Rodney Stith Interview with Craig Martin

Feb 9, 2022 | Features, Photo Essay

Craig Martin – Co-Host The Good Road
We haven’t known each other long but everything about you inspires me. Tell me about the passion you have for your music and your community, why am I so inspired?

Rodney “the Soul Singer” Stith
I guess you can see something in me that I’m (stutters) showing to everyone.  What that is is, in order for you to produce something you have to love it first. You gotta love it because in order to sell something to sell something to anybody you’ve got to make them a believer. Know what I’m saying? (Craig – double entendre, “believer”) If they see you and are like, “wow this guy, whoa to be able to bring it out!”  You might not get everybody, which is fine. But, if I can get one or two to come up and say, “hey man that song you did, really meant something to me.” That really means a lot to me. It really do, especially if you (stutters) went through a road I’ve been through.

Craig Martin
For me, personally, hearing you and watching you sing. You just give me happiness (Rodney – Wow!). The energy is happy. You come out of….well, I’m not going to define you, what’s your background?”

Rodney Stith
First I wanna say I’m from Petersburg, Virginia. A lot of people wanna say I’m from here, Richmond, which is fine because they can identify the city. But, I was born and raised and my mom (stutters) and dad, they from the country. When you got that tied in, them two, this is what you get…plus my two (stutters) other siblings. I’m the baby boy. (Craig – I’m the baby boy).  With that I have a lot of southern values when it (stutters) comes to family first.  Not family first, God first and then family values. And, try to live…TRY to live a good life. You never gonna get it right all the time, God knows. But, to be able to (stutters) get that from my mom and dad, which is now deceased (Craig – sorry). But, they did their job for me.  Now it’s time for me to do my job for my loved ones.

It’s not about no show or…I don’t do it for nobody because at the end of the day (Craig – who do you do it for?) For me and (stutters) and love of God and love of family. A pastor told me, “what other people think (stutters) or say about you is none of your business. It’s none of my business. I can’t get tied up in that. And, throughout the years I have been going through a lot of stuff that I have been going through. I’ve never had the easy road, per se. A lot of time it’s in the background, a lot. Not because I (stutters) wanted to.

But, some things I had in terms of a speech impediment that I like to hit on first. It was tough. I am not going to sit here and say that anybody who knows or (stutters) has what I have…it can be hard sometimes. There’s a lot of things that we have inside our heads to where I had to learn. I had to find a way so that they can hear me before they hear me.  When they hear me, they don’t HEAR me.  If they hear me they’re not even listening, they are (stutters) listening to how I’m saying it. But, they’re not getting it. So, as I was coming up I said “how can I find something that (emphatically) nobody can have…I can GET my voice across which is music.  That’s one of the ways. And, two just to be sure of myself no matter what.

Craig Martin
Well, I think the part that I am so incredibly moved by is that every human being on this planet has something that is an obstacle to what we do. I have had plenty of obstacles. But, you’ve never treated your stutter as an obstacle and actually we talked about it. The President of the United States has a stutter.

Rodney Stith
And, here’s the one thing, let me tell you this. We who (stutters) who does stutter we know who….(Craig – you know who you are). It’s a (says jokingly) mutancy like the Marvel movies. You know, we know. It’s that special thing we got, the words we say or how we said it…the (stutters) rhythm of how we said it. We set ourselves up before we even get it out. Because we know that if we fall or come out the gate wrong, your (stutters) attention span is gonna be on just that. So, we gotta work hard on how we are going to overcome this.

Craig Martin
So, you’ve worked it out through your music, which is transcendent.

Rodney Stith
I think Jim Harbaugh said, “the word disability in life is not you can’t walk you can’t talk…the worst disability in LIFE is having a bad attitude.” Because you know why?  Because nobody wants to deal with you then no matter how smart you are. When I heard that I was like “wow.” It’s an obstacle. How can I get around this thing without being STUCK.  Because there are a lot of folks out there who are stuck. And, I feel their pain because I was stuck. I felt like I wasn’t like you or anybody else because I had so much to say but I couldn’t say it because they’re not listening. You wanna raise your hand so bad because you know the answer but you say the answer you might got 5 or 6 other people who might make a (stutters) smirk or joke or whatever. I’ve been through that part.

If you was in a room of 80 people the one that you WOULD remember is me because of that [his stutter]. So then I have to ask myself, “Do I wanna be remembered BECAUSE of that or do I want to be among the 80? So, that is what I have to battle with. That’s what I have to go through. I wanna be like you but I know what I have. So, I gotta work harder to relax myself.

Listen to the entire conversation here and find out more about Rodney “the Soul Singer” Stith which includes the motivation for his incredibly powerful and poignant hit “Who Am I?”

Rodney performed at Common House-Richmond as part of a celebration of the 11th Anniversary of Q Martin’s Carter Magazine.  The event was live on the first day of Black History Month in honor of Carter Magazine’s namesake, Carter G. Woodson.

The event was live-streamed courtesy of In Your Ear Studio’s “Shockoe Sessions Live” with host Reese Williams.  Watch the entire event which includes music from Chance Fischer

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