Extra blues-playin’ sisters tackle the strings and the frets


After I was 15 years outdated and in highschool in 1962, like lots of my associates, I listened to a large cross-section of music. Nonetheless, the sluggish tunes of blues-fed R&B have been the favourite dance tunes throughout these teenage years, fraught with love, crushes, heartaches, and heartbreaks. It’s no shock that Barbara Lynn’s hit “You’ll Lose a Good Factor” soared to the highest of the charts, although on the time it didn’t happen to me that she was taking part in the guitar—it was her lyrics and the deep-felt message to her boyfriend that struck a chord. She made it actually clear, no holds barred:

I am givin you yet one more likelihood, so that you can do proper
For those who’ll solely straighten up, we’ll have life
Trigger for those who ought to lose me, oh yeah, you may lose factor
That is my final time, not asking any extra
For those who do not do proper,I am gonna march outa that door

Right here she is performing her hit stay on The !!!! Beat, a 1966 syndicated tv present that includes R&B artists.

Steve Huey’s biography of Lynn, who not solely sang and performed the guitar left-handed extremely nicely, but in addition wrote a few of her personal songs, for AllMusic covers what was initially a brief profession:

Lynn was born Barbara Lynn Ozen in Beaumont, TX, on January 16, 1942; she performed the piano as a baby earlier than switching to guitar, impressed by Elvis Presley. In junior excessive, Lynn shaped her personal band. […] 

After profitable a couple of expertise reveals and taking part in some teen dances, the still-underage Lynn began working the native golf equipment and juke joints, risking getting kicked out of college if she had been found. Singer Joe Barry caught her stay act and really helpful her to his good friend, producer/impresario Huey P. Meaux, aka the Loopy Cajun.

Together with her dad and mom’ consent, Meaux introduced Lynn to New Orleans to file on the legendary Cosimo’s studio. Lynn minimize a couple of singles for the Jamie label with the understanding that if none hit, she was to attend faculty as an alternative of pursuing music proper off the bat. In 1962, her self-penned ballad “You will Lose a Good Factor” grew to become a nationwide hit, reaching the pop Prime Ten and climbing all the way in which to primary on the R&B charts. Her first album (of the identical identify) was additionally launched that 12 months, that includes ten of her originals amongst its 12 tracks. Lynn continued to file for Jamie up by way of 1965, producing follow-up R&B hits like “You are Gonna Want Me” and “Oh Child (We Received a Good Factor Goin’),” the latter of which was recorded by the Rolling Stones in 1965. In 1966, Lynn converted to Meaux’s Tribe label and minimize “You Left the Water Operating,” which grew to become one thing of an R&B commonplace and was lined by the likes of Otis Redding. In 1967, she signed with Atlantic and had one other R&B hit with “This Is the Thanks I Get” early the next 12 months; she additionally issued one other album, Right here Is Barbara Lynn, in 1968. Lynn scored one final hit for Atlantic in 1972’s “(Till Then) I am going to Undergo,” however by this level, she had a number of youngsters to fret about elevating; dissatisfied along with her promotion anyway, she wound up successfully retiring from the music enterprise for many of the ’70s and ’80s, although she did play the occasional low-key tour.

That might not be the tip of her story. Amelia Feathers picks up the following chapter in Lynn’s life for Blues Entry. The headline says all of it: Barbara Lynn Is Back in a Big Way:”

  “…when her youngsters grew up and her second husband died, the music inside her nonetheless burned to get out. She started taking part in once more and recorded a stay album, You Don’t Must Go (Ichiban), throughout a 1986 tour of Japan. She made a second album, So Good, for Bullseye Blues in 1994 and was the recipient of a Rhythm & Blues Basis Pioneer Award in 1999.

A visit to Austin within the late ’90s kick-started Ms. Lynn’s renewed musical quest and led Antone’s Data to file Sizzling Evening Tonight, which the file firm describes as “soulful blues bridging the hole between the previous and future and hip hop.”

Right here’s “Lynn’s Blues” from that album, which supplies you an incredible hearken to her guitar work.

2009 discovered Barbara Lynn & Mates performing Texas rhythm and blues for the Library of Congress, American Folklife Center Homegrown 2009 Concert Series.

On this brief clip from the I Am the Blues, the 2016 Canadian documentary movie, directed by Daniel Cross, Lynn demonstrates her left-handed fashion.

I’ll shut the musical a part of her story with this electrifying 2010 stay efficiency of “Wild Evening Tonight” in Texas on the Jazz + Blues Competition. Take it away, Miz Lynn!

Barbara Lynn is now 79 years outdated,; we not too long ago misplaced one other wonderful blueswoman from her period, Beverly Watkins, in 2019. Richard Sandomir wrote her New York Times obituary.

Beverly Watkins, a uncommon girl amongst blues guitarists, who cleaned houses when music didn’t pay her sufficient and didn’t file her first solo album till she was 60, died on Oct. 1 in Atlanta. She was 80. Her son and solely rapid survivor, Stanley Watkins, stated the trigger was a coronary heart assault that had been preceded by a stroke.

Ms. Watkins referred to as her music lowdown, stomping blues and complemented it with crowd-pleasing antics into her 70s — taking part in her electrical guitar on her again and behind her head, sliding throughout the stage. When she sang, it was typically with a growl. “She’d been doing all that because the late Nineteen Fifties, however she wasn’t a star as a result of she’d been a sideman most of her profession, taking part in with bands that didn’t have hits,” Brett J. Bonner, editor of Dwelling Blues journal, stated by cellphone. “She was a wonderful guitar participant.”

Ms. Watkins, who was typically billed as Beverly “Guitar” Watkins, adopted within the footsteps of girls like Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a gospel singer whose sensible electrical guitar taking part in helped affect rock ’n’ roll, and the blues singer, guitarist and songwriter Memphis Minnie. However even within the twenty first century, after having labored because the late Nineteen Fifties with the R&B star Piano Red, and with bands like Leroy Redding and the Houserockers and Eddie Tigner’s Ink Spots, she was one thing of an anomaly.

Take a hearken to what you could have missed.

AnalogPlanet editor Michael Fremer posted this obit and description of Watkins’ efficiency and his interview along with her:

79 12 months outdated Beverly “Guitar” Watkins, unknown to most within the viewers, places on a fiery, funky and fierce standing ovation hour-long efficiency on the primary night time of Chad Kassem’s “Blues on the Crossroads” Blues Competition Friday October twenty sixth.The Atlanta, Georgia native has had an extended, productive profession together with two profitable singles “Dr. Feelgood” and “Proper String However the Improper Yo-You” as a member of Piano Crimson and the Houserockers.

A later group during which she performed included Roy Lee Johnson, who composed “Mr. Moonlight” later popularized by The Beatles. You will hear Ms. Watkins cowl a really related sounding tune on this unimaginable set. She’s additionally labored with James Brown, B.B. King and Ray Charles and stays energetic. Watch her wonderful efficiency right here and keep in mind she’s 79 years younger! Whereas she performs a lot of it sitting down, when she stands and performs with the guitar behind her again you could end up standing and cheering whereas watching this in your pc. Everybody within the viewers did that too. AnalogPlanet editor Michael Fremer encountered Ms. Watkins within the resort eating room the following morning and requested how at 79 her palms stay so supple and her rhythmic drive and musical inventiveness stay so recent. “You gotta discover Jesus” she replied with absolutely the certainty that displayed on stage the earlier night.

Because the ranks of elder blueswomen skinny, we’re left with a query: What youthful Black girls are going to hold the custom ahead?

When Latonya Pennington wrote this op-ed for Afropunk, lamenting their loss, the highest photograph used for the story was Memphis Minnie, who I featured final week. Pennington additionally references Deborah Coleman’s “I’m a girl.”

Pennington critiqued the decidedly male bias within the enterprise, in addition to providing her ideas on Black girls who’ve carried the music ahead.

“I’m a girl/I can sing the blues/I’m a girl/I can flip outdated to new”. This lyric comes from “I’m a Girl”, among the finest identified songs by blues guitarist Deborah Coleman. Coleman has the excellence of being nominated for the W.C. Useful Blues Award 9 instances. She can be a rarity in blues music. A black girl taking part in the blues on guitar isn’t something new. Memphis Minnie was a pioneering black blues guitarist. Woman Bo performed backup to her boss Bo Diddley within the late 50’s. But with Woman Bo’s latest passing comes the information that there are too few residing black feminine blues guitarists[…]

For a black feminine blues listener like me, this may be problematic when some black male blues artists put out songs with misogynistic lyrics. In Robert Johnson’s “Me and The Satan’s Blues”, Johnson sings of beating his girl till he’s glad. In Bo Diddley’s “Crackin’ Up”, he tells his girl to cease complaining whereas likening her to an animal he’s caught and brought care of.

Whereas there isn’t a denying the affect of Robert Johnson or the late B.B. King in music, typically it may be vexing to must lookup the lyrics to their songs & wade by way of offensive tracks. It is usually disappointing to assume that Deborah Coleman might by no means get the identical recognition as her male counterparts.

I agree with Pennington’s grievance about misogynistic lyrics, that are all too frequent in each blues and up to date R&B, hip-hop, and rap. Not solely do girls get disrespected in lyrics, the trade as an entire relegates many sisters to second-class standing.

She speaks lovingly about taking part in Deborah Coleman, who sadly, we misplaced in 2018.

Her file label, Blind Pig, has Coleman’s bio, and a tribute that introduced her passing.

Coleman was born in Portsmouth, Virginia and raised in a music-loving army household that lived in San Diego, San Francisco, Bremerton, Washington, and the Chicago space. Together with her father taking part in piano, two brothers on guitar, and a sister who performs guitar and keyboards, Deborah felt pure with an instrument in her palms, selecting up guitar at age eight. At fifteen, she began to carry out with a sequence of rock and R&B bands. She began out as a bass participant, however after listening to Jimi Hendrix, switched to steer. Radio was an vital early affect. “Again then, the codecs of the radio stations have been extra various. I keep in mind listening to Joe Cocker, James Brown, Ray Charles and the Beatles on the identical station.” As her curiosity in guitar grew, she started listening to rock teams such because the Yardbirds, Cream, and Led Zeppelin, and adopted the roots of their music again to the blues. “Jeff Beck was considered one of my favorites,” she remembers. “I did not discover out till later that they have been doing blues tunes and I went to search out the unique artists.” A pivotal occasion for Deborah was a live performance she noticed when she was twenty-one that featured Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker all on the identical invoice. “I’ll always remember that present. It began me on a path to my roots.”

Coleman would acquire notoriety and demanding acclaim after releasing her first album I Can’t Lose in 1997, and would proceed to wow blues critics along with her second launch in 1998, of Where Blue Begins.

Watch her getting her groove on on the North Atlantic Blues Competition in Rockland, Maine, in 2007.

RIP Sister Coleman.

Her passing is just not the tip of the road. There might not be many new Black feminine blues guitarists on the market that we’re listening to about—but. However they do exist. So enable me to publish a little bit teaser since I’ve run out of house to provide them the total remedy.

Take a look at Austin, Texas, native, Jackie Venson, who began out as a classical pianist and now rocks the blues.

And reclaiming a blues into rock custom that has turn into an nearly unique venue of white males, rocking an upside-down guitar, meet Malina Moye.  

And final however not least, from the agricultural city of Gause,Texas, Ruthie Foster, winner of the 2019 Blues Basis’s Koko Taylor Award for Conventional Blues Feminine Artist.

I hope that these teasers moist your blues tastebuds, and also you’ll be part of me within the feedback part under for extra blues from sistas strokin’ these strings and frets.