Tales Episode 22: Simi Stone

Tales From the Jazz Side with singer-songwriter/musician/visual artist Simi Stone

I can’t think of a better way to start my first interview for 2023 than for it to be with the talented, admirable and notably beautiful artist Samantha Molly Lou Sernaker (aka Simi Stone). I have never performed with Simi but I am a fan of both her music and visual artworks. I find that it can be very difficult to find people, whom you can immediately say to yourself – wow, this person is a free and pure spirit-being. Someone who is the embodiment of grace, compassion, love and determination. Simi Stone is one of those people. Not only does she walk the walk, but she talks the talk, all of which you can recognize in her creative endeavors. Her fearless and unflinching dive into the deepest parts of herself encourages us all not to fear what life has to bring but, by working on ourselves and never giving up we can find the self-care and happiness we seek. It is this piercing vulnerability that endears her to anyone who encounters her. And particularly, it is in her performances that you can feel this memorable magic.

“My songs tend to reflect the conditions of being alive.  The feelings come first, then the words. Human beings fascinate me.  How to find peace.  How to hold on to yourself. Love, despair, and healing inspire me.  Ultimately, I want to make people feel joyful from the music.  Healed by the music,” 

Simi Stone

Her career is also a reflection of the progressive and unique person that she is. Besides being one of the first African Americans to navigate the waters of the punk rock era in NYC, her musical associations help lead to the formation of the Afro-punk movement which became the staple of the New York City late-night dance scene. There you could find her making solo appearances with her electric violin set to dance music. Her transition took on a more gritty and rock & roll sound, leading her to form the band Suffrajett. Touring and playing every club under the sun from east coast to west coast, including House of Blues in L.A, Chicago and NYC’s famed Bowery Ballroom, CBGBs and several Summer Stage events with Joan Jett, The Roots, and Erika Badu.  

In addition to her creative partnership with producer David Baron, over the last few years, Simi has found herself as a guest vocalist on two of Natalie Merchant’s albums: the 2014 self-titled Natalie Merchant, as well as Paradise is There: The New Tigerlily Recordings in 2015, and touring, performing, and recording with The New Pornographers, Natalie Merchant, Neko Case, Conor Oberst, Gipsy Kings, Simone Felice, and Amy Helm. Simi’s backing vocals graced the stage on David Byrne’s 2018 world tour.

Aside from her musical accomplishments, her visual artwork has been gaining momentum and interest in the art world since she began firmly focusing on pursuing painting in 2014. Some of the work created during this period was included in a three-month showcase at the Ardnaglass Gallery in 2016.  Even though she is still performing, she has been dedicating more of her time to painting artwork pieces for gallery shows in the Hudson Valley.

There is much to discover about Simi Stone and I can’t put it all here, however, to find out more about Ms. Stone, listen to her music and view her art, visit Simi Stones’ website.

Tales from the Jazzside