This is Kerri Edelman. Oh, and she sings, surfs, and produces TV shows, too.
New Jersey is known for turning out some amazing things – from Taylor Ham to Jon Bon Jovi. We’ve got everything from music to food pretty well-covered. Given recent events where the world’s eyes were all on the real Jersey shore in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, I thought it was only fitting that I focus on a real Jersey girl who’s got it goin’ on.
When you first read that Kerri Edelman is a forensic psychologist, you might be thinking along the lines that her life mirrors Jodie Foster’s starring role in Silence of the Lambs. While Edelman’s day job in a maximum security correctional setting doesn’t contain as much drama, it’s what she does on the side that’s grabbing everyone’s attention.
Edelman grew up on the Jersey shore. She’s a true surfer girl, and has remained coastal her whole life. Right before I was ready to write this article, I spoke with her and she told me that she had to evacuate her seaside home during the hurricane and had lost much of what she had, too. It seems no one was immune to Sandy’s wrath. For as much as the ocean has caused Edelman recent repercussions, she still longs to ride the waves and will be up and at ‘em again in true Jersey unbroken spirit.
Edelman is a petite five foot tall package of power. When she’s not at work, she’s wearing 4 or 5 inch heels (my kind of girl!) She jokes she usually opts for skirts and dresses because she can’t find pants that fit without getting them altered. When she makes it big she says, “The first thing I would want is an amazing tailor!” since many of the clothes she likes just don’t fit. They are either too long or too big; but that doesn’t stop her from looking fabulous.
You might be wondering what is so intriguing about this particular Jersey girl. Well, first of all, fame is in her genes. She’s the niece of composer Randy Edelman, known for music in the movies: Gettysburg, The Last of the Mohicans and My Cousin Vinny. She’s also the niece of singer/songwriter Jackie DeShannon, who you would recognize for “What the World Needs Now is Love” and “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”. So you can say music is in Edelman’s blood, literally.
“I think genetically there is something there. That’s why when I started getting into music, it was easy for me to have a sense of what I want,” Edelman elaborates. “I didn’t start singing until about 2006. I didn’t get into it until I was into my Masters program. I started writing melodies and dabbling in a few projects and working with my first hard rock band. We did some shows at The Stone Pony and other venues,” explains Edelman.
Her musical talent lies with writing lyrics and melodies. She doesn’t play instruments, but she intuitively knows she wants heavy guitar or more keyboard when composing something new. As many musically gifted people born with talent, she doesn’t write music scores; she just gets a tune in her head. So you might be wondering where you can hear her musical talent. In 2009 she released her debut album Leave It All Behind. Edelman’s sound is a blend of The Cranberries, Evanescence and Paramore, both musically and vocally.
The songs on Leave It All Behind are about leaving things about her life behind – the former band music life, or people in the past who have told her she can’t do something.
“People said to me that I can’t do that. I wanted to prove them wrong. That’s the stuff that’s always pushed me, too. I’m going to prove them wrong. I was a girl surfer when it wasn’t a big thing. But it was something I was so passionate about. That was one of the things I was really just so in love with. That’s all I did all summer long in middle school and high school. I was out there all day long.”
I can relate to her drive; when you are passionate about something you don’t stop. When naysayers express discouragement, it almost makes you want to follow your path even more with resilience and strength.
“Everything I do centers around hard work, perseverance, motivation, and dedication coupled with supporting others when it comes to the entertainment aspect of myself. Nothing has come easy for me and everything I have accomplished, I have done on my own,” says Edelman.
Her combination of brains and beauty allows her to balance the seriousness of her career as a forensic psychologist and her academic accomplishments such as graduating with high honors with a doctorate degree in clinical psychology from Loyola University in Maryland, with the exciting world of entertainment and music.
Right now Edelman is focusing more on studio work as a solo artist and will be doing featured artist work with some national bands, but she isn’t able to release the information at this time as the scheduling is still in the works.
“It’s hard to find people who are motivated and have the same pride and dedication as you. People have jobs, and people are married, so it’s hard to find those who want the same exact thing. I was finding it more interesting and stimulating to do things on my own. So that’s why I started pursuing my radio show. People think that this is a glamorous lifestyle. I did all of my managing and promoting, and in reality I’m working hard. I was living and breathing this [the music business]. I couldn’t personally keep up with it.”
“If I had the right people with the same drive and ideas that I had, I could do it. But the issue is I learned this isn’t really what I wanted. When you are in the trenches by yourself, you ask yourself if you really want this lifestyle. I’m not a partier. I’ve never done drugs or drank in my life. Living on a tour bus – I don’t know if I could do it. I know myself, and I know what my strengths are and the areas I need to grow in as a person. I would need my own quiet space. I love being around people but I need to have my own time and be independent and have my own thing,” she explains.
As a part of discovering who she was and what she wanted, she started The Kerri Edelman Show and has been broadcasting for a year and a half on radio. With music and entertainment in her blood, she’s also undertaken her first role as an executive producer for a web series called “We Approved This Message?” It was a comedic series of absurd campaign ads that starred the most recognizable Barack Obama impersonator, Reggie Brown, and comedian Mike Cote as Mitt Romney.
and comedian Mike Cote as Mitt Romney that Kerri Edelman helped produce.
The series was written and produced by two former staff writers for The Tonight Show, Jim Shaughnessy and Richard Marcus, and by Jerrod Cardwell, a writer for George Lopez, Arsenio Hall and numerous national touring standup comedians. Jim Shaughnessy, Richard Marcus and Kerri Edelman worked together as executive producers.
“There were a bunch of people working on it. I met Jim Shaughnessy on my radio show. He was the creator of this series and is a former writer of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. It’s really funny stuff. It’s comical satire making fun of the different candidates, having fun and doing some comedy. I’ve really gotten involved with comedy because it’s helped me with my own frustrations in my life, and I just love to laugh.”
Edelman is very comfortable with behind-the-scenes television work, too.
“I love to get involved with TV and film, not necessarily as an actor, but developing characters and personalities. I found that I like doing voice over work. I’ve done a couple commercials. I was a zombie voice and a creepy baby doll voice for a company called “Creepy Collections”. They do all of the things for haunted houses and creepy things.”
When Edelman told me she is known for a creepy little girl movie voice, I had to ask how she deals with the fame for making the hairs stand up on the back of people’s necks.
“I laugh at that. I say, ‘Ok thanks!’ I had a fun time doing it.”
She definitely has a sense of humor about it.
“I would love to be a voice over cartoon character,” Edelman continued.
Speaking of cartoons, there’s another big project she is working on with Richard Sirgiovanni. Sirgiovanni is the is the creator of an original animated kids rock n’ roll TV series called The Grimps. As it states on the website: The Grimps is a new phenomenon in children’s animation coming soon as a TV series and major motion picture. Definitely cool.
“I’m going to be working with him and I get to do the voice of an animated character! This is in development and I’m looking forward to working with him,” she enthusiastically promotes.
“We are planning to get in the studio soon to start recording and developing the sound of the band. My intention is to present The Grimps to the public as a legitimate rock band besides the show. Jack Douglas will be producing the music in the studio. Jack is a Grammy award winning producer who has worked with Cheap Trick, John Lennon and Aerosmith to name a few. Jack just produced Aerosmith’s latest album,” says Sirgiovanni.
Well, that’s certainly a lot of star power behind that production.
In Kerri Edelman’s “spare time”, she is a contributing writer for Talent Spotlight Magazine and Really Great Magazine. She also continues to write song lyrics and is part of irocktv.co - a website for independent artists. Her song “Vanilla Skies” is currently used in the commercial promotion of Flirt Energy Drink, too.
“I’m so selfless in terms I always want to help people, but this is hard work. This is not something you can do once, and stuff just happens. I write about marketing and promoting and include psychology so people can avoid being manipulated in the industry. Relationships and the dynamics of people are so important to hopefully get more opportunities,” she speaks of how her background in clinical and forensic psychology even helps her in the entertainment industry. Who knew!
“I’m not the person who is the kind to leave my job and do something random. I do love my job in the clinical and forensic psychology world, and I like the challenge of figuring out what’s going on with people.”
Edelman’s future aspirations include becoming involved in a TV project or collaborating with a nationally-known band.
“…not to go on the road, but to have a band feature me so I can still have my job and ‘get my fix’. Your past leads you to really interesting roads that you thought you might never venture down,” she shares.
To those aspiring to get their own “fix” in life, Edelman recommends, “You have to try everything and anything. You just never know what you may really like.”
You can also download Leave It All Behind on iTunes.
To see what’s happing with The Grimps, check them out on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter @TheGrimps.
This blog was also published via Patch Media at the above links.