If you’ve heard Abbigale Rose sing, you haven’t forgotten her. The Ohio native singer/guitarist has a remarkably resonant voice that crosses genres and influences. She’s been described as a country singer and a pop artist. In 2019 she was named “Best Blues/Jazz Artist” in the City Paper’s Best of Toledo awards. So…what genre does Rose consider herself to be?
“I’ve actually been asking myself a simpler form of that for a couple of years: What am I? What category can I be tossed into? I have no idea what I am. I just try to sing songs that I love. I can’t put a label on it,” Rose explained.
Just call Rose phenomenal. Even though she started just three years ago to make her mark on the Toledo music scene, she has already made a name for herself— which she regards as a great honor.
“I’m walking in the footsteps of giants from around here. To have a name that’s recognized is a huge honor for anybody on the music scene. And it’s been fulfilling, because I feel like I’ve worked really hard to get here, but I’m not done yet.”
Music has always been a part of Rose’s life. She grew up in a musical family. Her grandfather was a member of the Country Music Association. Her dad taught himself how to play guitar listening to Beatles albums. She would listen to classic rock albums with her father of artists that she now counts among her influences: Chuck Berry. Linda Rondstadt. Mama Cass.
“I’m in my mid-30s. I’m old enough that I was in high school when Britney Spears and NSYNC were popular, so I listened to that music with my classmates,” Rose said. “But as I got older, I started going back to the music that I listened to with my dad.”
Other than church, she’d never really performed. It wasn’t until four years ago that Rose was inspired to start striking out on her own musical path.“I saw a band called Moose and Da Sharks from Detroit, at the casino. And they were playing 50’s and 60’s music that I had grown up listening to with my dad. I saw them having fun on stage, and I thought, ‘Man, that would be such a cool thing!’ Of course, not having any idea how much work it actually takes,” Rose said with a laugh.
That night lit the spark. A year later the fire really started, when Rose lost her job as a secretary. “I thought, well, if I’m gonna do music, it’s now or never.”
Being told no
Of course, when no one knows who you are, booking gigs can be an uphill battle. There was “a lot of knocking on doors and being told ‘no’” in the early days. “A lot of taking jobs that most people wouldn’t take, last minute cancellations, things that didn’t pay well, but doing as much as I could because that was how I’d provide for my two kids. So that just meant taking anything I could get.”
Rose maintains that get-to-it attitude, finding it especially handy as gigs have dried up over the last year, due to COVID. She still performs monthly at Kora Brew House and Te’Kela Mexican Cantina, among other locations. And she’s taking the extra time to work on writing original songs, with an eye on releasing an LP later this year.
“The hard part about original music is, a lot of people write for themselves, but it’s not necessarily what other people want to hear,” Rose said. “I think that’s ultimately the measure for music. It’s about who you can touch, not about how (the performer) feels about it.”
Find out where you can see Abbigale perform live at facebook.com/abbigaleroseofficial