powerful, powerful women. A few years ago, I started getting into women like Aretha Franklin and Susan Tedeschi and Billie Holiday and the amount of soul they could carry in a single note just completely took me over and that was what I wanted to be. Oh, and I can’t forget about Trampled Under Foot! Mad respect to Nick, Chris, and Danielle for being generally awesome and respectful human beings. They have taught me better than anyone how to treat your fans like they’re your friends and to give back the love that you get. Thanks, guys!

Q: What is your all time favorite album to listen to?
A: When I was ten or eleven, my brother Paul burned me a CD that said, “Best of Louis Prima” on it. It’s still in pretty good shape. I mostly like to listen to it when I cook so I can dance around the kitchen. It definitely makes me smile more than any other CD.

Chelsey Robbins

Chelsey Robbins

Ellie loves her some Chelsey Robbins and so do we! Chelsey is a remarkable vocalist who serenades her audience with a soulful and gritty sound that is unmatched.

Q: What is your first memory of music and how did it make you feel?
A: Listening to the singers at church, I felt such a tremendous amount of love and emotion spilling from their beings. It was like feeling the presence of God. It filled me with joy.

Q: Who are some female role models in the music industry that have molded you into the musician you are today?
A: Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Carol King, Whitney Houston, and Mariah Carey (don’t laugh, those girls have got some pipes!), Ani Difranco and Jules Graves.

Q: Who is your favorite band and why?
A: That 1 Guy. He makes me feel happy! He played the best live show I have ever seen. Plus, he loves his fans enough to converse with them after shows.

Eva Kathryn

Eva Kathryn

Eva Kathryn, recording artist and singer/songweriter has been blessed with a great set of pipes.

Q: Who has influenced you the most in your musical career?
A: That’s easy: Jesus. He has given me a life to write about…that’s for sure!

Q: What is your first memory of music and how did it make you feel?
A: As a kid, banging…I mean playing…on a piano to other music at my parents’ house. I have a very supportive family! Maybe I still sound that way sometimes; ha…I love trying to recapture that fun and innocence of hearing yourself for the first time and not caring if it’s good. I guess the audience does, though…ha ha.
Q: What kind of music would you like to hear more of in Topeka?
A: Live music. Shows and gatherings…music heals so much and brings people together. It doesn’t matter where you are at in life or what is going
on or who doesn’t like whom…the atmosphere truly changes when you let music take over.

Rachel Louise

Rachel Louise

Up-and-coming country artist Rachel Louise is the youngest artist of our picks. All of fourteen years, she is causing quite the stir in the Topeka music scene.

Q: What is your first memory of music and how did it make you feel?
A: My first memory of music was when I was really little, my mom and I would listen to Shania Twain CDs all day, in the car and at home, and I can always remember singing along to every song, and that’s when I was always…happy – just being able to sing all the time.

Q: What is your opinion of the Topeka music scene?
A: I love the Topeka music scene! It has given me and other local artists opportunities to perform and get our music out there for everyone to listen, but it would be nice to have more local restaurants that have places for performers to play at.

Q: Who has influenced you the most in your musical career?
A: My dad and my mom have influenced me and supported me the most. They have taken the time to learn about the music business, in order to help me succeed.

[ Story + photography by Jessica Matheis | January 2013 ]

About The Author

Related Posts

One Response

  1. weekender | 2.28

    […] women to find out who and what has influenced them and helped shape the musicians they are today. Read the article at seveneightfive.com, then join us for the seveneightfive showcase to see them […]

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.