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Laurie Morvan, Blueswoman: Women in the Blues Tradition

Updated: Dec 12, 2022

Though often overlooked, the women who shaped the sound of the blues are nothing short of legendary. Each one brought their own unique style to the music, and in doing so, helped to create a genre that would come to be loved by millions. Their stories are fascinating, and their music is unforgettable.

Ma Rainey

Ma Rainey was one of the early leaders in the development of the blues genre. She was born in Georgia in 1886 and began her career in vaudeville theater. In 1912, she made her recording debut with "Crazy Blues," which was an instant hit. For the next decade, she continued to perform and record popular songs, helping to shape the early sound of the blues. Unfortunately, her career was cut short by the Great Depression, and she died in 1939. While she is best remembered for her musical contributions, Rainey was also a trailblazer for women in the music industry. At a time when gender bias was rampant, she defied societal norms and became one of the most successful and influential musicians of her generation. In doing so, she opened the door for future generations of women in music. Thanks to artists like Ma Rainey, the blues is now recognized as one of America's greatest musical traditions.

Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith was one of the most popular blues singers of the 1920s and 1930s. She was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1894, and began her career singing in local clubs. In 1923, she made her recording debut with "Downhearted Blues," which quickly became a hit. For the next decade, she continued to record and perform popular songs, helping to shape the sound of the blues. Smith was known for her powerful voice and emotional delivery. Her songs often dealt with difficult subjects like heartbreak and poverty, but she also sang about joy and love. Thanks to artists like Bessie Smith, the blues is now recognized as one of America's greatest musical traditions.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was one of the most important women in the history of American music. A gifted guitar player and singer, she helped to popularize the blues throughout the country and laid the foundation for rock & roll. Tharpe grew up in a religious family and began singing gospel music in her local church. She soon developed a style of her own, infusing gospel with blues and jazz influences. In 1944, she made her first recordings with the famous musician Alfred Lion. These recordings helped to launch her career and introduced her audience to a new sound. Despite her success, Tharpe faced significant discrimination due to her gender. Male musicians often belittled her talent, and she was frequently denied opportunities to perform at major venues. Nevertheless, Tharpe persevered, continuing to play and sing until her death in 1964. Her legacy continues to influence musicians today, and she is now recognized as one of the most influential women in American music.

Laurie Morvan

Laurie Morvan is a modern female blues musician who plays guitar and sings. Her band has been described as a "high energy, rockin' blues band" that is based in Long Beach, CA. The band has toured extensively throughout the USA, Canada, Mexico and Europe, and has performed at over 80 festivals. Morvan is one of a few women instrumentalists in the genre of blues rock, and her work has been praised for its musicianship and energy. In a male-dominated field, she has faced occasional gender bias, but Laurie Morvan continues to be a powerful force in the music industry. Her work is an excellent example of the power of women in blues and rock & roll.

Support Live Music

The blues has always been a genre of music that is predominately male. However, the women in blues have fought to be heard and respected throughout the years. These women have used their music as a platform to speak out about social issues that they were passionate about. From early blues to modern-day rock & roll, there is a clear tradition of powerful women in music and we have a responsibility to support them when we can. If you're a fan of blues music, be sure to check out Laurie Morvan's upcoming show at the Murphys Irish Pub.

Laurie Morvan, July 2 at the Murphys Irish Pub - Set 2

Enjoy this set from the Laurie Morvan Band at the Murphys Irish Pub. Pick a song, links correspond to chapters in the YouTube video.

00:00:00 - Start

00:00:21 - 01 - Beat Up From the Feet Up

00:07:12 - 02 - Skinny Chicks

00:12:35 - 03 - Rock Steady

00:19:39 - 04 - Money Talks

00:26:48 - 05 - Gotta Dig Deep

00:32:52 - 06 - Bit By Bit

00:38:29 - 07 - Song 7

00:42:22 - 08 - My Baby Says

00:48:16 - 09 - Three Little Birds

00:53:34 - 10 - I Want Answers

01:01:18 - 11 - Little Wing

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