A native of Columbus, Ohio, Eric Merrill explains being captivated by music since his earliest years of remembrance. Though his first instrument was the alto sax, Eric began hearing melodies with accompanying poetic words, which quickly caused him to shift to learning to play the piano, and with the aid of high school music teacher, Mary Daniels, Eric’s foundation for songwriting began; and oh my, how refreshing and unique his style truly is. When asked exactly how his style developed, Eric recounted that, “growing up in the Christian church, all of my friends were musicians and/or singers, so that’s where I first learned to sing. The peculiar thing is that I couldn’t seem to sing “big”, like everyone else. I had to develop my own capable style, and songwriting facilitated that”. Eric also passionately describes that he always loved hearing stories told. When he realized that one could tell stories musically, he wanted nothing more than telling stories through song.
Eric admits that music is his first love; however, he gives this historical insight. His parents encouraged him to obtain a college education, in case a career in music didn’t pan out successfully. As finances for college tuition were lacking, Eric decided to join the US Military, specifically the Air Force as a Medical Lab Tech, which, as providence would have it, exposed him to the field of medicine. Eric would go on to obtain a Bachelor’s of Science degree, become a Chemist, successfully matriculate through medical school, marry a beautiful girl, father two amazing daughters, became a Medical Officer in the US Navy, a Flight Surgeon in the Air Force, and a Neurosurgery Resident Physician! Yet all the while, ironically, there still remained this void, that only music, songwriting, and singing could fill…; Eric had to find a way to return to his childhood, irreplaceable love. “I’ve always wanted to play nylon string guitar, so when I purchased my 1st Taylor, God began teaching me to play, by giving me wonderful songs”, is how Eric describes how he returned to that irreplaceable love.
From early mentors (The Gospel Sons, The Gospel Truth, Spirit Song, and Freedom), to influences, the likes of Earl Klugh, Michael Franks, James Taylor, Al Jarreau, Stevie Wonder, and Andrae Crouch, Eric has truly been fortunate to have developed such a unique and varied style palate. One can tell just by listening, that it fits him just right; so natural, and non-pressured. It’s quite beautiful actually; songs that tell stories…stories of life, love, and relationship, with one another, and with The Lord God. Eric Merrill is a listening privilege; an artist that you are sure to enjoy.
Thank you for taking this interview! How has the New Year been for you so far as an artist?
Well, between Medicine, maintaining life as a husband and father, and completing this 1st project, I’d say just less than exhausting (LOL!); but really focused and fun actually.
Can you tell us how you've transformed from the beginning to now as an artist?
The learning curve has been very steep. I’ve become a student of marketing; having a project budget is now quite paramount/imperative; and I’m much less apologetic/hesitant concerning my creative opinion and my style.
How did you come up with your latest project?
It began with a discussion with very good friends (and amazing musicians/arrangers/producers), Jacob Ellzey, and later Daryl Wicker. I was telling them that I had begun learning to play nylon string acoustic guitar, and as I was learning to play, these melodies were really coming, and I’d really like to create a project. One thing led to another, and thank The Lord God, after being introduced to Hamilton Hardin (one of the most gifted musicians/arrangers/producers I have ever met), I was able to complete my first independent solo project.
Where are you from originally?
Where do you live now?
My wife and I reside in Chesterfield, Virginia, just south of Richmond.
Do you think where you live impacts how your music is made?
Not really; as a matter of fact, it’s a bit of a hindrance. Though I do a lot of writing here, and record my vocal and guitar tracks at my home studio, everything else is done either in Columbus, or Atlanta.
What was the inspiration to make music your career?
Well, music is not actually my career; Medicine is my career…I’m a Medical Doctor. Music is my passion; it’s where my heart is; it’s what I feel.
How do you want to shape your career?
I hope to continue to practice Medicine, and continue creating/recording songs/music; I’ve got to find where I belong musically…my “Tribe” (audience/following), if you will.
Do you work on a tight timeline always or do you go with the flow when it comes to your music?
I’d say it’s a bit of both; when the feeling/inspiration hits, I let that inspiration from The Lord God manifest. When there needs to be a timeline, I respect that as well.
How did your latest title of your music come to be?
Not really sure; just toyed around with some ideas, and The Eric E. Merrill Project, Volume 1 just seemed like, “Yep, that’ll work”.
Is it hard to let go of the music when it is done?
ABSOLUTELY!! And I kind of hate it, because it can make it difficult to celebrate and enjoy the finals. I’m hearing all the stuff I should have heard, changed, done differently, added, taken away…; it just goes on and on. Hopefully I won’t struggle so hard on the Volume 2.
Do you feel an emotional attachment to your music?
From the perspective of what the songs are supposed to portray, stylistically and lyrically, for sure.
How would you describe your music in one word to someone who hasn't listened to it yet?
Where do they go to listen NOW?
My website, ericstreetmusic.com, as well as all the major streaming sites like iTunes, Spotify, Pandora; places like that.
What has been the best fan reaction to your music?
It’s pretty special when I’ve heard listeners say, “ I actually visualized what you were singing about; WOW! I can’t stop listening to that song”. All I can do is smile.
Is there anything exciting coming up for you?
So much actually, but principally, I’m starting on Volume 2.
Are you performing the song anywhere LIVE?
Right now performing live is difficult due to my “Doctor” life, but thanks to Gabrielle Solange (do yourself a favor, and check out her social media page; you are in for an AMAZING treat from a vocalist/songwriter/performer!), the marketing is greatly supporting this project.
Give us all your socials and links so fans can link up with you!