Dear Ms. Rodney.a.k.a. Chocolate Thunder the Southern Wonder,
Today is the last day of June in the year of 2014. I learned today via a great friend of mine and of yours that you have passed on from this life to the next. My heart has been heavy since I heard the news. I have always been a very humble person who tries to enjoy every second in the life I am in now. Upon hearing the news of your loss I have slowed down to milliseconds as the memories replay of the few times I was fortunate to see you play. I recall the first time I met and saw you was at a classic Tuesday night in Union, South Carolina along with Freddie Vanderford and Brandon Turner. I have never in my life seen someone capture an hour in time like you did that eventful evening. The entire crowd stopped messing around with phones, everyone’s eyes stared straight ahead, and your baited hook reeled in many believers along with fans for life
You were having fun singing with your friends and I recall you saying to the crowd about Freddie and Brandon that having them play the instruments so well made you a better singer. I am sure they felt the same and that the positive energy you were generating that night fueled them to be the best.
That voice that had lived the life in the songs you would sing was southern, bluesy, soul that was part Etta James, part Tina Turner, but all Linda Rodney. As a performer you had the ability to make us wanna clap our hands and praise the Lord, then move us to that long cry we had bottled up inside of ourselves. You were a force of nature on stage and it was all making sense now why you earned the moniker Chocolate Thunder. It was a hot summer night that would make you beg for your last breath outside but a storm of raw emotion of soul music was making a memory inside of Shady’s that night.
I was introduced to you after the show and asked to do a piece on you for Outlaw Magazine and we didn’t get to do it that night. I got your card and put in my wallet with hopes of getting it done soon. I saw you a few months later in Simpsonville with your band and you guys sounded great. You always had great musicians around you. I didn’t get to talk to you at that gig due to an issue at home I had to attend to. The next time it was my birthday last year at The Peach Festival in Gaffney, SC. I saw you before hand and said “We gotta get something on you today” and you replied “Oh we will baby, let’s do it after the show” with that energetic full of life smile. “I gotta go put my make up on and get ready for showtime!” was your next statement you said with a laugh as you went to your van to put on your make up thru the rear view mirror. It was a hot day and you had the air conditioner going and you would give me the nod every time I walked by.
During your time on stage I walked in the middle of the crowd after I grabbed some ice cold beers from the back and placed about four of them in my pockets. I went out to the crowd to hang with Deon Johnson who had just got finished wrestling for the day and was a huge fan of yours. “Thats my woman up there on stage Mater,” he said as danced to your music. I offered him a beer and we watched you perform as the rain started to come down, just a bit of sprinkle from the heavens to cool us off from a hot day.
That was the last time I saw you in this life and to hear of your passing has hit me hard. That damn cancer I tell you ain’t fair! Life is so short and it’s about the impact you leave here. You came from a rough upbringing and brought much joy to many hearts. I recall you saying to me once “My mama always told me, get up there and do it girl, don’t matter how ugly it seems or how bad you think it is, just do it with no regrets and whole heartedly!” That line has stuck with me. You touched many hearts here and heaven gained a very special angel today. We will miss you and thank you for your talents you gave to the world. That damn cancer robbed you of your time here. With that being said I have to put faith the Lord needed you in the next life. Prayers to your husband, family and bandmates. The house band in heaven sounds better than ever tonight. Save a seat for me when I get there.
Jason “Mater” Robinson
It’s time to go, I just wanna tell you, Jesus loves you and so do I, Good night everybody!”
-Linda “Chocolate Thunder” Rodney-
August 5, 1956 – June 30, 2014
We lost an immense talent. Blues is a music of the heart and the soul, and Linda had enough to fill this great state. In a time when the local music scene(s) feel impersonal and dwindling, Linda was a constant. She connected with everyone who had the joy of seeing her perform. It’s hard to think about someone so full of life dying. It’s hard enough to give you the blues. -Leigh Steinhouse (Musician)
What a loss, a powerful voice on stage and a kind lady off! I’ll miss the times that I would often run into her while she was out buying antiques. Loved all the talks, the music and the person. RIP, Linda Rodney. -William Lynn Armonaitis (fan)
She was full of life, always up. The kind of person that rubs off on you in a positive way. Then she opened her mouth and it was all over with… -Shane Pruitt (Musician)
A beautiful person inside & out… a great entertainer!!! -Freddie Vanderford (Musician)
I saw her at Fall For Greenville, with all the hype one came to expect… Crowd swelling, she’s fashionably late, the band is warming us up. The energy rose and rose, then here she comes, right? She’s wearing (female performers are always noticing!) this outfit covered in fringes, and she’s just shaking everything she’s got to keep that fringe flying! She’s fanning herself between songs, and just amazing us all. I just thought she was amazing. She never stopped dancing the entire set. -Donna Kay (Musician)
Jason Wallace Robinson hails from Spartanburg, South Carolina. He’s a writer, storyteller, philosopher, single father raising two children, music lover, dreamer, joker. He writes to speak for the Common Man. He enjoys football and driving around in his ’96 Chevy Lumina adorned with an American Flag and decorative bird offerings.
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