Band: Ella Marie Salter
Date: Thursday, January 23 at 9 p.m.
Venue: Top of the Bay, 28971 Hwy. 98, 251-621-1177
Tickets: Call for more info
Soon Top of the Bay will resonate with the cool, local sounds of singer-songwriter Ella Marie Salter. While she may be a relatively new face on the scene, Salter’s stage presence and delivery of both familiar and original tunes reflects a passionate, experienced artist.
This local up-and-comer has created songs that pull from country, rock and blues to create a trademark sound accented by a voice filled with beautiful Southern-fried soul. Currently, Salter is performing in support of her debut album, “Beverly.” Dedicated to her late sister, this album is the musical embodiment of emotion and experience pulled from Salter’s life.
Salter’s musical journey began in her early years. Salter says she has sang for “as long as she could speak” and regularly composed songs in her head throughout her childhood. However, Salter admits she did not have the instrumental knowledge or outlets to bring them to life.
As she grew older, her love for music matched her love for writing. Throughout her teenage years, Salter says she constantly had a pen in her hand. Eventually, her literary endeavors evolved into musical endeavors.
“I wrote all the time and kept journals and that whole bit,” Salter said. “ I started writing poems in middle school. Then they kind of morphed into songwriting. I’m not sure when that happened, but it was the natural progression of things.”
At 15, Salter moved to Texas. At that time, her desire to transform the texts from her journals and poems overwhelmed her. She had to make these songs into a reality. This desire led her to pick up the guitar. She began teaching herself the basic skills to form the chords necessary to complete her songs. Since then, she has honed her skills on guitar while satisfying her need to take her songs from the journal to the stage.
“I still tell everybody that I’m far from the greatest guitar player out there, but I know enough to get me by,” Salter said. “I practice and I try to learn new stuff, but I’m far from some incredible guitar player.”
Throughout Salter’s evolution as an artist, her sister, Beverly, was there. With barely two years between their ages, Salter says she and her sister were inseparable. Salter says she and Beverly’s close relationship led them to have parallel life experiences. Even when their teenage years brought its typical drama, Salter says Beverly remained her “built-in bestie.”
“It was always me and Beverly,” Salter said. “We got through those bratty, teenage years and got to the other side of it and still remained best friends. That was our whole relationship. Where you saw one, you saw the other.”
At 19, Beverly joined the National Guard. Not long after her enlistment, Salter says Beverly developed thyroid cancer. As the years passed, her condition snowballed into stage 3 colon cancer and she was diagnosed with a rare genetic mutation called familial adenomatous polyposis. Not long after, Beverly lost her fight with cancer. Naturally, this devastation affected Salter’s musical endeavors.
“After she passed away, I didn’t write for a really long time,” Salter said. “It was a long time before I picked up a guitar and started writing again.”
Eventually, Salter decided it was time to get back to work and concentrate on releasing her music to the public. At first, she decided to ignore the line of poetry and prose she had collected in her journals over the years. Salter wanted to compose an album of brand-new material.
However, one song from her past kept coming to mind. Salter began writing “White Flag” a few months before Beverly passed. This song detailed an agreement between Salter and Beverly.
“When the time came and there’s nothing else that they could do, she was going to make a bucket list and knock off as many of those things that we could,” Salter explained.
“White Flag” served as the catalyst for the rest of the tracks on “Beverly.” Salter said her work on “White Flag” reenergized her creativity. However, she knew she would need help in compiling songs for a complete album.
First, Salter enlisted the help of Rebecca Neese. After gathering her journals and writings, she collaborated with Neese and began completing songs. Next, Salter entered Studio 78 with Adam Holt. She felt that Holt’s analog equipment would provide the best sonic persona for her original songs. Salter also admits she is a longtime fan of Holt’s music.
“I just knew that [Holt was] who I wanted to go with,” Salter said. “I reached out to him, and we made it work. I couldn’t ask for a better experience. He walked me through the whole thing and helped me through the entire process.”
Ultimately, Salter says “Beverly” is a proper representation of her sister’s memory. She adds the tracks of this album maintain the positivity Beverly embodied throughout her life. Salter says Beverly always got the “short-end of the stick.” Even so, Salter says Beverly faced each challenge with a strength rarely seen, even in the face of cancer.
“She didn’t complain,” Salter said. “She couldn’t stand for people to whine or take things for granted. I think this album reflects that. I think that it reflects her love and light and positive energy.”
Salter’s creative momentum has been steadily increasing since the release of “Beverly.” She plans on playing as many shows as possible in the future and touring as well. She hopes to travel to Texas, Mississippi and Michigan with this debut album in hand. Salter’s pen has also been busy writing new songs for future albums. With Beverly’s memory constantly in mind, Salter wants nothing more than a life dedicated to her art, and she is well on her way.
“I don’t care if I’m playing in junky, hole-in-the-wall bars for life,” Salter said. “I just want to play music.”
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