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a1101_barbara_dane_03Barbara Dane (born May 12, 1927) is an American folk, blues, and jazz singer.

"Bessie Smith in stereo," wrote jazz critic Leonard Feather in the late 1950s. Time said of Dane: "The voice is pure, rich … rare as a 20 karat diamond" and quoted Louis Armstrong’s exclamation upon hearing her at the Pasadena jazz festival: "Did you get that chick? She’s a gasser!"

Career as singer

Moving to San Francisco in 1949, Dane began raising her own family and singing her folk and topical songs around town as well as on radio and television. A jazz revival was then shaking the town, and by the 1950s she became a familiar figure at clubs along the city’s Embarcadero with her own versions of women’s blues and jazz tunes. New Orleans jazz musicians like George Lewis and Kid Ory and locals like Turk Murphy, Burt Bales, Bob Mielke and others invited her onto the bandstand regularly. Her first professional jazz job was with Turk Murphy at the Tin Angel in 1956.

a1101_barbara_dane_01To Ebony, she seemed "startlingly blonde, especially when that powerful dusky alto voice begins to moan of trouble, two-timing men and freedom … with stubborn determination, enthusiasm and a basic love for the underdog, [she is] making a name for herself … aided and abetted by some of the oldest names in jazz who helped give birth to the blues." The seven-page Ebony article was filled with photos of Dane working with Memphis Slim, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Clara Ward, Mama Yancey, Little Brother Montgomery and others.

By 1959, Louis Armstrong had asked Time magazine readers: "Did you get that chick? She’s a gasser!" and invited her to appear with him on national television. She appeared with Louis Armstrong on the Timex All-Star Jazz Show hosted by Jackie Gleason on January 7, 1959. She toured the East Coast with Jack Teagarden, appeared in Chicago with Art Hodes, Roosevelt Sykes, Little Brother Montgomery, Memphis Slim, Otis Spann, Willie Dixon and others, played New York with Wilbur De Paris and his band, and appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson as a solo guest artist. Other national TV work included The Steve Allen Show, Bobby Troop’s Stars of Jazz, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

In 1961, the singer opened her own club, Sugar Hill: Home of the Blues, on San Francisco’s Broadway in the North Beach district, with the idea of creating a venue for the blues in a tourist district where a wider audience could hear it. There Dane performed regularly with her two most constant musical companions: Kenny "Good News" Whitson on piano and cornet and Wellman Braud, former Ellington bassist. Among her guest artists were Jimmy Rushing, Mose Allison, Mama Yancey, Tampa Red, Lonnie Johnson, Big Mama Thornton, Lightnin’ Hopkins, T-Bone Walker, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry.

In her speech to the GI Movement of the Vietnam War Era (whose text can be found in the booklet that’s included in Paredon Records’ FTA! Songs of the GI Resistance vinyl album of 1970), Barbara Dane said, "I was too stubborn to hire one of the greed-head managers, probably because I’m a woman who likes to speak for herself. I always made my own deals and contracts, and after figuring out the economics of it, I was free to choose when and where I worked, able to spend lots more time with my three children and doing political work, and even brought home more money in the end, by not going for the "bigtime." I did make some really nice records, because I was able to choose and work with wonderfully gifted musicians."

Political activism

She continued to weave in appearances as a solo performer on the coffeehouse circuit with her folk-style guitar. She also stepped up her work in the movements for peace and justice as the struggle for civil rights spread and the Vietnam war escalated. She sang at peace demonstrations in Washington, D.C. and throughout the US and toured anti-war GI coffeehouses all over the world. In 1966, Barbara Dane became the first U.S. musician to tour post-revolutionary Cuba.

In 1970 Dane founded Paredon Records, a label specializing in international protest music. She produced 45 albums, including three of her own, over a 12-year period. The label was later incorporated into Smithsonian-Folkways, a label of the Smithsonian Institution, and is available through their catalog.

In 1978, Dane appeared with Pete Seeger at a Rally in New York for striking coal miners.

Blues singer and role model

When she was in her late 70s, Philip Elwood, jazz critic of the San Francisco Examiner, said of her: "Dane is back and beautiful…she has an immense voice, remarkably well-tuned…capable of exquisite presentations regardless of the material. As a gut-level blues singer she is without compare." Blues writer Lee Hildebrand calls her "…perhaps the finest living interpreter of the classic blues of the 20’s." In a 2010 profile on Barbara produced by Steven Short of KALW in San Francisco, Bonnie Raitt said "she’s always been a role model and a hero of mine – musically and politically. I mean, the arc of her life so informs mine that – she’s – I really can’t think of anyone I admire [more], the way that she’s lived her life." The interview is archived on the KALW website.

Text from Wikipedia 

 

Barbara Dane – Livin’ with the Blues – 1959 – The whole LP

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a1042_abbie gardner_01

Best known as one-third of the female harmony Americana trio Red Molly, Abbie has listened to the sweet sound of high lonesome harmonies since her first bluegrass festival at three years old. Her father, Herb Gardner, is a swing jazz and stride pianist and dixieland trombonist. He introduced Abbie to one of her favorite vocalists, Billie Holiday, and continues to be a big influence on a1042_abbie gardner_03the musician she is and strives to be.

Abbie studied classical flute growing up, but once she started playing Dobro in 2004 she found her main instrument. She traveled to Lyons, CO and Nashville, TN to study with Rob Ickes and Sally Van Meter. Left to her own devices, without many Dobro influences near NYC, Abbie continues to develop her style by listening to other instrumentalists, such as David Rawlings, Ry Cooder and Bonnie Raitt. Always keen on following the vocal part and trying to find the one really perfect note, instead of a dozen okay ones, Abbie is quickly compiling an extensive discography of recording credits.

She recorded three full-length albums and one EP with Red Molly, the last of which spent several weeks in the Top 10 on the Radio & Records Americana Chart (Spring 2010).   In 2008, She released Bad Nights/Better Days a duo record of original material with Anthony da Costa. The album was featured on WFUV’s top 2008 album lists and has been described as a work of staggering emotional power. (Acoustic Live! in NYC, 2008)

 

Abbie’s first full-length recording, My Craziest Dream is an album of jazz standards featuring her father on piano. It earned her an entry in the 2009 Hal Leonard book The Jazz Singers: The Ultimate Guide and she continues to perform with her father, whenever possible.

Abbie has a strong throaty voice that’s reminiscent of Wesla Whitfield’s… she uses it to render evergreens from the 1920s and 1930s with a crew of guys who play like they were around when this music was the cat’s pajamas.  (Cadence Magazine, June 2004)

Her 2006 release Honey on My Grave was her first independently released CD of mostly original music spanning varied genres with consistently strong Dobro, guitar, and vocal performances.  (Chronogram, 2006)

Abbie has been recognized as an award-winning songwriter, as well, with such accolades as; 2008 Lennon Award Winner (folk) for “The Mind of a Soldier” and 2008 American Songwriter Magazine Grand Prize Lyric Winner for “I’d Rather Be”. Her song “Honey on My Grave” was also published in Sing Out! Magazine in 2008.

Abbie continues to tour with Red Molly, currently promoting their third full-length CD James.   Her latest solo CD “Hope” will be released in April 2011.  It features 8 new original songs, 3 covers and three different types of slide!  See the shows page for updates on the CD release tour with Craig Akin on upright bass and Abbie on dobro & National Steel guitar.

In Context

Red Molly is a folk trio consisting of Laurie MacAllister (vocals, guitar, banjo), Abbie Gardner (vocals, guitar, Dobro, lap steel guitar), and Molly Venter (vocals, guitar). They perform original works composed by each of the group members, as well as covers of other songwriters including Hank Williams, Gillian Welch, Mark Erelli, and Ryan Adams. Their fans are known as “Redheads.

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History

Red Molly was formed late one night at the 2004 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. MacAllister, Gardner, and Carolann Solebello, three solo singer-songwriters, were the last ones left at a song circle. They liked the way they sounded together and decided to form a band. The name Red Molly is taken from a character in the Richard Thompsonsong “1952 Vincent Black Lightning.”

Their career started to take off in 2006. They were the top vote getters in the 2006 Falcon Ridge Folk FestivalEmerging Artist Showcase. WUMB in Boston named them Top New Artist of the Year and picked their AlbumNever Been to Vegas as one of their Top Albums of 2006. They have appeared in John Platt’s Under the Radar series in New York, a showcase for up and coming musicians.

In 2007 they toured with Pat Wictor and Ellis, the other winners of the Falcon Ridge Emerging Artist showcase, on the Falcon Ridge Preview tour and performed with them in the Most Wanted Song Swap at the Festival itself.

Their album Love and Other Tragedies reached number 15 on the Americana Charts on June 30, 2008. James reached number 4 on the same chart in May 2010. Light In The Sky was released on October 4, 2011.

On June 15, 2010 Red Molly announced that Carolann Solebello would be leaving the group and replaced by Molly Venter. On July 24 Solebello announced to the crowd at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival it was her last show with the band and concluded: “I know about 75% of you by face, and I wanted my last show to be with my friends here at Falcon Ridge, not at some small club in some country I didn’t know anybody.” Solebello continues to perform as a solo artist and released her third solo album “Threshold”, in June 2011.

Molly Venter’s debut with the trio was on August 6, 2010 at the Lunenburg Folk Festival.

Text from abbiegardner.com & Wikipedia

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a1018_nancy wilson_01

Nancy Wilson (born February 20, 1937) is an American singer with more than 70 albums, and three Grammy Awards. She has been labeled a singer of blues, jazz, cabaret and pop; a "consummate actress"; and "the complete entertainer." The title she prefers, however, is song stylist. She has received many nicknames including "Sweet Nancy", "The Baby", "Fancy Miss Nancy" and "The Girl With the Honey-Coated Voice".

Career

When Wilson met Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, he suggested that she should move to New York City, believing that the big city would be the venue in which her career could bloom. In 1959, she relocated to New York with a goal of obtaining Cannonball’s a1018_nancy wilson_04manager John Levy as her manager and Capitol Records as her label. Within four weeks of her arrival in New York she got her first big break, a call to fill in for Irene Reid at "The Blue Morocco". The club booked Wilson on a permanent basis; she was singing four nights a week and working as a secretary for the New York Institute of Technology during the day. John Levy sent demos of "Guess Who I Saw Today", "Sometimes I’m Happy", and two other songs to Capitol. Capitol Records signed her in 1960.

Wilson’s debut single, "Guess Who I Saw Today", was so successful that between April 1960 and July 1962 Capitol Records released five Nancy Wilson albums. Her first album, Like in Love, displayed her talent in Rhythm and Blues, with the hit R&B song "Save Your Love for Me." Adderley suggested that she should steer away from her original pop style and gear her music toward jazz and ballads. In 1962, they collaborated, producing the album Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley, which propelled her to national prominence, and Wilson would later appear on Adderley’s live album In Person (1968). Between March 1964 and June 1965, four of Wilson’s albums hit the Top 10 on Billboards Top LPs chart. In 1963 "Tell Me The Truth" became her first truly major hit, leading up to her performance at the Coconut Grove in 1964 – the turning point of her career, garnering critical acclaim from a1018_nancy wilson_02coast to coast. TIME said of her, "She is, all at once, both cool and sweet, both singer and storyteller." In 1964 Wilson released what became her most successful hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with "(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am", which peaked at No. 11. From 1963 to 1971 Wilson logged eleven songs on the Hot 100, including two Christmas singles. However, "Face It Girl, It’s Over" was the only remaining non-Christmas song to crack the Top 40 for Wilson (#29, in 1968).

After making numerous television guest appearances, Wilson eventually got her own series on NBC, The Nancy Wilson Show (1967–1968), which won an Emmy.Over the years she has appeared on many popular television shows from I Spy (more or less playing herself as a Las Vegas singer in the 1966 episode "Lori," and a similar character in the 1973 episode "The Confession" of The F.B.I.), Room 222, Hawaii Five-O, Police Story, The Jack Paar Program, The Sammy Davis, Jr. Show (1966), The Danny Kaye Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Kraft Music Hall, The Sinbad Show, The Cosby Show, The Andy Williams Show, The Carol Burnett Show, Soul Food, New York Undercover, and recently Moesha, and The Parkers. She also appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Merv Griffith Show,The Tonight Show, The Arsenio Hall Show and The Flip Wilson Show. She was in the 1993 Robert Townsend‘s The Meteor Man and in the film, The Big Score. She also appeared on The Lou Rawls Parade of Stars and the March of Dime Telethon. She was signed by Capitol records in the late 1970s and in an attempt to broaden her appeal she cut the album Life, Love and Harmony, an album of soulful, funky dance cuts that included the track "Sunshine", which was to become one of her most sought-after recordings (albeit among supporters of the rare soul scene with whom she would not usually register). In 1977 she recorded the theme song for the The Last Dinosaur, a made for TV movie which opened in theaters in Japan.

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In the 1980s, she recorded five albums for Japanese labels because she preferred recording live, and American labels frequently did not give her that option. She gained such wide popularity that she was selected as the winner of the annual Tokyo Song Festivals.

In 1982 she recorded with Hank Jones and the Great Jazz Trio. In that same year she recorded with Griffith Park Band whose members included Chick Corea and Joe Henderson. In 1987 she participated in a PBS show entitled Newport Jazz ‘87 as the singer of a jazz trio with John Williams and Roy McCurdy.

a1018_nancy wilson_06In 1982 she also signed with CBS, her albums here including The Two of Us (1984), duets with Ramsey Lewis produced by Stanley Clarke; Forbidden Lover (1987), including the title-track duet with Carl Anderson; and A Lady with a Song, which became her 52nd album release in 1989. In 1989 Nancy Wilson in Concert played as a television special.

In the early 1990s, Wilson recorded an album paying tribute to Johnny Mercer with co-producer Barry Manilow entitled With My Lover Beside Me. In this decade she also recorded two other albums, Love, Nancy and her sixtieth album If I Had it My Way. In the late 1990s, she teamed up with MCG Jazz, a youth-education program of the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, nonprofit, minority-directed, arts and learning organization located in Pittsburgh, PA.

In 1995, Wilson performed at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the San Francisco Jazz Festival in 1997. In 1999, she hosted a show in honor of Ella Fitzgerald entitled Forever Ella on the A & E Network.

All the proceeds from 2001’s A Nancy Wilson Christmas went to support the work of MCG Jazz. Wilson was the host on NPR‘s Jazz Profiles, from 1996 to 2005. This series profiled the legends and legacy of jazz through music, interviews and commentary. Wilson and the program were the recipients of the George Foster Peabody Award in 2001.

Wilson’s second and third album with MCG Jazz, R.S.V.P. (Rare Songs, Very Personal) (2005), and Turned to Blue (2007), both won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album.

Awards and honors

In 1964, Wilson won her first Grammy Award for the best rhythm and blues recording for the album How Glad I Am. She was featured as a "grand diva" of jazz in a 1992 edition of Essence. In the same year, she also received the Whitney Young, Jr. Award from the Urban League. In 1998, she was a recipient of the Playboy Reader Poll Award for best jazz vocalist.

a1018_nancy wilson_07In 1986, she was dubbed the Global Entertainer of the Year by the World Conference of Mayors. She received an award from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in 1993; the NAACP Image Award – Hall of Fame Award in 1998, and was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1999. She received the Trumpet Award for Outstanding Achievement in 1994. Wilson received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1990, at 6541 Hollywood Blvd. She received honorary degrees from the Berklee School of Music and Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. Wilson has a street named after her in her hometown of Chillicothe, Ohio. She co-founded the Nancy Wilson Foundation, which exposes inner-city children to the country.

Wilson was the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), NEA Jazz Masters Fellowships award in 2004, the highest honors that the United States government bestows upon jazz musicians. In 2005 she received the NAACP Image Awards for Best Recording Jazz Artist. She received the 2005 UNCF Trumpet Award celebrating African-American achievement, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP in Chicago, and Oprah Winfrey‘s Legends Award.

In September 2005, Wilson was inducted on the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. Wilson was a major figure incivil rights marches of the 1960s. Wilson said, "This award means more to me than anything else I have ever received."

Times.com, August 20, 2006: "It’s been a long career for the polished Wilson, whose first albums appeared in the 1960s, and she faces that truth head-on in such numbers as ‘These Golden Years’ and ‘I Don’t Remember Ever Growing Up’. Shorter breathed these days, she can still summon a warm, rich sound and vividly tell a song’s story. With a big band behind her in ‘Taking a Chance on Love‘, she also shows there’s plenty of fire in her autumnal mood".

At the Hollywood Bowl, August 29, 2007, Wilson celebrated her 70th birthday with an all-star event hosted by Arsenio Hall. Ramsey Lewis and his trio performed "To Know Her Is To Love Her".

Text from Wikipedia 

Nancy Wilson + Carl Anderson at the Carnegie Hall (complete)

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995_mable john_01Mable John (born November 3, 1930) is an American blues vocalist and was the first female signed by Berry Gordy to Motown’s Tamla label.

Biography

John was born in Bastrop, Louisiana. At a very young age, she and her parents moved to north across the state-line into Arkansas where her father got a job in a paper mill near the community of Cullendale. There four brothers (including R&B singer Little Willie John) and two sisters were born. In 1941, after her father was able to secure a better job, the family moved to Detroit, where two additional brothers were born. The family lived in a new housing development at Six Mile and Dequindre Road. She attended Cleveland Intermediate School, and then Pershing High School, which is at Seven Mile and Ryan Road. After graduating from Pershing High School, she took a job as an insurance representative at Friendship Mutual Insurance Agency, a company run by Berry Gordy‘s mother, Bertha. Later, she left the company and spent two years at Lewis Business College. She subsequently ran 995_mable john_02into Mrs. Gordy again, who told Mable that her son Berry was writing songs and was looking for people to record them. Gordy began coaching her and would accompany John on piano at local engagements. This continued until 1959, when John performed at the Flame Show bar on John R Street at the last show that Billie Holiday did in Detroit, just weeks before Holiday’s death.

The same year, John began recording for Gordy. First she was signed to United Artists, but nothing was released there. Eventually, she became one of the first artists signed to Tamla, Gordy’s own label. In 1960, she released her first Tamla single, "Who Wouldn’t Love a Man Like That?," a romantic blues number, to no success. John followed with "No Love" in June of that year and then with "Actions Speak Louder Than Words" by year’s end. While Motown was beginning to have success with acts like The Miracles and The Marvelettes (and later The Supremes, who had sung background vocals for John) that appealed to teenagers and young adults, it failed to make an impact in the established blues market. As a result, Gordy soon thinned out his roster of early blues artists. While John continued to be used as a background singer, Gordy dissolved her contract in 1962.

After leaving Motown, John spent several years as a Raelette, backing many Ray Charles hits. In 1966 she attempted a solo career again, signing with Stax Records. Her first single with the label was "Your Good Thing Is About To End." The song peaked at #6 on the R&B chart, and even managed to cross over onto pop radio, peaking at #95 there. She released six more singles for the label, none of which captured her first single’s success. After leaving Stax Records in 1968, John rejoinedThe Raelettes for several years. She left secular music in 1973, and began managing Christian gospel acts, occasionally returning to the studio as a singer.

John received a Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1994. She appeared in John Sayles‘ 2007 movie Honeydripper.


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960_MamieSmithMamie Smith (née Robinson) (May 26, 1883 – September 16, 1946) was an American vaudeville singer, dancer, pianist and actress, who appeared in several films late in her career. As a vaudeville singer she performed a number of styles, including jazz and blues. She entered blues history by being the first African-American artist to make vocal blues recordings in 1920. Willie "The Lion" Smith (no relation) explained the background to that recording in his autobiography,Music on My Mind

Musical career

On August 10, 1920, in New York City, Smith recorded a set of songs written by the African-American songwriter Perry Bradford, including "Crazy Blues" and "It’s Right Here For You (If You Don’t Get It, ‘Tain’t No Fault of Mine)", on Okeh Records. It was the first recording of vocal blues by an African-American artist, and the record became a best seller, selling a million copies in less than a year. To the surprise of record companies, large numbers of the record were purchased by African Americans, and there was a sharp increase in the popularity of race records. Because of the historical significance of "Crazy Blues", it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1994, and, in 2005, was selected for permanent preservation in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress.

Although other African Americans had been recorded earlier, such as George W. Johnson in the 1890s, they were African-American artists performing music which had a substantial following with European-American audiences. The success of Smith’s record prompted record companies to seek to record other female blues singers and started the era of what is now known as classic female blues. It also opened up the music industry to recordings by, and for, African Americans in other genres.

Smith continued to make a series of popular recordings for Okeh throughout the 1920s. In 1924 she made three releases for Ajax Records which, while heavily promoted, did not sell well. She also made some records for Victor. She toured the United States and Europe with her band "Mamie Smith & Her Jazz Hounds" as part of "Mamie Smith’s Struttin’ Along Review". She was billed as "The Queen of the Blues". This billing of Mamie Smith was soon one-upped by Bessie Smith, who called herself "The Empress of the Blues." And like Bessie did, Mamie too found that the new mass medium of radio provided a way to gain additional fans, especially in cities with predominantly white audiences. For example, she and several members of her band performed on KGW in Portland OR in early May 1923, and she earned very positive reviews.

Various recording lineups of her Jazz Hounds included (from August 1920 to October 1921) Jake Green, Curtis Moseley, Garvin Bushell, Johnny Dunn, Dope Andrews, Ernest Elliot, Porter Grainger, Leroy Parker, Bob Fuller, and (June 1922-January 1923) Coleman Hawkins, Everett Robbins, Johnny Dunn, Herschel Brassfield, Herb Flemming, Buster Bailey Cutie Perkins, Joe Smith, Bubber Miley and Cecil Carpenter.

While recording with her Jazz Hounds, she also recorded as "Mamie Smith and Her Jazz Band", comprising George Bell, Charles Matson, Nathan Glantz, Larry Briers,Jules Levy, Jr., Joe Samuels, together with musicians from the Jazz Hounds, including Coleman, Fuller and Carpenter.

Film career and later years

Mamie Smith appeared in an early sound film, Jailhouse Blues, in 1929. She retired from recording and performing in 1931. She returned to performing in 1939 to appear in the motion picture Paradise in Harlem produced by her husband Jack Goldberg. She appeared in further films, including Mystery in Swing, Sunday Sinners(1940), Stolen Paradise (1941), Murder on Lenox Avenue (1941), and Because I Love You (1943). She died in 1946, in New York.

Text from Wikipedia 

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Man, What A Pair

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Muddy Waters & Howlin’ Wolf

Image found at beatnikdaddio

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