Alura Mack

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The grisly "Beef Blood Blues" is about as far out as a classic blues singer of the late '20s ever got, and it is one of the things that makes the recording career of Alura Mack so alluring. Another is…
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The grisly "Beef Blood Blues" is about as far out as a classic blues singer of the late '20s ever got, and it is one of the things that makes the recording career of Alura Mack so alluring. Another is the interesting range of outlooks she offered in her catalog of songs, from bragging about being "Loose Like That" to claiming "I Ain't Puttin' Out Nothin' Blues." It can be assumed that the former ditty is not about the condition of a wing nut, while the latter is probably not the anthem of a forest ranger who has decided to go on strike. Sexual subjects were the required menu for this style of female blues singers, whose recordings during this era featured lyrics ranging from slightly to incredibly nasty, accompanied usually by a pianist and sometimes a clarinet, trumpet, or banjo. Mack often worked in conjunction with bluesman Tommie Bradley.

It was an era in recording history when the popular records of the day rivaled the filth of rap artists who would come along some seven decades later. For every female classic blues artist who became a big star, such as Bessie Smith or Alberta Hunter, there were many others with varying careers of which Mack falls somewhere between the fairly successful and complete shadows (the latter includes Sadie James, who only recorded a couple of numbers before dropping off the face of the earth). Tracks cut by these singers, including Edna Johnson, Mack, James, and Coletha Simpson, among others, have been compiled on collections such as Blue Girls, Vol. 1: 1924-1930 on the Document label. Material by Mack tends to dominate these sets, with one collection featuring a dozen of her tracks, while other artists featured performing on only one or two. As if desiring to experience the taste of deeper obscurity, but probably just wanting to make some extra money without violating a preexisting contract, Mack also recorded for the Superior label in the late '20s under the name of Clara Andrews. Other Mack records include "I'm Busy, You Can't Come In."