I had the pleasure of talking with Jamell (Melly Mel) Richardson about his career and experiences within the music community. His warmth and charm makes him a force of personality to be reckoned with both on stage and in person. Jamell would be the first to tell you that he’s a country boy at heart born in small town Butler, Alabama. While his roots may be humble his guitar chops are anything but. This “Gulf Coast Blues Boy” grew up in the heart of gospel music. Growing up with his grandmother being a pastor, the soul of gospel music runs deep in his veins. This wailing guitarist had to start somewhere, and like many musicians before him, his love of gospel music started him on a path towards the blues. “I thought if I had to pick any other kind of music to play other that traditional gospel, it had to be the blues. “ Like most blues musicians he started out as a passionate fan and listener. Jamell talks about that first moment when the blues bug bit him. Having being given his first guitar at the age of two, he talks about the first he heard one of his blues idols. He warmly chuckles recalling that moment… “being a guitarist the first time you experience that BB King sound its something you cant pull away from.” Jamell talks about blues as someone filled with excitement and delight about finding their passion and purpose. His song “I Love The Blues” says it all for him as he hollers out the lyrics, “So when you ask me, why I do what I do. I shake my head and simply say ‘because I love it.’” Seeing that boy howl and shout on the stage no one doubts that fact. He loves it.
Jamell recently was offered the opportunity of a lifetime to play James Brown’s guitarist Jimmy Nolen in the upcoming movie Get On Up. While accompanying his friend and saxophone player to an audition for the film, he was spotted by a music supervisor and asked if he was interested in auditioning. He landed a position as a background musician on set but became more involved in the film, even leading some of band rehearsals on set as well as teaching guitar lessons to some of the actors on set. James Brown has influenced many musicians both as a bandleader and as a performer. He was a madman on stage howling and screaming his guts out, you can see a reflection of this when Jamell takes the stage. The Get On Up experience has really changed his life and set him up to be the front man he always knew he could be, “Even though he [James Brown] is dead and gone he’s played a lot into who I am as a performer.”
Jamell is very active in his performances. Interacting with the audience he seems like a natural. Ironically it wasn’t until recently that Jamell became his own front man. Formerly a background guitarist for another band he has used his role in the film as a springboard towards a promising musical career. He recently released his EP Gulf Coast Blues Boy of original music written and recorded in his own home studio. It’s often said that some people just get lucky, but the truth is hard-working people get lucky more often. Jamell is one lucky man.
Interviewed by Chandler Coffing for Weget and Photos from Springboard South Photos by Ran DeBord