Sugar Pie DeSanto says, "I like to sing blues, R&B, and pop and I think I do them pretty well". [more inside]
Elvis rode to fame on one of her covers and Janis got rich on her signature song, but you haven't truly heard Hound Dog or Ball & Chain until you've experienced Big Mama Thornton belting them out. A seminal blues figure who could play the harp with the best of them, she was true original. In her heyday, Willie Mae was a 6-foot tall, 350-pound, gun-toting crossdresser who led a rough and colorful life and took no guff whatsoever. Emaciated but still powerful, she gives a final raw and expressive performance of Ball & Chain and Hound Dog shortly before her death in 1984. [more inside]
Sounds of America is a new monthly streaming audio program, a collaboration between the National Museum of American History and Smithsonian Global Sound. Up now are 3 episodes: African-American music in New Orleans, Women in American Music, and Freedom Songs of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
The Rhythm & Blues Review is a one+ hour Google video clip of a 1955 Apollo show featuring Lionel Hampton, Sarah Vaughn, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Cab Calloway -- and at 1.05, Miss Rhythm herself, blues diva Ruth Brown singing her signature song, Teardrops From My Eyes. Ruth Brown sadly passed away on Friday. [More on Ruth Brown]