CC Ryder is a Singer/Songwriter currently based in southern New York State. It’s difficult to pinpoint a traditional genre name for C’s original music. While she carries influence from the myriad performers that have permeated her ears through the years, C’s writing can really only be described in one word: honest.
As a singer/songwriter, Ryder never shies away baring her soul in the form of rhythm and melody. She does not write Blues songs. She does not write Folk songs. She does not write Alternative songs. She does not write Country songs. She does not write Rock songs. She simply writes CC Ryder songs.
Much in the vein of the great writers of the past like John Fogerty or Tom Petty, Ryder has evolved her own unique sound that is both easy to identify and hard to describe.
“When people talk to me, they always have different reasons for coming out to shows,” said Ryder. “People feel happy when they leave my show, and that’s all. That’s what matters to me. I’m doing it (playing) because I love it. I don’t totally know why I love it so much, haha! I didn’t start out doing this because I wanted to make people happy. I didn’t set out knowing that doing this would make people happy. But, now it’s become the gas that feeds the fire. I feel like I have to be out there, because I want to make people happy. It feels like not just my preference, but sometimes feels like my duty.”
Ryder’s modesty is as large as her talent. The talented singer has shows booked nearly a year in advance and has become a fixture around both the Northern and Southern Tier. In addition to local haunts, bars, festivals and private events, Ryder has found herself on stage at Woodstock for the last three years, and is honored to be playing for the 50th anniversary next year.
“I think I’ve always just naturally liked music,” said Ryder. “No one I knew really did music, but my stepdad used to come home and listen to the stereo, but on his headphones. He’d listen to it so loudly that I could hear it from his headphones. So, that’s where I get a lot of the music I wasn’t normally allowed to listen to. Mostly, in my room, I had a ‘kids’ style record player that had a projector that would show images on the wall. Then, I got my hands on a few tapes like New Kids on the Block, a few Madonna tapes, bands like The Jets, I had Culture Club records too, loved that. But, the music my stepdad and mom would play would be Ernie Ford, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and some others. Oh, also, the Judds. I found them myself, maybe from TV or something.”
Even though C’s musical taste has grown to a broad variety, her younger days were rooted in 80s pop music and classic Country; two styles that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from this sometimes called “Alternative Folk Rock” artist. Anyone who has seen CC Ryder live knows that beyond her compelling original music, she also plays a variety of interesting and unique cover songs. Though her personal favorites include some seriously heavy metal, C plays acoustic hits from the last seven decades. Among some of her most noticeable and most requested songs are classics from artists like Buffalo Springfield, Ernie Ford and the legendary Janis Joplin.
“I didn’t know about Janis until maybe high school,” said Ryder. “I got into her music then. I also really loved Korn, haha. Korn became one of my favorite bands in high school when I went to Lollapalooza and saw them. I don’t think I’d even heard that kind of metal until then. My dad showed me Metallica, and that blew my brain. And I had finally gotten to hear Megadeth. When I was in Germany growing up, all I had were these little baseball cards of Metal artists. I was always intrigued by the guy from Megadeth with the red hair (Singer/Guitarist Dave Mustaine), and then I heard his voice for the first time, I couldn’t believe what was going on in my head. My head was blown again! Then I was snooping through my dad’s CDs and found The Black Crowes, and then I heard this kind of jazzy singing. It sounded very jazzy to me, the way he sang. Later, I got into old school singers like Etta James, Ben E. King, The Commodores and more. I didn’t really know the artists’ names til then, but I had always known these songs. I also have favorites like Mary J. Blige, Foxy Brown, and Da Brat. Da Brat. First time I heard her music I about dropped! A woman is doing that stuff?”
Ryder’s passion for music is palpable. From the time she was a small child to the current day, C has always carried a natural interest and instinct for music. Even if it’s just a brief snippet of something on the radio, or attending a fellow local troubadour’s show, Ryder lights up at first listen.
“I do love music, but I’m different about it,” said Ryder. “You’ve got people who love music and they can recall names and song titles, all sorts of random personal data; I get attached to the emotion I feel hearing certain songs. That’s like, hearing the power in it. I know Da Brat is rap. Some people will say ‘oh, that’s just Rap.’ But, to me there is a lot of power in her. And the way that she was talking? She was talking like some ‘dude’ stuff, and she’s a woman doing it and not even a little afraid about it. That was amazing to me, and that’s the kind of stuff I like.”
CC Ryder’s family is from Waterloo, NY, but she describes herself as a “military brat.” In her early life, C and her family moved around often. She spent her youth in places like Colorado, Kentucky, Alabama as well as different areas in Germany.
“I was young when I started singing,” said Ryder. “I used to sing ‘John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,’ it was the only song I knew. There’s even video of me singing that! I was always singing theme songs and jingles from commercials, things like that. I’m pretty sure, when I played the teapot in ‘The Cow Jumped Over the Moon’ was my first ever performance. That was in preschool”
Not content to just sing, Ryder wanted more. She wanted to learn more about music and that meant picking up an instrument. The acoustic six string seemed the logical choice.
“I’ve always wanted to play guitar,” said Ryder. “I wanted to learn any kind of instrument, really. I had some issues that kept me from doing that until a few years ago. So, Christmas time four years ago, I finally was able to start playing and had my first gig a few months later. So, once I restarted, and haven’t stopped, except to regroup of course…”
For many Singer/Songwriters whose music carries a strong message, songwriting can become stifled or homogenized to sacrifice pure artistry to push a message. Though C’s music is powerful and poignant in its message, her true artistic spirit keeps her ever more eclectic songwriting honest, beautiful, and pure in a way that’s seemingly lost in the modern day. To CC, the music is first. The message comes from the music, not the other way around. Though certain songs may decry a personal or political belief, there is no agenda to CC Ryder other than bringing her music to anyone who’d like to listen.
“We believe people should be healthy,” said Ryder. “People make that a political issue, but it isn’t a political issue. It’s just the nature of things, and how humanity exists in it’s natural state, rather than the deformed and disconnected state that it seems to be in at times. We’ve allowed connected thought to become political thought. That’s why sometimes people, I think, consider me political. I’m not political. I do pay attention to politics, and I do have my own opinion, but I’m not political. Is this wrong or is this right; really that’s what it all boils down to.”
For Ryder, it’s not about politics. It’s about Peace. It’s about Passion. It’s about People.
In the words of CC: Power, Truth and Love,
– J.M. Marsh, former Music Critic for Centre Daily Times, State College, PA.
“…Peaceful Warrior is about fighting??? No… Fighting, is just a skill set. Sometimes, a Peaceful Warrior is just someone who puts their heart into baking and you can feel it, a smile in your heart in every bite… Warriors come in many forms…”