India


written by Dana Jaffe, portraits by Beau Gustafson

India Ramey

Just two years ago, India Ramey was an attorney, running around from case to case and keeping up with court docket deadlines. When the economy took a downturn in 2009 and Ramey was laid off, the 36-year-old singer/songwriter took it as a sign to finally pursue her childhood dreams and become a full-time musician

These days the folders full of legal papers on her desk have been replaced with bins full of press-kits, and her schedule is no longer ruled by court calendars but by the endless promotion of her debut album “Junkyard Angel” that was released in November 2010.

With an ultimate goal of getting signed to a well-established indie label and headlining a national tour, much of her time is spent contacting producers and concert promoters. And when she’s not doing that, she is busy practicing guitar and trying to book local gigs.

“Releasing this album has been the biggest accomplishment of my life. I work more hours and more days trying to build my music business than I did when I was lawyer, which is hard to believe, but i love every minute of it, and I know what I am doing now is what I was always supposed to do,” Ramey says.

Ramey comes from a family of musicians. Her grandfather was a member of a popular bluegrass, gospel quartet on Sand Mountain in North Alabama and her aunt, nicknamed “Tiny Turner,” was lead singer of a doo–wop group in Chicago. Her uncle, her mother and her two sisters are also musical.

Singing was second nature to her and many of her childhood memories are linked to music.

“I’ve been singing since I could talk. Whenever we would meet for holidays or family get-togethers, we would all sit around and sing—our talent, enjoyment and appreciation for music was something our whole family had in common, the glue that held us together,” Ramey said.

Though Ramey first caught the rockstar bug at just eight-years old when her mom bought her Pat Benatar’s “Crime of Passion,” it wasn’t until her college years at Birmingham Southern College that she finally decided to write her own music. From there on out, and into her years at law school in University of Alabama, she wrote a little here and there along the way, and built a file folder full of songs and song ideas.

In 2004, she found out her friend’s folk cover band, Scattered and Smothered, was looking to add a female singer. A full-time civil litigator at the time, she jumped at the opportunity to make music have a more regular presence in her life, even if just in the form of a nights and weekend hobby.

In 2009 she followed her dreams

“This experience is what gave me the confidence as a musician to contemplate doing something on my own. The onstage exposure and the positive reactions I got from audiences whenever i performed, made me realize maybe I could do something like this and encouraged me to start honing the songwriting talent I had begun developing in college,” Ramey said.

Mid-way through her decade-long career as a lawyer, she felt tied to sticking with law as she knew it was a practical career choice and secure way of living. Still her devotion to music continued to make its way to the forefront and by 2006 she started to get serious about the idea of going solo. Any spare time outside of her 8 to 5 job was spent practicing guitar and writing songs.

In 2008, she had already written a full album and begun the pre-production work, so when she was laid off in 2009, she saw it as a chance to finally put her all into a music career. With way more time to dedicate to her music, she was able to finish recording the album and release it in late 2010.

Her debut album Junkyard Angel which was co-arranged and produced by local musician William Barnes, is country with heavy folk, bluegrass and blues overtones. With strong booming, wide range vocals that lean toward the pop-country side and dark lyrics filled with irony and sarcasm that have an alt-country vibe, comes a unique blend of music that sets her apart from others in the genre.

All of Ramey’s musical influences have family ties. She strives to mimic the songwriting and storytelling skills of her father’s favorite, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, the emotional angst and driving beats of her sister’s teenage idols, The Ramones, and the mastery of melody she learned from her mom’s continued spinning of Fleetwood Mac records. To that mix, she brings her personal all time favorite artist Neko Case aboard for vocal inspiration.

An underlying theme of the album deals with the struggles of battered women. Ramey’s drive to speak up on behalf of victims began in her law career when she was a prosecutor for violence against women, and continues with this album.

The songwriting on this album weaves together upbeat songs with songs of heartbreak and takes listeners on a journey through tough times and hits a point that announces times do get better.

“I was able to take something that is so personal to me and talk about it in such a way that anybody, even if they haven’t had the same experience as me, can find a way to identify with and relate to the lyrics through their own experiences,” Ramey says.

“I’ve poured my heart into this album. I address my father in a lot of the songs, speaking to and out against him about what my mother had to endure. When you’ve been through something as traumatic as being a child that has watched one of your parents been treated like that, any opportunity to be able to give your two cents, and share your thoughts and feelings on the situation is redemptive and cathartic.”

Ramey’s drive to speak up on behalf of victims began in her law career when she was a prosecutor for violence against women, and continues with this album.

Highlights on the 12-song album include the title track “Junkyard Angel.” which Ramey describes as having a beautiful musical arrangement that sets the tone for the album, “What I’d Do For You,” a song she wrote in her college days about the emotions of dealing with young, unrequited love, “Red Headed Girl,” a tribute song to her grandfather about how he and Ramey’s grandmother met and fell in love, and her favorite song to perform live, “One More Shot,” a classic, fun honky tonk song that always gets the audience up and moving.

Making ends meet as a singer/songwriter is quite different than living off the income she was used to in the legal world. Ramey has taken on a part-time job and she and her supportive husband, who is also a lawyer, have had to do away with enjoying the occasional nice dinner or vacation and put every extra dime away to help further her musical career that they both believe in so much. But there are no regrets.

“Music is one of the most pervasive things in my life. My grandfather always emphasized the importance of keeping music in your life and cultivating whatever musical talent we had, and with this album I’ve done that,” Ramey says. “Singing is the way I want to spend the rest of my life and this album is just the beginning of the best chapter of my life.”

6 Responses to “India”

  1. IR says:

    India Ramey will be performing at Metro Bistro on 2nd Ave. North tonight April1 at 10 PM. Don’t miss it!

  2. Steve says:

    India rules. Period. End of story.

  3. Caro Ramey says:

    I am very proud of my talented daughter-in-law India and my supportive son Shaun. All who have heard her first album agree that she definitely has what it takes to succeed in the music industry. She has a magnetic stage presence and writes meaningful words, especially for woman.

  4. Caro Ramey says:

    I am very proud of my talented daughter-in-law India and my supportive son Shaun. All who have heard her first album agree that she definitely has what it takes to succeed in the music industry. She has a magnetic stage presence and writes meaningful words, especially for women.

    Reply

  5. Tanyia says:

    This girl rocks!

  6. Laurel Parrish says:

    Gorgeous girl with gorgeous talent!

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