This Biography is from Happy's old web site auntiesocialmusic.com. That site doesn't exist anymore. The link goes to a mirror. The biography is used with permission.
HAPPY RHODES is an enigma. This is according to the Music Industry, which has never been able to pigeon-hole her into any category. Her music is otherworldly yet substantial and her 4-octave voice has a haunting familiarity to it.
Most listeners find her work difficult to describe and yet she incites an almost unheard of devotion among her fans. She goes from Kate Bush highs to David Bowie lows and you find yourself being beckoned to follow her into her multilayered worlds.
She was born on August 9th, 1965 and named Kimberley Tyler Rhodes. Three days after her birth, while still in the hospital, her brother Mark called her "Happy-baby" because she was so smiley and he couldn't pronounce Kimberley. It seemed so fitting that it stuck. The family never knew her as Kimberley and so when she was 16, she made Happy her legal name.
Happy's youth wasn't easy. She lived in poor neighborhoods, in a poor family and experienced a never-ending onslaught of peer rejection and abandonment. Despite the truly bad odds, she was driven. Music was an early inclination, as were dance and art. Her father, Vernon H. Rhodes Jr., exposed Happy to his very eclectic musical tastes early on. She would sit on the floor in front of his console stereo and listen to Switched-On-Bach until she could sing along with every note. "I remember some Saturday mornings I'd wake up to Bagpipe music BLARING through the house and that meant that he'd be listening to his whole collection all day...... I loved walking around the house, singing along with every record or reel-to-reel tape." When Happy was 11, she got her first guitar. She had no desire to learn the instrument the way everyone else was doing it. She simply wanted to begin writing immediately. Creating was always the main objective for her, not excelling at any one particular instrument. It became instantly clear that Happy's path would not be one of virtuosity. But by the time she was 14, she was already performing her original songs in school shows.
As time went on though, she became increasingly removed from the outer world. High School became a place of alienation for her because she was already driven for a musical future and depression was slowly becoming part of her everyday existence. She knew she needed to do something or she would explode. At age 16, Happy left school and got her G.E.D.
For the next two years, she wrote and made some Open Mic Night appearances at a legendary cafe called Cafe Lena in Saratoga, NY. During this time, she met up with Pat Tessitore, a co-owner of Cathedral Sound Studios in Rensselaer, NY. She approached him with the idea of becoming an intern of sorts, just so she could learn the basics of audio recording. "I knew I wanted to be a professional musician, but didn't really know where to start. So I decided I'd learn how to MAKE records first, get my foot in the door and then figure the rest out later."
Happy never really got the full recording education she was looking for because as soon as Tessitore heard her sing, he insisted on recording everything she'd written up to that point. "She played and it absolutely blew me away. And I had heard a lot of voices in my day", recalls Tessitore. "She brought tears to my eyes."
Soon, Happy met up with another musician and mutual friend of Tessitore's, Kevin Bartlett. Bartlett had been writing his own instrumental music for years and had a small, cassette-only label, called Aural Gratification. He heard Happy's work and asked if she'd like to release her music to the public on his label. She accepted. One of these cassettes made its way to a woman named Vickie Mapes, who at that time, was doing an all-female-artist radio show in Kansas City. She began to play Happy's tapes and circulating samplers to unsuspecting music-lovers. From her efforts, a small fan-base was forming. They organized themselves into what is now known as ECTO, a Happy Rhodes Mailing List. This is a forum through which, music lovers can discuss Happy's work, as well as other "Ectophilic" artists.
Happy released approximately 9 CD's on the Aural Gratification label. In 1997 however, Happy decided that it was time to seek out a different kind of record label. A good friend recommended her to a newly forming label called, Samson Music. Founded by Norm Waitt Jr.(co-founder of the Gateway Computer company), this was a label that Happy felt would take her music to the next level. She signed with them and released "Many Worlds Are Born Tonight" in August of 1998. "I went through a lot of darkness to make that album. It was also the most fun I've ever had making a record." Happy and Samson Music parted ways in early 2000.
Happy lives on a farm in upstate New York with her husband, musician Bob Muller. She currently spends her days building pro-audio equipment for Dangerous Music, a job she likes and finds very satisfying, and taking care of a slew of cats.
She self-released her 11th album, Find Me, in September 2007.
== End auntiesocialmusic.com mirror biography ==
I am transparent
An open book
There's no choice in the matter
But the breath from my mind
Is living air
And the notes from my heart
Are what I share
Words weren't made for cowards
There's not much to hide behind
We can see for a mile
Without our eyes
I can see through a smile
To any lie
If you feel suddenly cool while lying in bed
Open your eyes, I'll be over your head
Now don't be afraid, don't reach out
Just be glad that I exist
I'll be here, I'll be ecto
I'll be here, but I'll be ecto
Happy was the inspiration for the creation of the ecto mailing list and the Ectophiles Guide To Good Music. Ecto the mailing list has been going strong since June 1991 (born from a Kate Bush mailing list) and, while still a marginal home for Happy's fans, it mainly encourages discussion of other arists, especially female artists (male artists are NOT excluded).
Back when ecto first started we designated the term "Ecto music" as a genre to encompass people like Kate Bush, Happy Rhodes, Jane Siberry, Peter Gabriel and others who didn't quite fit into the Rock/Pop/Alternative/whatever categories. It never really caught on.
Website by Vickie. Updated June 25, 2018
Disclaimer: I'm not Happy Rhodes, but I am in contact with her. Everything I do
is done with her permission and blessings. She's a very wonderful person. I discovered
her music in 1988, and I love it as much now as I did when I first heard it.
I'm so happy when other people discover her amazing voice and music. We are lucky. - Vickie