May 2022 - Diunna Greenleaf & Trudy Lynn
For May we have chosen two artists who we feel keep the tradition of Blues music alive today. They are two Blues women from Houston, Texas, Diunna Greenleaf and Trudy Lynn. Both have new CD's worth your adding to your collection and both remind you of the value of this important African-American music genre.
Diunna Greenleaf, the leader of Blue Mercy, is a native Texan (Houston) who has a background steeped in gospel music. Influenced by the likes of Koko Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Rosetta Thorpe, Sam Cooke, Charles Brown and her own parents Ben & Mary Ella Greenleaf (Gospel). She has developed "Diunna's Style of Blues" in the same tradition as so many other great Texas blues men and women. She combines intricate patches of jazz, gospel and heartfelt soul to create a kind blues that takes one on an emotional roller coaster ride.
Diunna was nominated for the "Koko Taylor Award-Traditional Blues Female" and "Traditional Blues Album-Trying To Hold On" at the 2012 Blues Music Awards. She was the winner of the "Koko Taylor Award-Traditional Blues Female" in 2014 and 2017. Her latest CD "Trying To Hold On" reached #1 on XM/Sirius Radio Bluesville Chart, #1 on French Blues charts, #1 on Living Blues charts for the month of December 2012, and reached the top of Blues charts in UK, Australia and USA.
May 2022 - Trudy Lynn
Born Lee Audrey Nelms in Houston’s Fifth Ward, Trudy Lynn comes from strong musical stock: the late Al “TNT” Braggs, one of Houston’s most electrifying R&B vocalists and a prolific songwriter for Bobby “Blue” Bland, was her cousin.
In 1965 after graduating from high school, Lee Audrey went to Lufkin, Texas, north of Houston, for the summer. Her cousin took her out to a white venue, the Cinderella Club, where she made sure the club owner knew she could sing. When called upon to fill in for their regular singer, Lee Audrey needed a stage name. It was there that she saw the name ‘Trudy’ amidst the other writings on the wall and decided that’s what she wanted to be called. Performers Gloria Lynne and Barbara Lynn also inspired her new name.
Her acclaimed Royal Oaks Blues Café (2013) reached #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart. Everything Comes with a Price (2015), I’ll Sing the Blues For You (2016) and Blues Keep Knockin’ (2018) followed, all recorded at Houston’s famous Red Shack Recording Studio and co-produced by Krase and Rock Romano.
A twelve-time Blues Music Award nominee, Lynn received two career-defining awards in 2019: the Living Legend Blues Award from the Houston Blues Society and the Jus’ Blues Music Foundation’s Willie Mitchell Lifetime Artist Award. Now, as her seventy-fifth birthday approaches, Ms. Trudy Lynn celebrates and asserts her position as Golden Girl, the title of her latest album, slated for March 18, 2022 release on Nola Blue Records.
April 2022 - Nnenna Freelon
Multi GRAMMY® Award nominee NNENNA FREELON is known worldwide as a compelling and captivating live performer. A veteran performer, she toured the world with many great jazz artists, including Ray Charles, Ellis Marsalis, Al Jarreau, George Benson, Earl Klugh, Take 6, and others. She's performed at The White House, headlining the Asia Pacific Economic Summit for hundreds of Presidents, Premiers, and Heads of State. Freelon received accolades and acclaim for her outstanding artistry, dedication to education, and breakout theatrical productions as a singer/actress/producer and composer. In her efforts to find her voice amidst the challenge of losing her husband, Nnenna has begun to emerge with new ways to share her feelings in her new recording entitled Time Traveler.
March 2022 - Dinah Washington (1924-1963)
by Richard S. Ginell
Dinah Washington was at once one of the most beloved and controversial singers of the mid-20th century -- beloved to her fans, devotees, and fellow singers; controversial to critics who still accuse her of selling out her art to commerce and bad taste. Her principal sin, apparently, was to cultivate a distinctive vocal style that was at home in all kinds of music, be it R&B, blues, jazz, middle of the road pop -- and she probably would have made a fine gospel or country singer had she the time. Hers was a gritty, salty, high-pitched voice, marked by absolute clarity of diction and clipped, bluesy phrasing. Washington's personal life was turbulent, with seven marriages behind her, and her interpretations showed it, for she displayed a tough, totally unsentimental, yet still gripping hold on the universal subject of lost love. She has had a huge influence on R&B and jazz singers who have followed in her wake, notably Nancy Wilson, Esther Phillips, and Diane Schuur, and her music is abundantly available nowadays via the huge seven-volume series The Complete Dinah Washington on Mercury.
February 2022 - Samara Joy
“My friends were all into jazz and started sharing their favorite recordings with me to check out. The turning point was when I heard both Sarah Vaughan’s version of ‘Lover Man’ and Tadd Dameron’s recordings featuring trumpeter Fats Navarro. I was hooked.”
From this point, she began to pursue her jazz studies with an intense passion, eventually being named the Ella Fitzgerald Scholar and entering and winning the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition.
Although having only recently celebrated her 21st birthday, Samara has already performed in many of the great jazz venues in NYC, including Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, The Blue Note, and Mezzrow, in addition to working with jazz greats such as Christian McBride, Pasquale Grasso, Kirk Lightsey, Cyrus Chestnut, and NEA Jazz Master Dr. Barry Harris.
Samara's self-titled debut recording is slated for release on July 9 through Whirlwind Recordings. It presents her backed by the trio of guitarist Pasquale Grasso, bassist Ari Roland, and drummer Kenny Washington. Within the album's liner notes, veteran writer Will Friedwald comments that Samara Joy is “a fantastic collection of highly original new arrangements, beautifully sung by a rising talent, and a very impressive first album. People are forever using the word 'timeless' as if it were the greatest praise ever, but in a way, Samara’s voice and her music seem to belong to all time, like she’s connected to the entire history of jazz all at once - as if she were existing in every era simultaneously, she sounds both classic and contemporary.”
Winning the Vaughan award was transformational for Joy. “I was suddenly on the jazz radar. It’s still bizarre to think of how fast things have progressed.” Since then, Joy has dug deep to discover her jazz roots, without losing sight of the innate simplicity that makes her sound shine. Her first album announces the arrival of a young artist destined for greatness.
January 2022 - Cyrille Aimee
Improvisation is not just a technique for Grammy nominated artist Cyrille Aimée, it’s a way of life. The acclaimed vocalist ventured from singing on street corners in Europe to dazzling audiences at the world’s most prestigious jazz festivals; from sneaking out to sing in gypsy encampments in her native France to acting on Broadway; from braving the notoriously tough audiences at New York’s Apollo Theatre to being called a “rising star in the galaxy of jazz singers” by The New York Times.
Among countless accolades, Aimée won the Montreux Jazz Festival Vocal Competition and the Sarah Vaughn International Jazz Vocal Competition. As an actress, Aimée co-starred with Bernadette Peters in a Stephen Sondheim tribute at New York’s City Center which inspired her to dig deeper into Sondheim's repertoire, resulting in her fourth and most recent album, Move On: A Sondheim Adventure.