Welcome to those of you who’ve previously enjoyed one of Rhonda’s performances, and to those of you having “The Rhonda Experience” for the first time! While it’s impossible to tell you everything about her in a few paragraphs, we want to give you some background on Rhonda and her unique style.
Rhonda was born in San Francisco into a family with several members that had musical ability, but it was Rhonda’s grandmother (“Grandma”) and her piano playing, who captivated her. Rhonda began playing piano when Grandma gave her a big black upright piano on her 12th birthday. Her mother had the idea to study a book on playing piano and to learn the instrument so she could teach her daughter to play, but Rhonda was way ahead of her. She was a quick learner with a natural talent for piano and taught herself by watching her grandmother play during her occasional visits. Grandma had three piano lessons as a young girl, could read music and knew 13 songs by heart, but that was enough for Rhonda to learn from and she was off and running. She studied Grandma’s style, asked how she did certain things and took it from there. Her grandmother played in a style known as “stride” piano which Rhonda soon picked up, learning to use her left hand and to play the full keyboard. She picked up her grandmother’s style of playing because that was her only musical influence, and soon people couldn’t tell them apart.
The same year Grandma gave Rhonda the piano, she took her to see Liberace perform at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium. The experience opened her eyes to another way of playing the piano besides what she had learned from her grandmother and Rhonda was inspired to learn more. She began to listen to and watch a variety of pianists and with her God-given talent her style evolved into something of her own.
Rhonda has played professionally for eighteen years. Her style has been influenced by many musicians and while her sound may remind you of someone, she plays in a totally unique way. But hearing Rhonda is only half the “Experience” - seeing her is another thing altogether. When you can’t see her play you miss her full use of the keyboard, and the way she keeps rhythm and kicks with her feet. Some people that see Rhonda perform regularly arrive at her engagements early to get a seat in front so they can watch the movement of her feet (and if you listen you’ll be able to hear her stomping during these performances). She plays with an energy level that leaves her audience shaking their heads in amazement, but a woman enjoying a recent performance may have said it best, “She doesn’t just play the piano, she throws it around!”
For years her audiences have asked Rhonda when she would have a recording available for sale. She decided it was time to answer those requests and has chosen 24 songs recorded at two different performances in the Spring of 2005 for this release. We hope you enjoy these songs as much as Rhonda is proud to bring them to you!