b. 1953, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Brown began her musical career by singing gospel music in church and although she was aware of the blues she did not sing them until around 1980, when she played the role of Gertrude ‘Ma’ Rainey in a stage musical. Following this, she worked in the numerous Chicago blues clubs, often accompanied by pianists Little Brother Montgomery or Erwin Helfer. Her debut recordings were released by the Red Beans label in 1983, and the first album under her own name was made in 1987 for the German label Schubert. Although she was dubbed ‘the Bessie Smith of the 80s’, a deserved title given her strong renditions of vaudeville blues material, her powerful voice is also well-suited to more modern blues styles. In the 90s she became a popular attraction at blues festivals all over the world. She was backed by English beat combo the Mighty 45s on 1999’s Thinking Out Loud. This recent work, although good, sounded a little too polished and clean. The unlikely, tranquil setting of Wisley, Surrey, England, may have had some unconscious effect on proceedings. Carey Bell added some fine harmonica throughout, and Willie Dixon’s voice was sampled on ‘Lay It On ‘Em Girls’.
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