Interview with Seattle-based diva Lady A, known as the “Hardest Workin’ Woman in Blues, Soul, Funk & Gospel”.
How has the American music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?
My personal view as a Black woman, Songwriter, Producer and Entertainer in America is we still have a long way to go and that’s unfortunate; however, keeps me rooted in my passion to spread a message of hope and encouragement through my music because although slow the change may be, I constantly see a shift as I live my truth in my many communities. Whether it be neighborhood, church, work, music or activism communities; the journey leads to a better destination. So, I keep moving towards that mark.
How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?
My sound is eclectic – when I write it comes from my roots in gospel, blues, soul and jazz influences. The music is ever evolving as I work with some of the best musicians and bandmates in Seattle and we all kick in; my music philosophy is to keep sharing, as I am blessed to bless others with hope, music to dance, laugh and remind us of love; whether self-love and/or the love for others. I create out of the circumstance I’m living or going through at the time. I’m not an artist who writes everyday… (I know that’s awful I’m told… LOL) However, it works for me… I write what I see and feel coming from where I am and how it affects me and/or the people around me.
Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
My being able to meet my idol, and now friend and mentor, Bobby Rush is the most cherished meeting of my life. Meeting Denise LaSalle whose songs I began singing when I started singing blues. Best advise came from my friend Bobby Rush – always take care of myself as a woman in this industry and know my worth.
Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
WOW… where do I start. I cherish memories with my band members, they are a cast of characters, and we are family and laugh a lot together during rehearsals, and before a gig. I remember when I opened for Denise LaSalle back in the early 90’s in Seattle – I sang her song “Real Sad Story” and the manager of the Esquire Club came to take me back to meet her (this was the first meeting) and I couldn’t say a word. She told me I did a great job, I nodded and went away. The next time I met her was at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis, when my Mississippi producer, Dexter Allen re-introduced me to her and I reminded her of that story.. she laughed, hugged me and sat and talked with me for a good while. I cried (of course after I walked away) I was so happy. I will never forget that.. may she Rest in Peace. Her music was a big influence on me.
What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?
I miss the different influences of blues being played on radio stations from the past. I love Muddy Waters, Pinetop Perkins, Keb Mo’s, Taj Mahal, however, I still want to hear the Johnnie Taylor, Bobby Rush, Denise LaSalle, Nina Simone’s thrown in – My hope is to be able to touch 1 persons life at a time through music. If I reach more, I’m happy. My fears.? Fears come and go… I try to be cautious and not afraid.
What does to be a female artist in a Man’s World as James Brown says? What is the status of women in music?
Knowing your worth is important in this industry that is largely run by men; then adding tax. That’s one of my motto’s. The Status of women I believe is that the Future is Female. I see women coming together, networking and encouraging one another as we continue to level up in Blues, Soul and Jazz. I belong to a network of women who gather together since Covid and have been a tremendous support system and networking community. Women are “Comin for it”
What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?
To keep God first in my journey because even if the destination changes the outcome is for my good. To continue to be kind to people along the way because everyone is not where I am and I was once where they are. To be honest living in my truth about what’s happening in this world and not let it deter me from my goals and my obligation to help others.
What is the impact of Blues on the racial and socio-cultural implications? How do you want to affect people?
Blues came out of a time of Muddy Waters, Rev. CL Franklin who came from the south, so the whoopin style of preaching and Blues came out of pain. Historically those folks were living the blues, which came out of slavery… like Bobby Rush with his Rawer than Raw CD, with him and a guitar telling stories in truth. The Blues is our way to express ourselves, and out of the call and response and field hollers of gospel transitioned into the pain of most blues songs.
How do I want to affect people: As I’ve said… I want people to walk away from my show different than when they arrived. I want a story I’ve told thru song or something I’ve said resonate with them so they can stay encouraged when they listen to me sing “Satisfyin” or “Brighter Day”, that they understand the importance of loving yourself when I sing “Big Momma” or remember the soul of the blues when I sing about “Miss Buela Mae’s”
Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?
I would love to travel with my band Anywhere there are people; there is no more fear of Covid and spend an entire day with audiences and musicians I love and admire just playing music and talking. Because it’s about the people you meet along this journey, the place is where you are.
Interview by Michael Limnios / Photos by Dawn Lucrisia-Johnson