STANDING ROOM ONLY
Ross Robinson/BluesIn Toronto presentation
Etta James (born Jamesetta Hawkins; January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012) was an American singer who spanned a variety of music genres including blues, R&B, soul, rock and roll, jazz and gospel. Starting her career in 1954, she gained fame with hits such as “The Wallflower”, “At Last”, “Tell Mama”, “Something’s Got a Hold on Me”, and “I’d Rather Go Blind” for which she wrote the lyrics. She faced a number of personal problems, including drug addiction, before making a musical resurgence in the late 1980s with the album Seven Year Itch.
James is regarded as having bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and rock and roll, and was the winner of six Grammys and 17 Blues Music Awards. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in both 1999 and 2008. Rolling Stone ranked James number 22 on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time and number 62 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.
James possessed the vocal range of a contralto. James’s musical style changed during the course of her career. When beginning her recording career in the mid-50s, James was marketed as an R&B and doo-wop singer. After signing with Chess Records in 1960, James broke through as a traditional pop-styled singer, covering jazz and pop music standards on her debut album, At Last! James’s voice deepened and coarsened, moving her musical style in her later years into the genres of soul and jazz.
Etta James had once been considered one of the most overlooked blues and R&B musicians in the music history of the United States. It was not until the early 1990s, when she began receiving major industry awards from the Grammys and the Blues Foundation, that she began to receive wide recognition. In recent years, she was seen as bridging the gap between rhythm and blues and rock and roll. James has influenced a wide variety of musicians, including Diana Ross, Christina Aguilera, Janis Joplin, Bonnie Raitt, Shemekia Copeland, and Hayley Williams of Paramore as well as British artists The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Elkie Brooks, Amy Winehouse, Paloma Faith, Joss Stone, Rita Ora, and Adele, and also Belgian singer Dani Klein.
Crystal Shawanda grew up on the Wikwemikong reserve on an island in Ontario, Canada, Her parents raised her on Country music and taught her to sing and play guitar, but it was her oldest brother who introduced her to the blues. He would hang out in the basement cranking Muddy Waters, B.B. King and Etta James, and Crystal would sit at the top of the stairs, straining to hear those soulful sounds. There was a part of her that often wandered if she would ever be able to sing like that. And when no one was home, Crystal would practice singing the blues.
She learned early on, by observing her family, that music was like cheap therapy. That’s what the blues is all about: releasing and healing. While she was secretly pining to be a blues mama, out on stage it was Patsy and Loretta. She started performing country when she was six and started getting paid gigs when she was 10, relentlessly playing every stage she could.
She paid her dues, playing at Tootsies Orchid Lounge six days a week, three shifts a day, and managed to build up a buzz and land a production deal with Scott Hendricks. She was later signed to a record deal with RCA Records by Joe Galante, who had heard Crystal cover B.B. King and Janis Joplin. This venture produced a top 20 song on country radio and the highest selling album by a Native American in BDS history
After this, she found herself feeling like a fish out of water. She says, “I so wanted to be what everyone wanted me to be, I lost myself along the way.” So Crystal took some time off and, one day while watching the news and feeling overwhelmed by the headlines, she walked into her music room, picked up her guitar and wrote “The Whole World’s Got the Blues.” This was the start of her first blues album.
”The songs just fell out of me and throughout the recording it was like setting my voice free,” she says. “I can’t help but feel like I’m home, no longer holding back.” Crystal’s album is a modern take on the blues, but is deeply rooted with heart-wrenching laments and catchy rump-shakers. It’s where the north meets the south and captures the resilience of the human spirit — much like the way Crystal does. Crystal Shawanda is reminiscent of a time gone by. She will make you feel every word with a powerful voice that never fails, pure and gritty at the same time.
Cheryl Lescom has been part of the Canadian music scene for over 35 years, starting off in 1975 with several of her own bands before becoming a back up singer for Ronnie Hawkins and touring with Long John Baldry. Cheryl also sang on many national jingles in the 1980’s.
She has toured and performed with the likes of Jeff Healey, Matt Minglewood, Dutch Mason, the Downchild Blues Band, Jack DeKeyser, Del Shannon, David Wilcox, Mel Brown, Paul James, Billy Durst and The Detroit Women. To date, Cheryl has released 5 CD’s.
Awards she has received include:
The Advertising Music Producers – Best Female Vocal Performance 1984 The Kitchener Blues Festival – Mel Brown Award 2006 Kitchener Waterloo Arts Award for Music 2009
As the late, great Long John Baldry once said, “Cheryl Lescom has one of the best and biggest voices in Canada. I’ve had many great singers with me over the years and Cheryl is by far one of my favourites!”
Quisha Wint is an accomplished songstress/performer/arranger/songwriter who is unleashing her debut CD entitled “My Journey”. Her CD was produced by Eddie Bullen of Thunder Dome Sounds who is well known in the industry for his production accolades and as a phenomenal Jazz pianist. This phenomenal and expressive vocalist proves that you can live out your dreams through inspiring others.
Quisha was born to sing and entertain. She grew up in a Jamaican home listening to Reggae, Motown, Gospel, R&B, then expanded to jazz when she entered the well-known jazz program at Humber College in the mid ’90s. From there she embarked upon her dream of performing with well-known Toronto musicians, which took her to exciting overseas hotel engagements. Since then, Quisha has sung in many parts of Asia, Europe, North America, and Caribbean, leaving her audiences applauding and wanting more of this dynamic performer.
As one of Toronto’s sought-after session vocalists, Quisha is a rising star in the tight-knit music industry thanks to her bright personality and strong emotive vocal abilities. A career highlight was when Quisha was asked to sing with Jane Sibbery on her hit song “Calling All Angels” in the 2000 film “Pay It Forward” which starred Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment.
In 2003, Quisha made it all the way to the Top 30 finalists of Canadian Idol’s first season and shortly after received a phone call from Jacksoul’s lead singer, the late Haydain Neale, to become his new backup vocalist. While on the road with Jacksoul, fans embraced her as her energy swept through the sold-out crowds. Quisha has also sung backgrounds for top Matt Dusk, Maestro, Snow, to just name a few.
The most recent singing engagement was when she was brought to the 2012 Junos to back up Canadian Icon and international superstar William Shatner. You can currently hear her voice on the Frosted Mini Wheats commercial singing “Stuck in the Middle with You” as the voice of Blueberry.
This beautiful and talented artist is a breath of fresh air in an industry over-saturated with pop culture. Quisha’s voice is mesmerizing and captures the soulful sounds of the legendary artists (Anita Baker, Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin) who’ve paved the way before her.
While Toronto fans have been anticipating her debut CD, the world will soon follow suit because Quisha Wint is worth the wait!
Sabrina Weeks’s voice is a ménage à trois between Etta James, Fae West and Doris Day writhing beneath black satin sheets. When attending a Sabrina Weeks performance, you laugh out loud, dance uncontrollably, sing along, loud and proud, and get lost in a series of unforgettable moments.
Her extensive touring, along with guitar wizard Mike Hilliard, and hard work has resulted in several accolades including:
• Runner up for a 2014 Blewzy Award
• Winner for 2011 Maple Blues Award – Best New Artist
• Nominated for BCIMA Blues Album of the Year Award
• Voted Pick to Click by Sirius/XM Radio
• Charted in the Top Ten on the global blues RMR charts and ranked top 100 on the annual Roots Music Report.
• Voted Top Ten by the Blues Underground Network.* Voted The Years Best CD by CFBX.
• Voted Top 100 by Real Blues.
“Sabrina Weeks and Mike Hilliard are a sizzling, scintillating, swinging, soulful duo who deliver a first-class show wherever they appear- original and fresh with a new twist to the blues and a dance beat that just won’t quit. Their show is a guaranteed crowd pleaser and this gal can REALLY sing! Sabrina is a Canadian treasure in the making.” Jack Lavin, Powder Blues
“Sabrina has more energy than that bunny in the battery commercials. She also has class, style, sass and smarts. When she sings, the whole damn room lights up. I could be in love…” Richard Flohil, Publicist, Richard Flohil and Associate
“Sabrina can caress a ballad, shout a mean blues, and swing with the best of them. Sabrina’s gift in using her exceptional voice includes the ability to make lyrics come alive.
Sabrina Weeks has been playing music professionally for over 2.5 decades. An award winning vocalist known throughout Canada for her deeply expressive, powerful voice, Sabrina brings an extraordinary vocal and emotional range to her music. A composer since the age of 10, her original songs are known for their thoughtful yet quirky lyrics, catchy vocal lines and strong grooves. Sabrina Weeks has shared the stage or opened for such performers as Colin James, Tom Lavin and Powder Blues, Steppenwolf, Jack de Keyzer and the Downchild Blues Band. Further, Sabrina is often featured in such prestigious concerts as the TBS Women in Blues Revue at Massey Hall and the Etta James Tribute at Hugh’s Room.
Carolyn-Fe Trinidad has the deep soul of an artist who has lived on the fringe for most of her life giving her lyrics an insight and depth that cannot be imitated and must be heard. She writes and produces original material that contains lyrics with highly charged emotions that only the Blues can surrender.
Backed by veteran musicians who’ve played with the likes of Percy Sledge, Fat Boy Slim and Seal, the band delivers musical phrasing that evokes deep sensations from the begging for love, the hard-core-in-your-face of truth denied or the dreamy allure of pure seduction. With each live show, they win over the hearts of new fans adding to their loyal following.
The first CD “100%” (released in 2009) joined the play lists of various online and on-air radio stations worldwide and continue to receive positive feedback as the songs remain alive.
The award winning 2nd CD “Original Sin” (released in August 2011) was launched to packed houses on two nights, allowing Carolyn Fe to establish her presence in the Canadian Blues scene, as her songs begin to get regular airplay on radio stations worldwide.
Bad Taboo, their award winning 3rd album (released in May 2014) features a collaboration with Shun Kikuta on the title track. Mr. Kikuta was the guitarist for Queen of the Blues, Ms. Koko Taylor and dubbed “The Asian BB King” by BB King himself. He left Chicago and now resides in Asia. Quebec’s own Guy Bélanger adds his touch on the harmonica to two songs, “Life’s Just That Good” and “Whole Lotsa Trouble”. The 3rd album, and second award, has definitely solidified Carolyn Fe’s place in the Blues world with her songs on regular rotation worldwide.
The 4th album is on its way. With melodies and lyrics that deeply resonates with Carolyn Fe, new members will be introduced in due time. Stay tuned…
If you are finding your Blues all sounding the same, turn the page – look at, and listen to Carolyn Fe Blues Collective as they keep pushing the envelope of the Blues, breaking your Blues boundaries and knowing that Carolyn Fe Blues Collective will always deliver something old, something new, nothing borrowed but the Blues.