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St. Louis Musician Eldraco Price Expresses Himself At His Fullest On His Debut Project

Eldraco Price releases his debut EP, "Free Love," today. He wrote the music for the five-song collection over the past few years.
Josh Tyler
Eldraco Price releases his debut EP, "Free Love," today. He wrote the music for the five-song collection over the past few years.

St. Louis-based musician Eldraco Price woke up to unexpected news last summer when he learned that his 2020 single, “Mallori (I See You),” was the winner of the John Lennon Stuck at Home song contest, a prestigious accolade that recognizes lyricism and musicianship from artists all over the world. It was a big moment for the 26-year-old who hadn’t even released a full body of music yet.

The song captures Price’s candid storytelling capabilities. It's the first single from his debut solo project, “Free Love,” an EP being released today. Price said receiving the award was momentous, especially for a song that highlights a traumatic moment in his life.

“'Mallori' is about domestic abuse,” Price said. “It was written as much for myself as it was for my mother, as it was for my grandmother, as it was for several women that I know in my life who have experienced domestic abuse, who has experienced sexual abuse, as I have.”

Price wrote the song with a high-energy fervor. He wrote and arranged the songs on the record, along with brass arranger Cody Henry. The songs features live instrumentation, backing vocals inspired by funk, jazz, pop, soul and rock.

His music tells personal stories, some of pain, some of perseverance and some of love.

“I want whatever the song is trying to communicate, or whatever energy the song is giving, I want that to be something that is honed,” Price said. “My stage presence is wild and chaotic, but it is not undeveloped, there is intention.”

Price combines live instrumentation, stage presence and showmanship to give listeners the complete picture of who he is: an expressive artist who wants listeners to actually visualize his music.

“In a great many of my songs I'm writing, I am simultaneously either thinking about the visual component for a music video, or the visual component of what I’d like that to look like onstage,” Price said. “That goes into the writing. It's like, 'Oh well, then the music needs to do this.'”

Price’s work focuses on social commentary that also reflects on race, identity and queerness. The messages come together in his live shows. You can also see it his music videos, including the one for “Be Woke.”

The visuals feature him and background performers dancing. The video also shows news footage from the past year in response to Black Lives Matter.

Price’s love of theater and music started with the rich music history of the Black church. His father was a preacher at Lane Tabernacle CME Church in north St. Louis, where Price started singing in the choir. He performed in church and school plays, developing a knack for theater and performance arts.

Price’s skills in theater and performing developed extensively at Webster University where he studied theater. But he changed his major to jazz vocal performance and learned how to arrange music.

St. Louis musician Daniel Mehrmann started working with Price in 2018. The two co-produced all of the music on the five-song collection. Price would come to Mehrmann with ideas for songs, and Mehrmann would find the musicians to help craft Price’s sound.

“I think that's what I like about this EP,” Mehrmann said. “There are a lot of different looks for Eldraco, and we kind of just want to see what people respond to. There's everything.

"The sounds reflect Price’s background and the music he grew up with.”

The EP will lead into Price’s debut album, which he plans to release next year. Price wants people who hear his new music to know the importance of staying true to themselves. It's his lyrics about self-expression that he wants listeners to take from his music.

“My tagline that I always say is live free, love free, be free,” Price said. “I think it's important to allow yourself to live in your own truth and to love yourself so you. You can love somebody else, and I think the world will be better for it.”

Follow Chad on Twitter: @iamcdavis

Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.