Born and raised in St. Louis, Rosalinde Block was classically trained for a career as a concert pianist. Alas, her mother’s dreams flew out the window the minute Rosalinde was old enough to turn on a radio. KATZ and KXLW, the two AM soul stations in the St. Louis area, were the source of great R&B throughout the week, and of course, gospel all day Sunday. St. Louis being one of the gospel hubs of the U.S., Rosalinde and her father would take Sunday drives through the inner city neighborhoods where they could hear music pouring from the many storefront churches. Those memories have since transformed themselves into some of Rosalinde’s most edifying musical moments.
As a teen, Rosalinde worked in the shipping department at a local record store, where perks included free admission to the “Motortown” Revues at Kiel Auditorium, with backstage passes to hang out with Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, the Marvelettes and many more of the great Motown artists. During the ‘60s, neighborhood movie theaters brought in live acts—James Brown, The Impressions and The Isley Brothers shared a bill for $2.50. For her 13th birthday, her dad took her to Chicago’s Old Town to hear Marvin Gaye perform at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go. Being the only kid in the audience and visibly the only fan singing along, Marvin shared the mic with Rosalinde and invited her to his dressing room to hang out.
Along with R&B, other musical influences came from the strong vocal groups—for instance, the Beach Boys, the ultimate harmonizers—from where she learned not to ooh and ahh, but rather to “unhh.” And of course, after ear-ing into Steely Dan, she never wrote a straight chord again. During her four years at Sarah Lawrence College where she performed on and off campus, she jokingly signed her autograph as Carole King or Laura Nyro—depending on how she was wearing her hair that day. As it was, everybody was comparing her to the reigning singer/songwriters.
Rosalinde moved to NYC in 1974. In a matter of weeks, she was picked up by Columbia Records and was recording her demos at the original CBS Studios on 52nd Street. She thought she had hit pay dirt and had no idea that there would be 40+ years of career-hustling ahead. The 1970s found her peddling songs up and down Sixth Avenue and showcasing them in renowned NYC clubs such as The Bottom Line, The Bitter End, The Village Gate and Tramps.
She was riding on the caboose of the Brill Building era, when a writer could still walk into an office, sit down at the piano and try out new songs. She spent hours pounding out tunes for Don Kirshner as well as placing material with Warner Brothers, Chappell, MCA, Motown/Jobete, CBS/Sony/ April Blackwood and RCA. Rosalinde also did a lot of jingle work.
It was through those sessions that she was recommended to Al Kooper as a back-up singer—her first US tour. Rosalinde later traveled with the doo-wop revival tours, playing keyboards for The Impalas, who shared the bill with Tito Puente.
As the ‘80s brought the advent of the home studio, Rosalinde set herself up with a wall of synthesizers and recorded scores of demos.
During this time she also produced and arranged for other artists, as well as continuing to work in clubs, concert halls, cafes, cabarets, cruise ships and more piano bars than she would care to count.
Her repertoire of standards was also well utilized as she spent years performing for audiences in hospitals and nursing homes.
As a crossover artist, Rosalinde found niches in New York jazz clubs as well as the Jazz Vespers series at St. Peter’s Citicorp Center. She performed in “Women in Jazz” festivals, the New York Daily News Summer Concert series and “First Night.”
Rosalinde’s son was born in 1991. Her musical career detoured as she raised Joe as a single parent. Combining her crossover talents, she taught piano, conducted children’s art salons, recording sessions, writing workshops, after-school musical theatre programs in the NYC public school system as well as participating in the Mentors and Protégés series under the auspices of WQXR and the New York Philharmonic Young Composer Series.
Rosalinde later joined the BMI-Lehman Engel Music Theater Workshop, where she wrote music and lyrics for an off-Broadway show, which is now being developed for a film musical.
She also returned to performing, this time bringing her songs into local gospel churches with some of the finest choirs in the NY community. From 2006-2012 she sang in the gospel choir of a well-known televangelist ministry. During this time she also created a music video, working off her gospel edge with a fresh young rapper.
Rosalinde is also a writer/illustrator. Chronicling her son’s journey as well as those of the many kids she worked with over the years, those “parables” launched a number of children's books. Among them is JULIA MORPHS—the story of an elephant struggling with body image and self-acceptance, published by Youthlight, Inc.
JULIA MORPHS is the receipient of a Mom’s Choice Award and is endorsed by ABT star Misty Copeland as well as the International Baccalaureate. In addition to writing and illustrating, Rosalinde is also a commissioned muralist, having created several installations for The Reebok Club.
In 2014 Rosalinde debuted her solo show, DRAMA OF THE GIFTED GROWNUP, a culmination of her music, art and writings. Rosalinde performs the piece as a narrative, interlaced with excerpts of 19 songs from her vast catalog.
The set is a montage of her cartoons and illustrations. Over the past several years she has performed the show in NYC and St. Louis. DRAMA OF THE GIFTED GROWNUP was featured at the New York Theatre Festival Summerfest 2017 and toured in the Pacific Northwest in March 2018. The piece is now being developed for the small screen as a film.
Most recently, Rosalinde produced a talking book version of the first installment of her story, CHRISTOPHER CRANE. The video is available on YouTube. Ten percent of profits from all things Christopher Crane are going to Habitat for Humanity.