When Chocolate Thunder roars onto the stage, she’s fully charged … a sweet explosion of heart and soul and raw vocal energy that will leave you reeling from the sheer power of this extraordinary performer.
A mix of Tina Turner, Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin all rolled into one, Chocolate Thunder puts it out there like she invented it. She doesn’t hold back. She’s got something to say and she belts it out for all the world to hear. There’s nothing shy about this baby.
She has performed with names like Eddy Kirkland, Big Bill Morganfield, Sunny Rhodes, Little Pink Anderson, Cootie Starks, Elmore James Jr., and opened for B.B. King, and many others.
Born Linda Rodney, she grew up in the small hamlet of Simpsonville, S.C. not far from Greenville. “The greatest influences in my life,” she says, “and I’m not sure in which order, are my grandmother, Aretha Franklin and my aunt.”
As a child, she sang gospel music in church with her beloved family – her Grandma Verneller, her Grandpa Walter, her mother and aunts. Listening to the radio, she became enthralled with the sounds of Patti LaBelle, Etta James and other musical icons and just started singing along.
A natural alto vocalist, Rodney sings instinctively. She worked briefly with opera singer Sarah Reese, who taught her how to sing without damaging her voice (once you hear Chocolate Thunder’s nonstop, high-energy, delicious delivery, you understand instantly the significance of Reese’s coaching).
By 1999 she was singing professionally. It seemed that every performance opened a door for her. After playing a S.C. festival, she was quickly booked at blues festivals in California and Oregon. When the legendary Eddie Kirkland heard Chocolate Thunder’s explosive set at Occasionally Blues in Greenville, he put in a good word for her, and soon she was playing Maxwell’s Café in Paris – a two-week gig that was held over for seven. During a low country show in Palm Key, S.C., a Canadian mesmerized by her performance of Tony Joe White’s “Rainy Night In Georgia,” made a phone call, and suddenly Chocolate Thunder and her band were booked at the 2009 Montreal Jazz Fest.
Since then she has been touring Canada and working on her third solo CD with producer Mike Goudreau. Her two previous recordings are Barking Up the Wrong Tree (2002) and Ear Candy (2009). Both albums showcase her songwriting talent along with her monumental vocal talents. It’s raining accolades from all over the world!
Chocolate Thunders delectable, self-released Ear Candy presents an earthier take on soul-blues. Singer Linda Rodney gives a nuanced performance, here tough and assertive, there honey-sweet; her songs encompass serious funk (“555-HELP”) and lilting soul (“Other Side of Memphis”), with deep club grooves, slow jams, ballads (the splendid “Ever New”), and pure blues (“My Georgia Pine”).
Blues Revue magazine(Dec/Jan 2010)
….Your amazing CD causes us to give you Songwriter of the Year (2009), Best R&B/Soul Song of the Year –“It’s All Good.” … it was hard to pick as you had at least six tunes that were just wonderful !!), Artist of the Year/Female and Best Female Vocalist/All Genres ... You should be headlining festivals worldwide …
Andy Grigg, Real Blues magazine
… gospel legend Shirley Caesar and soul diva Patti LaBelle to Muddy Waters and Aretha Franklin … all those influences can be heard on this CD, a richly diverse – though always southern-rooted – album with plenty of excellent modern blues numbers and backed by a bunch of red-hot musicians …
----- Norman Darwen for Blues Art (2009)