50 Women In The Blues
Tekst: Iain Patience
Recent years have seen a near-flood of music-based works, many targeted at US blues musicians, guys who generally laid down the foundations of much modern music. These biographies fill a void, providing often well-researched, informative and moving insights into the lives of true music greats, guys who have shaped much of the music and modern culture globally.
50 Women in the Blues comes as a delightful diversion in many ways. Penned by Jennifer Noble, a Chicago snapper with a widely recognized passion for blues music generally, it features a varied range of blues ladies, from the older, acknowledged roots players like Victoria Spivey, Memphis Minnie and Bessie Smith through the cannon of the music to include some current giants, New Orleans’ Irma Thomas, Shemekia Copeland, Susan Tedeschi and Bonnie Raitt.
Noble is no newcomer to the blues with a windy city history including induction into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame and Director of Photography with the Chicago Blues Guide. She’s also a contributor with many blues-related titles.
Noble’s own photographs pepper the work from start to finish, highlighting the quality of her own work and providing the in-fill a book of this kind dearly needs. Each chapter features a different artist with a potted biography followed by an interview revealing their own personal influences, thoughts and hopes for the future of the music. One singular strength is the inclusion of a number of time-served players, women who somehow or other often seem to fly high with huge personal international followings, bluesladies like Lisa Mann, Dona Oxford, Kat Riggins and Liz Mandeville.
In the few cases where the author was clearly unable to grab the attention and interview time with an artist, the sumptuous pictorial gallery alongside a brief biography more than make up for any possible omission or disappointment. In a few other parts, external interviews are included from a range of internationally recognized music publications.
’50 Women in the Blues’ is a worthy addition to the crop of blues music titles vying for attention out there. Indeed, its format and integrity make it an essential introduction and potential reference work for blues fans everywhere. More than a typical coffee-table book, this is a dip-in whenever you fancy book that holds the power to interest, grip, entertain and inform and that can’t be bad!