Palmer has said her mother, who died when Palmer was seven, "was a huge Patsy Cline fan", while her father loved musicians such as Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Chaka Khan, and Santana. Palmer said she knew from a young age that she wanted to sing. As a child, she sang on a Mickey Mouse Club-like local television show called Team 11. At age 16, she performed country music at the Arkansas State Fair. When she was 19, R&B producers James "Jimmy Jam" Harris III and Terry Lewis offered her a deal on their Flyte Tyme Records. Palmer rejected the deal because she said they wanted to turn her "twangy" country style into a "pop/soul hybrid." As she said, "I love R&B and urban music, but it wasn't what I wanted to do.
I knew I wouldn't be happy doing that." After that, Palmer sang jingles for Barbie commercials, performed on the Dance Fever television show, and competed on Star Search, all while trying in vain for seven years to land a Nashville recording contract. In 2006, Starbucks Entertainment distributed a four-song EP that put Palmer among the top 5 best-selling country artists on iTunes. Palmer was also featured in a 2005 Country Music Television documentary about African-Americans and country music. Palmer's debut album, Rissi Palmer, was released on October 23, 2007, by 1720 Entertainment. Palmer co-wrote nine of the 12 tracks. Read more on Last.fm.
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