Taking heed of mom’s advice, Robin finished with a bachelor’s degree in business management and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of New Orleans. But like many New Orleanians (and Americans all over) found, having a master’s degree didn’t guarantee a job. “I couldn’t find a job with a master’s degree, so I decided that I could either find some kind of daytime job or I could do what makes me happy. And singing is what makes me happy. It just so happens that I was in the perfect city to make that decision and follow it. I’m living my dream right now.”
And a dream it is. From singing the national anthem at a New Orleans Saints' home game to performing at favorite New Orleans events such as Wednesday at the Square and Tales of the Cocktail, Robin has followed her passion and is making a damn good living from it! She said, “Robin, the singer, is energy! I love making people feel exactly what I’m feeling when I’m singing a song. So when it’s happy, I want people jumpin’ and movin’! And if it’s sad, I want you to be sad. I’ve been inspired all my life by Etta James. That is a woman of power. As soon as you hear that voice, it commands you, and I want to have that kind of presence.”
She continued, “New Orleans is blessed with a lot of talented musicians, but because of that, it can be a struggle to stand out and be different. I strive to give a particular type of presence when I perform. When you see Robin Barnes, you’re going to see someone who is passionate about the music, not someone who is singing a song just to be singing a song.”
Robin’s music is inspired by several genres, including jazz, soul, blues, and even a little reggae. “With music, there are so many genres that I don’t want to be put in a box. My set list can be something like Etta James’ At Last, Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World, Ella Fitzgerald’s Can’t Take that Away from Me, and Adele’s Rolling in the Deep. You just never know what you’re gonna get and that is something that I feel makes me unique. With so many talented artists here, New Orleans forces you to be creative, to think outside the box, and to always be on your toes. But at the same time, New Orleans has that enriching focus. It isn’t just a dog and pony show with people singing songs. It’s a teaching tool and the lesson is that you better be good at what you do if you want to be successful. You have to actually be a musician. You have to actually be an artist. You actually have to perform and do the best you can always. New Orleans forces you to be a better artist.”
She added, “New Orleans has been very good to me. People see the struggles and see you playing at all these places trying your best and you just want a chance. New Orleans has given me the opportunity to take that chance and do my best. I’ve gotten to meet some of the most incredible people on my journey so far and it’s been all love. New Orleans is love, I truly believe that. And that’s what I always tell people, NOLA love. I don’t say ‘best’ or ‘sincerely’, just NOLA love.”
Robin has started this journey and not looked back. She has followed her passion, and maybe felt uncertain at times, but followed it nonetheless. “I’m starting a new chapter in my life and I want people to realize that following your passion is ok,” she said. “I want people to really understand who Robin Barnes is. I’m completely dedicated to music now and I’m excited.”
She concluded, “The biggest reward is that feeling you get after you finish singing to the point where you’re out of breath and everyone just stops. I’ve been privileged to experience those moments where people just pause and let the song end and settle, and then they clap like crazy. To me, that means that they actually listened.”
Well, Ms. Robin, New Orleans is definitely listening. And believe us, when you hear Robin singing, you will do just that…listen and enjoy.
For more information about Robin Barnes, please visit her website, Facebook, and Twitter.
UPDATE (July 2013): Come celebrate the debut of Robin's first album, entitled Me, with an exclusive release party and performance with special guest DJ Diagnosis at Eiffel Society, Wednesday, July 10, 2013! The album was produced and engineered by Jack Miele (Zac Brown Band, Ani DiFranco, John Oates) at Fudge Recording Studio and mastered by Bruce Barielle (Theresa Andersson, Cowboy Mouth, Preservation Jazz Hall Band).