The Life And Times Of Res
Res had it pretty good, for a while.
A little more than a decade ago, when the music industry was still flush with cash and power, the Philadelphia-born singer-songwriter (whose given name is Shareese Ballard; her stage name is pronounced "Reese") had a sweet deal with MCA Records. She had a crash pad on a Los Angeles beach that was paid for by the label, which was jetting her around the globe to open for Mary J. Blige and hooking her up with some of the hottest producers in the land.
Most importantly, Res believed at the time, she was with a label that had her back, believed in her artistic vision, and was as excited to watch this early-twentysomething singer steadily blossom into a star as she was.
But in a sadly-too-common turn of events, her 2001 debut album, How I Do--which was mostly written by Res's childhood friend Santi White (a.k.a. Santigold), who was doing A&R for Epic at the time and helped Res get that MCA deal--didn't blow up like label overlords hoped. Promising singles like "Golden Boys" and "They-Say Vision" did okay at radio and VH1 but never really caught on, mostly because no one knew how to market Res. She was a black girl from Philly, but no R&B vixen or neo-soul diva. She incorporated rock and alt-pop textures, was drawn to skittering indie-tronica beats, had a glorious voice that was both sassy and earthy yet outside the norm.
Then, while she was making a follow-up album, MCA was absorbed into Geffen Records and Res was de-prioritized. By the mid-2000's she'd split from the label, which had shelved the sophomore disc but still hung onto the rights. Res still found a way to get the album--Black.Girls.Rock!, an even more eclectic offering than her debut--into the hands of people by giving the songs away for free online. But the web of support, financial and otherwise, and the relatively cushy lifestyle she'd enjoyed were no more.
Res considered quitting music for good. So many of her peers who'd gone through similar label fuckery had done just that. Instead, still believing in her talent and cognizant of the fact that singing and performing made her happier than just about anything in this world, she retreated back to Philly and hammered out a plan to resurrect her career as an entirely indie/DIY artist, managing her own affairs, booking gigs, making music on her own dime. Now in her early 30's, and after a move to Brooklyn late last year, Res is poised for that second act that F. Scott Fitzgerald insisted doesn't exist, via both her solo career and Idle Warship--her well-received, genre-busting collab with rapper/producer Talib Kweli.
Res is moving on from that difficult chapter of her life, but not before sharing the story of her rise, fall, and rebirth in the forthcoming The Res Documentary, helmed by filmmaker Steve Zegans. In it, she pulls no punches in detailing the various ways the industry screwed her over and knocked her down, but she also admits to her own culpability in the situation by going along with certain decisions despite personal reservations. Tonight, she'll get into all of that at Drom during an intimate event called Res: An Industry Diary, where she'll discuss the ups-and-downs of her career, perform songs old-and-new (while accompanied by a guitarist), and screen segments and outtakes from the documentary (Zegans is still in the process of securing a distribution deal for the film).