with Joi and Julie Dexter at the Women's History Month Concert and Rough Language Poetry Slam. $20. Slam starts at 8:30 p.m. Concert starts at 10 p.m. Sat., March 28. 50 Upper Alabama St. 404-658-0068. Sugar Hill
Ericka Smith is two-faced. As Smith, she's a quiet, country girl. But as alter ego Eva Kennedy, she's a brassy diva who embraces the bold, vocal bombast of her idols Patti LaBelle and Aretha Franklin.
Though she'd been performing around Atlanta as Smith since high school, she decided to adopt the alter ego ("Eva for sexy, mysterious; Kennedy for controversy and scandal," she explains) during a night of partying in 2006 with friend Trina Meade of Three 5 Human. "I thought it was pretty cool right after I sobered up," she chuckles, "so I kept it."
As Kennedy, she delivers an in-your-face version of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," complete with sassy, speaker-busting screams, comparable to Janis Joplin. She doesn't let up on her original tunes, either. Backed by an eerie, Middle Eastern-influenced hip-hop beat, "MisFick" is a finger-wagging put down of a man-friend too full of himself.
But she also knows how to mellow out, as proven on "Best of It," a song Smith calls ’80s crossover pop. "I don't want to sit and listen to an album where I'm being screamed at all the time," she says, "and I definitely don't want to make one like that."
The leading lady received her first national touring experience singing back-up for Will Hoge from ’05-’06, and with Grammy-nominated Kelis in '06-'07.
While you can’t find any of her music on record yet, she's currently working on a tentative fall release that will feature the songs currently available on her MySpace page and more. With a working title of The Same Girl, it should get to the bottom of her split personality. "It's gonna utilize both Ericka and Eva," she says.
But that still doesn't solve the problem of what to call her. "Whatever you like," she says, laughing. "It's the same girl."