“This is the first record under my own name,” Selena Rosanbalm says matter-of-factly about her new album. “The name change makes me feel liberated. It gives me the freedom to get political and talk about real issues facing the world today instead of feeling pressured to write within the confines of country music.”
You may recall the band she’s referring to writing for -- honky-tonk group Rosie and the Ramblers, founded in 2011, and based in Austin, Texas. In addition to touring the western US, recording two EPs, and releasing a full-length record of original material, Rosie and the Ramblers became a crowd favorite in Austin’s two-stepping scene, boasting billing with Austin favorites Kelly Willis, Mike and the Moonpies, and Brennen Leigh.
With her new, self-titled album, Selena deals with grief -- the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, shifts in dynamics between adult children and their parents. She introduces listeners to more of who she is, showcasing heartbreaking candor and an edginess that sets these new songs apart from her previous work. Throughout the album, she’s not afraid to approach complicated subject matter.
“The name change from Rosie and the Ramblers to Selena Rosanbalm was really the impetus for the new record,” she says. “I had a bunch of songs ready to go, but when I needed a few more, I studied the music I wanted my ‘new sound’ to sound like and worked to write in those styles.”
Selena stepped away from music for two years after the sudden death of a loved one. Taking the time to grieve properly allowed her to fully process the loss, which in turn fueled her writing. Her songs are more open and honest than ever. Her perspective has broadened and changed. The trauma reshaped the way she experiences the world, reconstructed her view of it, and revealed many things she once thought important as inconsequential.
Music has been a large part of Selena’s life for—well, most of it. After earning a Bachelor of Music from Oklahoma City University, she spent some years pursuing a musical theatre career and was an Austin Critics Table Award nominee (Best Actor in a Leading Role) for her portrayal of the legendary Patsy Cline in 2009. She even did a stint in New York City, auditioning for Broadway and touring shows. After returning to Austin, Selena decided her creative life needed a jolt, and she started a band.
Selena has helped keep the tradition of Western Swing alive, singing and recording four albums with Hot Texas Swing Band over the last nine years. In Fancy, a cover band featuring women’s country music from the ‘80s and ‘90s, Selena shares the spotlight with fellow singer-songwriters Beth Chrisman and Christy Hays. She’s recorded backup vocals for other artists, perhaps most notably as a member of a quartet featured on Brennen Leigh Sings Lefty Frizzell. The 2014 release from Rosie and the Ramblers, "Whatever You Need," was met with critical acclaim.
5 January 2021 | Season 1 | 52 mins 54 secs
album release, musician, songwriter
In this episode, Skipper chats with Selena Rosanbalm about making a solo album this year, releasing it, and promoting it without the typical methods to support it (read: touring)