SIBLEY—A return to her N’West Iowa roots gives Nashville-based singer and song writer Rochelle Riser a chance to showcase her work that pays tribute to the source of inspiration for many of her songs.
The 30-year-old Sibley native will perform a concert at Drink Me Brewing Company in Sibley at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18.
Admission for the show is a donation, with half the proceeds going to ATLAS of Osceola County.
“I’m really excited to play these songs kind of inspired by my growing-up years in Sibley, because I’ve been playing them in Nashville for the last year,” Riser said.
Family members still in the area motivate a trip back to Iowa at least once a year. Riser worked to coordinate a performance with her travels west for Thanksgiving but also considered possible community events.
“I had the school calendar in mind, because there was a time when I was invited to play a show at a place in Kentucky, and unbeknownst to me, there was their homecoming football game that night,” Riser said.
“I’ve been singing pretty much ever since I can remember,” Riser said. “My friends maybe said I was a good singer, and I would sing in church growing up. In high school I was in all-state choir for two years, and that gave me outside validation that said, ‘Wow, maybe you’re actually good at this.’ And even when I was in high school, I always loved writing. It was kind of like those two things that I loved just sort of fused together.”
After graduating from Sibley-Ocheyedan High School in Sibley in 2010, she made the move to Nashville to attend Belmont University and study music education but soon found out that would not be her career path.
“It was very intimidating being in Nashville, so I spent some time taking it all in and building up my craft,” Riser said. “Getting better at singing, getting better at song writing, getting a lot better at guitar playing; all that took some time to build, but now it feels very good to have put in that time and the experience and to know that I’m on this level now.”
That exploration gave her time to find her own voice in a popular city known for its music.
“I’ve kind of been circling around it, and now I’ve really solidified my style and what I write about, especially in the music that I release myself,” Riser said. “I didn’t necessarily think of myself in the genre of country music very much. I would say I was more of a folk singer or maybe Americana. But because of just my life experience, if I say I’m the firstborn daughter of a fifth-generation farmer, that’s a country song in itself.
“I’ve been helping people write country music, too, just because I have that life experience. That’s been really fun to get to insert little parts of my own experience into the way that someone else tells stories. When I’m collaborating, then I can use those other parts of my creativity that I don’t necessarily think belong in my own projects.”
“I have a new song that I’m going to be releasing on December 9,” Riser said. “It’s not necessarily a Christmas song, but it’s a winter song called ‘Winter Was.’ I wrote the song maybe three years ago, and when I went on tour in 2019, anytime I played this song, if there was someone under the age of 25, they would come up to me after my show and say this was their favorite song of the set.”
She describes the song’s theme as a teenager experiencing a first love or first crush in a really cold place and being torn between the physical comfort of going inside or staying outside to enjoy the moment with their love interest.
Life events adjusted her musical career path. The coronavirus shutdowns of 2020 and planning her 2021 wedding shifted her focus from touring and performing to composition.
“During the pandemic, I’ve been writing a lot of new music myself, and with other people for their albums, which has been really fun for me,” Riser said. “I get to help the other writer develop their idea, and they get to take it from there. You get to build the creation and then you get to let someone else do all the hard work.”
Riser normally plays a few shows in Nashville each month but hopes to perform more in the future.
Riser draws her inspiration from people and places and is preparing to record her first longer project as an artist after creating singles and a four-song extended play.
One unexpected audience for her vocal skills came through a collaboration with the Belgian band Puggy and the release of the movie “Bigfoot Family” in 2020.
“It was sort of a happenstance,” she said. “Sometimes, I’ll get hired to sing vocals for other people. I didn’t know it was going to be in a movie. They asked me if I wanted to be credited for my vocals and I said, ‘Sure.’”
She did not give it much more thought until she received an e-mail saying she had a hundred Shazams in Singapore from the entertainment search app after the movie’s release.
The film was added to Netflix in February 2021 and has over 1 million streams across platforms.
“That’s been exciting for me for sure,” she said.
But the international exposure still does not compare to the comforts of home for the former Rochelle Feldkamp, whose parents are Paul and Lisa Feldkamp of Sioux Falls, SD.
“I just really look forward to playing the songs I have written and showing the people where I grew up the songs that I’ve been writing about it,” Riser said.
AT A GLANCE:
What: A Hometown Show
Who: Rochelle Riser
When: 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18
Where: Drink Me Brewing Company, 210 Ninth St., Sibley
Admission: Donation, with half the proceeds going to ATLAS of Osceola County