SYS WOMEN IN FOCUS: Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics

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We excited to bring the very first series of SYS Women In Focus, where we celebrate and explore women in the music industry. Our first artist hails from Atlanta, critically-acclaimed Atlanta-based soul ensemble, Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics, heirs to a new generation of soul drop their video "Broken Woman," from their new album, The State of All Things.

It has attracted tastemakers including, The Bluegrass Situation, Paste, The Bitter Southerner, and more, with its inviting and accessible bravado. Ruby reveals her influences of strong, powerful and resilient women. Some of these women are poets, visionaries, some musicians but all practice similar values and mindfulness while walking their journeys.

First is the Goddess Maya Angelou. Maya overcame unspeakably hard situations with a steadfast belief in herself and her self worth. Her examples shared through the written word inspired me at a young age to write my own poetry, which eventually (after some very embarrassing failed attempts that I’ve kept) I turned a few into songs.

I have to say if you ever think your life is horrible or you can’t go on, read about Maya and her ability to seek forgiveness, compassion and knowledge of self as a result of the horrible circumstances of her past. She taught me to be proud of my scars and my victories.

Joni Mitchell and her music filled me with such hope from a young age. I was inspired to hear such a song bird tackling the guitar and jazz progressions and making it look like child's play. As I grew older I started to really understand her lyrics beyond the sound of them, there was so much meaning and emotion!  Joni was probably the first female voice I ever heard and has shaped me as a songwriter and progressive thinker. I walked down the aisle to her poignant track “Down to You” and to this day her album “Court & Spark” gives me chills. Im so happy to see her home town of Saskatoon finally honor her roots this past year.

Fiona Apple has bent the rules and intrigued me since singles were out on cassette tapes in the nineties. She is bold and brave, her writing is prolific and haunting, and her delivery is unique and truly ethereal. I fell in love with the single “Criminal” when I was in jr. high, and then later felt that every word of heartache was etched for me on “When the Pawn.” She’s broken down so many barriers with her music, it’s a joy to hear every new creation she makes.

Tina Turner is strength. Everything about her rocks my world, from her spiritual knowledge gained through an in-depth buddhist practice, to her overcoming all odds to gain success, wealth and pure happiness. She upheld the genre when many people had moved on to more lucrative options. She sacrificed for her artistry and others time and time again, learning lessons at every turn. When I was a teen my uncle handed me her biography and I was enamored with her story. The pain and exuberance she delivers through her writing and voice is other wordly. I’m very happy to see that she has retired in France and is living a dream life, as she deserves!

Ani Difranco is last but certainly not least. My favorite memories of being engrossed in Ani’s music is when I took the album “Evolve” to India on my generic mp3 player of the times. I listened to every single word and progression, floating on the tracks of different trains throughout the majestic countryside. It was a fertile place for me to write what would become some of our earliest tracks, and lay the foundation of me being a writer focused on change. Ani has always fought the food fight and is an INCREDIBLE musician and lyricist as well. We are so lucky to have her example of true DIY music with a cause, and even more so now that she’s opened music venues to support like minded indie musicians like me! I was able to play at Babeville in Buffalo on our last tour and was fangirling a bit too hard. I’m just grateful for her example of how to be a strong, independent, resilient and efficient righteous babe!

Lastly, my manager, Kristin Juel, is a daily inspiration and a woman that I regard as the most supportive of my journey. Kristin left a very nice job in the healthcare marketing sector to start her own artist dev and mgmt firm for musicians. This is no small feat, and this year we celebrated a monumental performance she brought in, at the Smithsonian Museum. She is hard working but also a smart worker, and has taught me endless amounts about thriving in this industry, being responsible for the business as it’s own creation, and walking with grace. I am very inspired by her can-do attitude, so we’ve been blazing trails together and it’s brought me great joy to see we are getting better everyday in our work together.