Fiery Grand Rapids Vocalist Serita Crowley: Artist Spotlight
To help kick off Black History Month, Local Spins today features veteran vocalist Serita Crowley of Serita’s Black Rose, a mainstay on stages across the region with compelling new original music in the works.
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With loud vocal passages over bluegrass acoustic guitar, songs like “Fiyia” will take listeners back to the 70s.
Serita’s Black Rose can’t help but create authentic, uplifting music with meaningful lyricism that gives everyone in the room a purpose.
“I just like making music that says something, that doesn’t focus on looks,” Grand Rapids singer Serita Crowley said.
“I want to be a positive role model for kids, but still make music that older generations want to hear. Music worth repeating, you know? »
Growing up in Ravenna, Crowley joined his church choir at just four years old. With her mother singing gospel and her father playing the blues alongside artists such as Muddy Waters and Jimmy Reed, Crowley was clearly born to sing.
From Grateful Dead cover bands to Prince tributes to the Bluewater Kings Band, Crowley has performed in a range of formats and experimented with a bit of everything.
She is not afraid to use her talents in other areas. His fiery chops have been used in voiceovers, commercials, and multiple musicals, including “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Hair.”
While Crowley – who also plays harmonica – is good at performing a wide range of covers dynamically, a new batch of original blues-centric material has long been in the works with a new recording on the horizon.
Crowley usually shares the stage with Jon Hayes, guitarist and Crowley’s partner of nearly 20 years, presenting Serita’s Black Rose as a duo. For larger venues, Serita’s Black Rose turns into a full band with bassist Robert Pace and drummer Mark Weymouth. Overall, Serita’s Black Rose plays about 80 shows a year, even during the recent pandemic.
Serita’s Black Rose opened for Grammy-nominated classic rock band Kansas last summer at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, several years after they had the chance to open for another legend on the same scene: Motown icon Smokey Robinson.
MAJOR BLUES PROJECTS ON THE HARMONIOUS HORIZON
As a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to musical genres – funk, soul, gospel, rock, folk – the music Serita’s Black Rose has released in the past has played out as a fusion of genres. From now on, Crowley is targeting a specific audience and concentrating on a single style: the blues.
“Blues music is a genre that we can focus on. It’s an accessible market in which we can do very well. I mean, the blues is the foundation of everything,” Crowley said.
Hayes added, “Often times a band is only as good as its lead singer, so why not do what we’re good at? Why not try to raise Serita in this genre?
Looking ahead, Crowley has no shortage of new music in store; Hayes said the duo had “a lot in the works with hundreds of song ideas”.
With much on hold due to the pandemic and other issues, Crowley said they’re waiting to release anything until it’s completely finished in a cohesive collection.
“We really refocused our energy on writing duo blues songs for this new project. I don’t even want to call this a new project because it’s been in the works for a few years,” Crowley said.
In the meantime, Serita’s Black Rose has dozens of local shows scheduled with tour dates extending through the end of October.
The duo plays Fetch Brewing Co. in Whitehall at 7 p.m. Saturday (February 5), with performances at Montague’s Book Corner and Java Shop February 11, Grand Haven’s Grand Armory Brewery February 12 and Walker’s Muskegon on Valentine’s Day, February 14. The next Grand Rapids show will be at GR Black February 25.
Suffice it to say, they have a lot of cooking – and as a former chef, Crowley often compares her singing to her culinary flair.
“I will add to a recipe the same way I would add to a song. I will spice up a dish like I spice up my music,” she noted.
It’s Crowley’s way of keeping his fans coming back for a few seconds.
VIDEO: Serita’s Black Rose in the Listening Room
Video by Robert Novak
PHOTO GALLERY: Serita’s Black Rose, Patty PerShayla in the Listening Room
Photos by Anthony Norkus