Essie was born in 1992 as Sarah Ellen Riddle in Hurricane, WV. She grew up to study music and special education at Marshall University in Huntington, WV. (Go Herd!) Most recently Essie earned her Master’s in Opera Performance at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ.
Essie was a nickname that found her once she started singing in the band “Essie & the Big Chill.” She soon came to love the variety of genres she was able to explore with this group. She developed her ability to sing funk, rock, jazz, reggae, and even rap all while studying opera full-time. Essie & the Big Chill have been fortunate enough to headline several large events including Triumph Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest and Halloween Celebrations. This year the Big Chill will be playing Princeton’s Communiversity, New Jersey’s largest and longest running cultural art festival!
Essie has been described as having “powerful vocals” paired with “high energy” performances. Most recently Dean Ween said “Essie has got a great voice […] and the Invitational finds another great singer for the house band….” Other’s have commented on her ability to sing such a variety of music from Poulenc to Zeppelin. On Saturday nights she can be found wailing with The Big Chill. The next morning she can be found singing sacred solo works for various churches.
When she is not performing Essie is writing her own music. She hopes to release her first EPs within coming year with the overall goal of completing her first solo album. It will be a mix of styles across genres to express and explore her vocal capabilities.