Five months have passed since Redhill frontwoman Julianne parted ways with her country-rock band and embarked on a solo career as a country music singer and songwriter. And so far, the road has been a smooth one. "I had some ideas and thoughts about the way my songs should go and I wanted to follow my heart," she said of the September split with Redhill. The breakup, although amicable, was a surprise to many on Detroit's country scene.
The St. Clair County-based Redhill won the 2007 Detroit Music Award for Outstanding Country Recording and were crowd favorites at the Detroit Hoedown in Hart Plaza on several occasions. Larry Garcia, a longtime fixture on Detroit's country music scene, said her transition to a solo artist was a logical one. "I would say she's progressed to the point where her confidence and ability almost demanded she go off on her own," Garcia said. "She really has grown so much as a singer, as a writer and as a performer in the past few years that she can stand alone as a solo artist." Julianne — who goes solely by her first name in show business — agreed with Garcia's assessment. "Redhill was more on the pop end of country music, which was cool, but I wanted to get more into issues involving human nature, such as the homeless situation which I wrote about," she said. The "homeless situation" is the song "No Place for a Lullabye," a track on her four-song solo EP "It' Ain't Over." It revolves around a homeless mother who lives with her children in a car in order to make ends meet. Julianne — who resembles Patty Loveless and sounds like vintage Sara Evans — said the lyrics "poured out" of her one night while sitting at the kitchen table after putting her children to bed. "I think I hit the nail on the head for single mothers like myself," she said. "I wanted to make people aware of our plight because the majority of households today in the United States are run by single women. It's a big issue." After realizing she wanted to change directions artistically, Julianne said it wasn't scary to leave behind the band she had become known for to set off for parts unknown. "I enjoy being out on my own because I feel like a new person, just ready to go," she said. "I wanted to take a shot and it's been exciting so far."
She hasn't left the band concept behind.Last Wednesday, she played with several stellar musicians — including Roscoe, Todd Glass, Chris Brantley and Chuck Bartels — at Memphis Smoke in Royal Oak. On Saturday night, she'll perform with rock guitarist Steve LeBeau in a solo gig at the River Rat Restaurant on South River Road in Harrison Township. Showtime is 8:30 p.m. "I've played there a month or so ago," she said. "It can get pretty crazy. Everyone has a great time there." For more information, check out www.julianneankley.com.