On October 12, Todd Simpson and Ryan Ollard will continue the Singer/Songwriter series “Local Sounds” at CEPA.
Remarkably, Todd Simpson has spent the last three years playing over 400 shows, from small towns in the Mississippi Delta to the world famous Whisky A-Go-Go.
It was discovered at birth that Todd had a severe heart defect requiring two open heart surgeries, the first when he was only days old. One of Todd’s biggest issues was the inability to swallow or eat, he spent almost four years on a feeding tube. Todd was diagnosed with Variant DiGeorge Syndrome with severe immune deficiency when he was 9 years old, requiring monthly IV treatments that he continues to this day.
Perhaps the most amazing part of Todd’s story is that when he was 18 years old he picked up the guitar for the first time after watching a “Jimi Hendrix” video and played it as if he had been playing for years. He knows no notes, he sees colors when he plays, he describes it as, playing the colors, he never plays a song the same way because he said he never sees the colors exactly the same.
Although Todd has a speech impediment, he sings without one. Perhaps because of his struggles he champions others who have to overcome huge obstacles. Todd has spoken at many schools and one-on-one with many young people trying to get his message out, being different is okay. Todd has been blessed to be able to share his music with so many people.
Music has allowed Todd to experience so many wonderful things. He has been able to share bills with many major artists that he grew up admiring. He also appeared in the movie “Lifted”, where he plays himself and performs two of his original songs.
Ryan Ollard was born and raised in Knoxville, TN. Growing up he was more of an outdoor enthusiast and never interested in playing music. “I always listened to music, even sang with a few bands in high school, but didn’t pick up a guitar until I turned 27 years-old. That day changed my life forever.”
In 2005, Ryan and his family were relocated to Pell City, Alabama. He continued his passion for playing and writing music. In 2009, he led worship for four years at the Pell City First United Methodist Church. While there, he attended a man’s retreat called the Emmaus Walk where he met Keith Rogers. Keith heard Ryan play and invited him to make a Christian album in Nashville, Tennessee. Ryan called up his buddies from Roddy Branch and with his wife Carrie singing harmony, the making of the album “The Walk” began. “An amazing opportunity presented itself. I had a short time period to write seven songs but God spoke to me through my experience at the Emmaus Walk and in two weeks I was able to put into words the transformation I felt during that weekend.”
Ryan’s passion was passed along to his daughter Chloe when she gained interest in learning piano. Her teacher was Jamison Taylor a local musician from Pell City. It didn’t take long for Ryan and Jamison to figure out they had a lot in common. They got together to play music often and from 2015-2016 they formed the local band Iron City Pickers.
Ryan currently lives in Pell City with his wife, daughter, and son Wyatt. He continues to lead worship at Faith Community Fellowship where he calls his church home.
Tickets are $7 prior to the event. On the day of the event, tickets will be sold at the door for $10.
To purchase tickets, visit pellcitycepa.com/tickets. You can also call the center at (205) 332-1961 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on weekdays or visit us during the same times at our office next to Pell City High School (25 Williamson Drive, Pell City, AL 35125).