Odessa Harris

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Blues vocalist and Arkansas native Odessa Harris first began singing as a member of her Baptist church choir in the 1940s. This led to various jobs, including performing at gambling "crap houses," traveling…
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Blues vocalist and Arkansas native Odessa Harris first began singing as a member of her Baptist church choir in the 1940s. This led to various jobs, including performing at gambling "crap houses," traveling with a carnival, and a performance with James "Peck" Curtis on the KFFA 1360 AM radio program, "King Biscuit Time." Looking to further her career, Harris moved to Jacksonville, FL, in the late '50s. It was there, on a whim, that she attended a concert by a young guitarist just making a name for himself -- B.B. King. Purportedly, the crowd demanded that Harris take to the stage for a few numbers; she did and toured with King until 1961. The years following her departure from King's band found Harris relocating to Miami, recording two 45s for Clive Davis and Capitol Records, and eventually settling in Detroit, MI, in 1972. Despite finding freelance vocal work throughout the Midwest and performing regularly with drummer Sonny Freeman, Harris decided to retire from performing in the late '80s. She spent most of the next ten years living in relative obscurity as a member of a local Buddhist community. It wasn't until fellow Detroiter trumpeter Marcus Belgrave finally convinced her to return to the stage in 2000 that Harris began performing again. She released The Easy Life, her first recording in over 30 years, on Eastlawn Records in 2003. Having suffered from emphysema in her later years, Harris ultimately died from heart failure in Detroit on August 18, 2007.