Marcella Simien is a Memphis-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist hailing from Louisiana. The daughter of zydeco legend Terrance Simien, her music blends Memphis soul with New Orleans funk to create something altogether new. Although the ongoing pandemic has kept Marcella from her regular slate of live performances, we caught up with the swamp-soul queen to ask 5 questions about her influences, artistic process, and upcoming projects.
You come from a prominent musical family, which I’ve heard allowed you to spend some time with some true icons of music while you were growing up. Do you have a particularly memorable story that you could share?
I guess because I was such a huge fan of his growing up, I’ll go with my Bob Dylan story. So I was about 15 and we were at Jazz Fest in New Orleans. My dad was friends with Dylan’s band leader Tony Garnier and also knew Kerry Boutte, who owns a Cajun restaurant called Mulate’s. Anyway, Kerry was hosting a dinner at his house for about 10 people or so, including bob Dylan, and invited my dad. I had brought one of my friends Tracy down with me, so dad wasn’t sure if we should come because there was a good chance there would be some illicit activities going on. Well, we figured we wouldn’t get invited, so unbeknownst to my parents, the two of us started drinking vodka by the pool at the hotel. As soon as we got a good buzz, dad called and told us to get dressed because we were coming to the dinner! I remember that this was around May, so it was hot as hell in New Orleans, and Dylan walks in with a pull-over sweatshirt, sweatpants, and a beanie. There was an immediate feeling that fell over me when he walked in the room…I was just overcome by his presence. Anyway, we sat down and ate dinner and he didn’t talk much, but afterwards I was able to introduce myself and shake his hand. I told him what a huge fan I was, although it was hard to articulate just how much his music really meant to me. This was the only time in my life that I ever felt starstruck and I had to go to the bathroom and just cry. It was honestly like meeting a supernatural being.