June 30th, 2017 | Sarah Mason, HarvestMoon
When you think of American musical history, no one can dispute that classic female blues singers were the pioneers in the record industry. They were among the first black singers and blues artists recorded and their contributions led the way for improvisation on melodic lines, unusual phrasing, and vocal dramatics like shouts, groans, moans and wails. Thanks to the ladies, they effected changes in other types of singing that had spin-offs in jazz, gospel, rhythm and blues, and eventually rock and roll. (And yes, of course, men had their role, too.)
But getting back to the ladies, I have to say I’ve always been impressed that Bluesapalooza makes a point to include top women performers in its lineup. (Look around—just sayin’.) Gracing Mammoth’s stage through the years have been a number of amazing female performers: Joan Osborne, Ana Popoviç, Bettye LaVette, Nikki Hill, Shemekia Copeland, Ruthie Foster, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Zella Day and many others. And remember last year? We all were in awe of the amazing Beth Hart and the unstoppable energy of the late Ms. Sharon Jones.
But added to the stage this year is an incredibly dynamic stronghold of women performers.
With a universal appeal spanning six decades, we are so lucky to have on the roster the matriarch of gospel/soul Mavis Staples. She’ll show us how it’s done kicking off Friday Night Rock ‘N’ Blues. Opening for her is the hypnotic Valerie June, a Tennessee-bred songwriter first and foremost, whose voice and songs deliver an eclectic blend of folk, soul, country, R&B, and blues. On Saturday, combining her talent in blues, and her love of raw, scrappy rock and roll, Samantha Fish will put us in the mood with rocking rhythm ‘n’ blues. That same day, rated one of the top 10 female guitarists in the world by Guitar World Magazine, lefty gal Malina Moye will blend her funk, rock and hip-hop with pop vocals. Wow, does she emit fire and emotion! And having performed on the Bluesapalooza stage many years ago, it will be amazing to see the wonderful energy of singer/songwriter Janiva Magness on Sunday. Since she last was in Mammoth, Janiva has racked up many awards, including BB King Entertainer of the year, 7× Blues Music Award winner and the 2015 Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year.
So there you have it. This year’s women of Bluesapalooza. Gotta love the ladies, and celebrate their influences, dedication, and talents that continue to redefine our blues roots and culture.