A Biography

Who is Rosalie Cunningham?

Since her celebrated band Purson played its final gig in December 2016, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rosalie Cunningham has been quietly reinventing her career and is emerging from her self-imposed “musical hibernation” as the visionary solo artist she always was.

Currently at the mixing and design stage, Rosalie’s eponymous début album – due for release in early 2019 – is the result of an extended period of reflection and will contain her strongest and most daring songwriting to date, ranging from a three minute Blackbird-esque nod to her creative hero Sir Paul McCartney, to an epic prog rock saga that will take the listener on the mother of all sonic journeys.

For Rosalie, 28, her creative spring has finally blossomed, though not without a few birth pangs. She explains: “After Purson came to an end, I continued to write songs, not for an album, a band or anything in particular – it was purely cathartic. Being subconsciously released from the shackles of writing music for a band to perform live let me express myself more honestly. Some of the lyrics are quite close to the bone and I’ve found myself exploring new genres.

“Without any perceived pressure, I could take plenty of time over arrangements and that has benefitted the musical landscape compared with previous work. Everything is in its right place without feeling contrived. It also helped spawn great diversity as I wasn’t trying to make it a cohesive body of work, although I feel it has naturally become one.”


SERIOUS INTENT

This is the latest chapter of an intriguing career story that began at the age of just 12 when Southend, Essex-born Rosalie first picked up a guitar with serious intent. “Even before then,” she says, “I was picking out melodies on the piano and writing little songs, but developing a real interest in the guitar was the catalyst to forming my first band at school, Suzie’s Lip, when I reached 13.”

The eldest child of a musician/journalist father and yoga teacher mother, Rosalie grew up with her three siblings in an environment where music was constantly in the air. Fascinated by The Beatles, Slade, Syd-era Pink Floyd, Bowie, Small Faces, Genesis and Black Sabbath, her creativity first reached the wider public in 2007 when she founded her first professional band, the all-female, Gothic-psychedelic outfit Ipso Facto, releasing three singles and a mini album, touring as support to Magazine and The Last Shadow Puppets, and becoming the new darlings of the festival circuit.

After Ipso Facto’s split, Rosalie immersed herself in the session world, guesting with numerous bands and artists, and appearing on TV programmes including ‘Later… With Jools Holland’, ‘BBC Electric Proms’ and NBC’s ‘Jay Leno Show’, however, the burning urge to cultivate her own music was never far away. In 2011, wearing her psychedelic influences even more proudly, Rosalie’s next move was to launch the internationally acclaimed Purson.

Initially signed to Rise Above, Purson released their first album, The Circle & The Blue Door (2013), which included the singles ‘Rocking Horse’ and ‘Leaning On A Bear’, as well as live favourites ‘Tragic Catastrophe’ and ‘Spiderwood Farm’. Dealing with “the struggle between light and dark”, the album was followed by an EP, In The Meantime…, and then, in April 2016, by the Spinefarm/Universal release, Desire’s Magic Theatre. Rosalie’s more adventurous, widescreen vision of “vaudeville carny psych”, this beautifully executed album bore tracks including the heavily playlisted ‘Electric Landlady’ and ‘The Sky Parade’.

Purson frequently toured the UK, Europe and North America – with the likes of KISS, Ghost and Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – and featured regularly on BBC 6 Music. The band also had the honour of winning several major accolades. Hailed as Best New Band and being awarded Best Début Album in Terrorizer magazine’s 2013 readers poll, Purson was shortlisted at Classic Rock’s 2014 Rock Roll Of Honour event in Los Angeles. In 2015, the band won the Vanguard award at the Progressive Music Awards in London.

INSPIRATION

After writing what became Purson’s posthumous single, ‘Chocolate Money’, Rosalie recorded and issued a 50th anniversary cover of The Beatles’ ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ with her father, Mark. “It was just the right thing for me to do at the time. Reminding myself of the creative and technical leaps they made with the original track inspired me to take my own leap of faith. This love I have for The Beatles will always be there and its one of the reasons I enjoy playing their later period material in The Sky Diamonds, an occasional band I’m in with my Dad and my partner, Rosco Levee.”

Rosalie adds: “My five-year journey with Purson taught me a lot about the music business but, mostly, a lot about being true to myself. Since Desire’s Magic Theatre, my writing has developed in ways I hadn’t expected and I’m now more confident of my music and how I want to be perceived than I ever have been. This next step with the first solo album is a huge career milestone and I’m not sure what the world will make of it but, for me, it has been a significant step in my maturing as a musician and songwriter. Moving forward has never felt so exciting!”

“Rosalie... is one of the most exciting rock musicians to come along in ages. She has that indefinable magnetic quality that rock stars are made of.”
Shawn Dudley, ProgRadar

© Copyright 2018 Rosalie Cunningham