Alabama Music Office.com goes to Shoal Creek near Florence, Alabama to attend the Dick Cooper Party on April 28, 2013. It was a beautiful day by the time the party started. Dick is super lucky as far as weather at his parties is concerned.
Kendra Sutton-Mother, Pianist, Singer, Songwriter, Composer and Arranger
I needed a quiet place to interview Kendra. We went to the Hoover Library which we found was not as quiet as one might think. I first met Kendra, several years ago, when Moonlight Music Cafe was in Vestavia Hills.
(Just before our interview, we talked with Wayne Perkins by telephone. He consented to be interviewed by me in the near future. I want that to be on public record with Kendra as my witness. I have always wanted to interview Wayne. Another on my interviewers bucket list is Billy Sherrill.) Kendra met Wayne through Steve Lowery. On their first conversation, which was via telephone, she and Wayne wrote "Vinyl" a song about vinyl records. She tells me, "He (Wayne) has been like a big brother, a mentor to me. He has taught me a lot about music. He has taught me a lot about people. He's taught me about cord structure, progression and tempo changing. Probably the biggest things with him, is tempo changes." She continues, "The best thing about Wayne is he taught me that it's as important to know when not to play as it is to know when to play. I am very blessed to have great friends who are knowledgeable and just good people."
Kendra Sutton is from Birmingham, Alabama. She went to Shades Valley High School. She started playing piano when she was about four years old. At elementary school age she was enrolled in Birmingham Southern Conservatory of Music where she took higher-level classes. She started songwriting at about the age of eleven. That is when she started writing classical compositions.
She started gigging as a solo act. She recorded a solo piano/vocal album "Soft Landing" during that period. Then came Kendra Sutton and the Bad Luck Boys. The Bad Luck Boys was Jubal Dalzell (cello, guitar, mandolin, vocals), Brandon Cates (bass guitar, vocals) and Mark Beasley (drums, percussion). They recorded a CD at Sun Studio in Memphis, amply named "The Sun Sessions." They were an area favorite that gigged in virtually every venue in and around Birmingham. Plus opening for acts such as Rascal Flatts and Kelly Pickler.
There were other bands along the way, but her focus these days is on The Hollows. The Hollows is Kendra, Eric Ominus (bass), Sue Nuchols (fiddle) and Sarah Green (guitar). This band requires that she sing harmony, which she has never done because she has always sung lead vocals. She and Sarah share the lead vocals in The Hollows. She says the band is "unique" in that they play originals and rare covers.
In 2009 Kendra dropped out of the music scene when her eight-year-old daughter, Victoria, was diagnosed with AML - acute myelogenous leukemia. That type of cancer is very rare and very aggressive. Normally AML does not attack children. It is more common with people in their eighties. Kendra said, "It was a fight for her life. It's been very challenging and still till today, we have to handle things differently than we did prior to that, because of her immune system. She is currently off therapy and doing great. She is doing Great!"
Kendra is just now getting back to where she feels comfortable throwing herself back into music again. She put her music career on hold to take care of her daughter. She says Victoria is still her number one priority.
She recently got to be on stage with one of her idols, Randall Bramblett. She was one of the acts playing for Mark Mizells birthday party at Marty's. Bramblett was on the same bill and she had to perform following him. She says, "I though I was going to have a heart attack having to follow him. He was so awesome. He's amazing."
I asked, what do most people not know about Kendra Sutton? She answered, "The best song that I have ever written is going to be my next one. Just trying to write some good stuff. Trying to write some new stuff. Challenging myself and trying to evolve everyday to be a better person, better musician and better songwriter." (Kendra is also an accomplished photographer.)
When asked, where does she see herself in the future? She replied, "I really, really want to get more of my stuff published. I would really love for other people to sing my songs. That is really where my heart is at, in the writing. I see myself doing more gigs with my new band, The Hollows. A show we recently did at Moonlight On The Mountain, which is a very wonderful listening room with incredible sound, I didn't have one but three people come up to me and say that my songs made them cry. All of them had tears in their eyes. That made me feel good, so I guess I want to see more people cry (laughter). In a good way, not in a bad way. I think that is the meaning of soul, it's not the way you sound but the way you feel. You feel soul, you don't hear it."