Rondi Charleston comes from a long line of singers and songwriters, dating back to her great-grandmother toiling on the Great Plains in the 1800s. Rondi’s musical influences come together on her latest album, “Who Knows Where The Time Goes.”
Like the restless spirit of her ancestors, Rondi Charleston inhabits a deep sense of adventure. As a performer, she can’t resist testing uncharted territory and trying something new. Take, for instance, her update of the title track, a reflective folk-rock tune made famous in the 1960s by the late Sandy Denny.
Rondi says she’s always been drawn to songs possessing an interesting story.
“I love Brazilian and the Great American Songbook and classic pop standards, as well, from my childhood," she said. "I have a deep love of tradition and always include a lot of standards. But, I always try to find songs that are rarely heard, that I feel I can bring something truly new and fresh.”
Rondi trained for a singing career at the Juilliard School, where she earned two degrees in music. After working with several professional opera companies, however, she decided to pursue another lifelong passion and enrolled in journalism classes at New York University.
“My life took a complete 180. I ended up winning an investigative journalism award while I was there at NYU getting my degree," she said. "And, I was hired by ABC News and started working for Diane Sawyer on pieces that we won Emmy Awards and Peabody Awards for - medical pieces, political pieces, science pieces - and I would go undercover. And it was a complete surprise to me that this happened in my life, but a wonderful surprise.”
When Rondi returned to singing full time, she also changed musical direction, from classical to jazz. There are plenty of jazz standards on her new album, as well as a pair of soul remakes, Latin pop, and an original tune dedicated to her great-grandmother Indiana.
“Even though she had no formal education, she worked as a maid, she was a natural storyteller," Rondi said. "And, she was an astute observer of life and people and feelings and experiences. What I think I inherited from her was her core strength and resilience, and quite possibly, her way with words and her voice.”