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Barbara Blue


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Reigning Queen of Beale Street Blues
Singer/songwriter Barbara Blue belts the blues on record and at clubs and festivals all around the world.  Performing gritty urban blues and smoky Memphis soul her voice and presentation has been compared to Etta James and Janis Joplin.  Blue makes her home base on historic Beale Street in Memphis where she performs five nights a week.  She has released nine acclaimed recordings backed by word class musicians.  In 2001 Tony Braunagel, the drummer of Taj Mahal's Phantom Blues Band, saw Blue perform live in Memphis. Impressed he offered Barbara the Phantom Blues Band to back her on her second CD "Sell My Jewelry". Blue recorded three CDs backed by the Phantom Blues Band including "Memphis 3rd & Beale" in 2004 and "Love Money Can't Buy" in 2006.  All three of those albums made the first round of the Grammy Nomination process in 3 categories.

Barbara has performed or recorded with Taj Mahal & The Phantom Blues Band, The Nighthawks, Jeff Healey, Marcia Ball, Delbert McClinton, Maceo Parker, James Cotton, Corey Harris, and other artists.  Touring the world she has performed in Australia, the U.K, and Norway.

Blue, was honored as the tribute singer for the 14th annual Janis Joplin Birthday Bash in Joplin's native Port Arthur, Texas, in January of 2001. The Blues Foundation nominated Barbara for a 2007 Blues Music Award in the category of: Contemporary Female Blues Artist of the Year.

"She's bold; she's brassy; she's downright sassy; but one thing is for sure, Barbara Blue can really sing." -Dave "Doc" Piltz of mnblues.com

"Barbara Blue can make a glass eye cry." - Silky Sullivan

"She sings with the roughness of Janis, the power of Van Morrison and the facial contortions of Joe Cocker."-Joshia  R Johnson

Making the Scene at Gene's

Born in Pittsburgh during the early 1960s Barbara Blue grew up listening to music ranging from Peggy Lee to Ray Charles.  As a child she spent hours in her room strumming her guitar and singing.  In her teens she sang for her friends.  In her late teens she sang in biker bars. Barbara graduated from North Catholic High School in 1977.  In the early 1980s Blue moved to Detroit where she found gigs singing oldies, pop and blues.   Joining a blue band in Detroit her influences expanded to Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Koko Taylor and, Janis Joplin.

Barbara Blue returned to Pittsburgh in the mid 1980s and continued singing the blues.  She competed in the Graffiti Rock Challenge in 1985.  Barbara formed her own band in 1989 and appeared every week at Pittsburgh's top blues club Gene's Bar and Lounge on Saw Mill Run Blvd.  Billed as "Barbara Blue and The Band" they worked six nights a week  performing at Billy's Bistro on Troy Hill the Apple Inn in Dormont, and Gene's Bar.  

Barbara produced and recorded her debut CD "Out of the Blue" in 1994 at the Control Room on Pittsburgh's South Side with guitarist Ford Thurston and drummer Ray DeFade.  She also  recorded the song "Peanut Butter and Jam" for a Sony Records Nickelodeon project working with producer Tom Pompesello at Rick Witkowski's Studio L.  She also co-wrote the theme song for the national cable TV show "Lucille's Car Care Clinic".  

Memphis in the Meantime

Blue made a visit to Memphis in June of 1997 and walked into Silky O’Sullivan’s bar on Beale Street. She paid five dollars to sing a song with the dueling piano players.  Silky, the club owner, asked her stay to sing another song when his wife Joellyn arrived at the club.  She agreed and the O'Sullivan's hired her that night.   Barbara has been at Silky's for 15 years entertaining tourists and locals.

Barbara's recording career blossomed in Memphis in 2001 when she met .Tony Braunagel of Taj Mahal's Phantom Blues Band.  She recorded three CDs at Ultratone Studio in Studio City, California backed by the Phantom Blues Band, John "Juke" Logan and the Texicali Horns: "Sell My Jewelry" (2001),  "Memphis 3rd & Beale" in 2004,  and "Love Money Can't Buy" in 2006.  

Blue's Phantom Blue's records received dozens of great review from blue publications and blogs around the world.  

"Sell My Jewelry, is a fiery mix of Memphis soul, smooth funky blues, and ballads that definitely let the singer show what she's got. Recorded with Taj Mahal's Phantom Blues Band in Los Angeles, Sell My Jewelry not only has great singing, but great performances from the musicians, with arrangements to match." -Pete "Bootlegger" Barbeck Southwest Blues

An 18 song compilation of her recordings with the Phantom Blue's was released in the U.K. in 2007 on Shout Records titled "Barbara Blue & the Phantom Blues Band By Popular Demand"

Blue released a three volume CD set of live recordings of her performances at Silky's in October and November of 2007 Titled "Live @ Silky O'Sullivan's in 2008 it presents Blue’s interpretation of classic tunes backed by Nat Kerr on piano, Lannie McMillan on saxophone, Corey Osborn on guitar with Nancy Apple, and Reba Russell on background vocals.

Barbara released her eight CD "Royal Blue" in October of 2010. It was produced by Lawrence "Boo" Mitchell at Mitchell's Royal Recording Studios in South Memphis where Al Green and Ann Peebles made their classic soul recordings. 

"Jus' Blue's" Barbara's ninth album was released on October 19, 2012.  Featuring 18 tracks either written or co-written by Ms. Blue it was recorded at the Royal Recording studios in Memphis produced by Barbara and Lawrence "Boo" Mitchell.
The Music of Barbara Blue