One of the youngest artists appearing at this year’s Rhythm and Roots Festival in Charlestown, RI also happens to be one of the veterans of the annual event. Meet 18-year-old Veronica Lewis, who first appeared on the Rhythm and Roots stage at age 15 in 2018. This year, she’s playing the Festival on Saturday, September 4th.

Since her debut, the high-energy pianist has taken the blues world by storm. Her recent release You Ain’t Unlucky, has risen to the top of the charts and her fanbase continues to expand in blues and mainstream audiences.

I spoke with Lewis last week as she was gearing up for the Labor Day weekend Festival as well as a few other upcoming shows.

“I released the album in February 2021 and it really has been incredible to have all the support and love for this music,” said Lewis. “Many of the songs on the album are some of the first songs that I ever wrote; it’s really special to share where I’ve come from, where my musical journey started. This album is really the foundation of what I do. It really has been special to see all the support for that.”

As mentioned, that album You Ain’t Unlucky, went to the top of the iTunes chart this Spring, ahead of such luminaries as Etta James, Joe Bonamassa and even Jimi Hendrix. The album is a high-energy blues jaunt, with Lewis banging away on keyboards to her originals as well as a few covers in the tradition of namesake (but no relation) Jerry Lee Lewis. 

“It has been blowing my mind, being up on the charts with some of the greatest musicians and some of my biggest idols. It’s been really crazy but in the best way possible. Every day I’m filled with even more gratitude,” remarked Lewis.

In our interview, she described her approach to recording the album.

“With this project, I completely wanted to keep it as authentic and as real as possible. I kind of imagined I was back in some old studio from the 50’s like Sun Studios. I just kind of walked in and the recording engineer just said ‘show me what ya got.’ There are almost no effects or production on the vocals. I wanted the focus to be on the songs and the musicianship. I think it really captures the message,” she explained.

The singer/songwriter/keyboardist fell in love with blues music at an early age.  

“I really started diving into music and playing piano when I was five or six,” she explained. “What immediately drew me to boogie-woogie and early rock and roll was how exciting and energetic the music was, with players like Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Fats Domino. It was fun music just to listen to, and I wanted to try to figure out how to play it. The blues is a genre of music that was built on perseverance, the musicians who played it were very real and authentic with what they were expressing. It is a triumphant genre of music, it’s very inspiriting and I connected to it on a very deep level.”

Lewis shared a little more about how she approaches the creative process.

“When I write music, my style is bringing together a lot of different genres – blues, rock and roll, roots, country, New Orleans style, a lot of different genres. The common denominator when I’m writing is me and my own personal voice and style. The best way to bring this music into the future is to infuse it with the voice of the modern era. The mistake that can be made is to try to label artists and musicians,” said Lewis.

“When I’m writing, I always try to avoid any limiting boundaries on myself on who I’m writing it for and what the genre is. I just allow myself to kind of flow through the writing and the music. The best way is just to allow artists to be themselves and have the foundation be blue roots and Americana.

Veronica Lewis is the real deal, and as her identity shifts from child prodigy to genuine star, it’s clear she’s got a promising career ahead. For more information on Veronica Lewis, click here.

For more information on the Rhythm and Roots Festival, click here.

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Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music and more for What'sUpNewp, Providence Monthly, SO RI, and The Bay. He DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse" Tuesday nights, 6-9 PM on WRIU 90.3 FM.