"I was never a traditional country singer," laughs Ronna. "You get to the point where you finally have to tell everyone what you do best. Day 14 is what I do best, not country, not anything but a pop album with power and presence."
And Day 14 shimmers with the soaring vocal and lyrical freedom that Ronna has fought for over the years; her personal joy is palpable, track for track. "Heart-Shaped World" breaks the album open with a driving rhythm section, a gritty guitar and Ronna's explosive, free-flying vocals announcing--what else?--the newfound liberty of a woman with a foot pressed full on the gas pedal, crossing state lines for a better place in the world. "Sweet Pretender" is a deceptively pretty track, the airy arrangements and Ronna's honey-dripped vocals masking the harder implications of the tune's get-lost-babe message.
"It's my favorite song on the album," says Ronna. "There are some so-called perfect men who really aren't so perfect and at some point you need to say get out of my life and stay out. When you learn strength and self-confidence, you survive."
"13 Days of Daisy" is a stunning song of a woman's discovery that her lover has betrayed her...and living with that information for thirteen, excruciating days. A darkly-hued track with a hopelessly catchy hook, "13 Days of Daisy" is the emotional centerpiece of an intensely personal album. And what happens on Day 14?
"He's done for," laughs Ronna. "Man, I got a lot of songs out of my ex-husband! Actually, it's about the confusion of a woman knowing she's got to move on, yet also admitting that all of this really hurts."
Working in close collaboration with her musical partner Chris Pelcer for seven months on the songs for Day 14, Ronna was also blessed by the presence of producer and River North label mate Peter Cetera who overheard one of the singer's earlier country records by chance...and quickly realized that Ronna was too much an eclectic non-conformist to be a country singer. He brought the singer in to work on his own album One Clear Voice and the duo recorded a remake of the Abba classic "S.O.S." When time came for Ronna to record her second, breakthrough album for River North, Cetera stepped in to produce. With a small team of devoted musicians surrounding her, Ronna finally found the visceral, edgy and unpredictable sound she had been searching for--and missing--in her country music career.
Born in West Texas, Ronna spent her early years in the flat, endless terrain of oil country. Although her parents weren't musical (her father is in banking, her mother worked for the electric company), the precocious Ronna was warbling Barbra Streisand songs when she was five years old. Her childhood appreciation of Streisand led to a deep admiration of Linda Ronstadt, Janis Joplin, Bonnie Raitt, Anne Wilson of Heart, Emmylou Harris and the other divas of dusky, vocal heartbreak. "I was always drawn to powerful vocalists, women with a strong presence in their voices," says Ronna.
"I always tried to mimic their sound and I had a vibrato at the age of six, just from listening to these women."
When Ronna was only eleven she pulled together her first band, a pop/rock cover outfit called Short Circuit. The family moved when Ronna was thirteen and the ambitious young teenager pulled together another cover-band which stayed together for six years playing bars, state fairs, and clubs.
"I did not have a normal childhood," admits Ronna. "I wasn't a cheerleader, I didn't do football games. Every weekend I was in a club with my parents and the band. I was headstrong and I knew what I wanted. I grew up fast."
Far more mature than her years, Ronna first moved to Nashville when she was only sixteen. The music industry executives Ronna encountered just couldn't imagine a sixteen year-old girl successfully singing country music, especially during the feverish New Wave years of Cyndi Lauper and Duran Duran. Ronna backtracked to Dallas, pulled together another band and within a few years found herself the professional opening act for just about every mega-country star at the time--George Strait, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, the Judds, Kenny Rogers and more.
"I was so totally wrong for that kind of music, even back then!" laughs Ronna. "I was the oddball with the Flock of Seagulls' haircut, black lace gloves and a Material Girl attitude opening up for these guys in boots and jeans. I was never a country girl."
Nevertheless, she eventually signed a three record deal with Mercury and found herself, a rock and roll kid, singing the music she thought she wanted to sing.
"I wasn't brave enough to say no to people who were pushing me in that direction," says Ronna. "I loved country music and was thrilled to have a record deal. I molded myself to certain specifications. Big mistake. Especially for a songwriter. The first words out of everyone's mouth were you can't write that, you can't say that in a country song."
Four records down the line and Ronna is finally through banging her head against brick walls with her fifth--and best--album. Day 14 is a beautifully crafted, passionately sung pop album, a debut of sorts that reflects years of a young woman's struggle to find her artistic niche in the world. And the fiercely happy Ronna, a live performer through and through, can't wait to do this material on the road.
"Even when I was doing country no one could ever control me in my live shows," says Ronna. "I always performed music the way I wanted, with energy and passion and confidence. Now I finally have the songwriting freedom I've always wanted. I'm right where I want to be. It's amazing."