For several weeks I've been miserable with the flu. All I could do to relieve my symptoms, was down a nasty shot of Ny Quil every so often, and listen to Lady Blue's re-issued release, "Shady Lady." Her sleek, cool voice is full of hot attitude and soul, which had the ability to rock away my aches and pains.
On September 28, 1999, Laverne "Lady Blue" Johnson said goodbye to all of her fans. Unfortunately, she lived a short, full life, and has passed on after her battle with a debilitating illness. Almost four months have passed since the Twin Cities Blues Diva has left, yet, I'm sure her legendary voice still echoes in the shadows of the former downtown Minneapolis restaurant and nightclub, Biscuits and Blues; a place where she shared her gift often.
Lady Blue was born in Pace, Mississippi, where she began sharing her gift singing gospel in the 1950's. She went from the church to the dim lit stage, joining her talent with Tina Turner as an Ik-ette for quite some time. It wasn't until the early 1970's when she decided to stand on her own, and went her own way to entertain the Twin Cities blues scene. When Lady Blue first began her career in the Twin Cities, she sang with other talents such as, Sonny "Cat Daddy" Rogers, Sammy Lawhorn, Mojo Buford, Dave "Cool Breeze" Brown, Milwaukee Slim, as well as so many others. She wasn't the only one in her family with musical talent either. She also has two brothers who were and are known for their blues, Bobby Johnson, who's been away from the blues scene for about a ten years, due to an unfortunate accident, and Blues man Johnson.
Her CD, "Shady Lady," was first released in 1994, and had received rave reviews from her fans and public. Six years later, her voice continues on with a re-issued release, permitting others to enjoy her voice now that she's gone. I thought her tracks on this CD stirred with the definite essence of a strong woman. Her voice reminded me of a cool, slinky, black cat, which purred with seduction now and then in her notes. In her opening song, "Shady Lady," she sings with spirit, "They call me Shady Lady 'cuz I don't come home 'til dawn," telling you just like it is. Not only does she voice her soul with attitude, she has the ability to make you feel a part of her, and delivers you to places where only the imagination can go. Some of her songs, such as, "Can't See The Wall," had the ability to move me with its melody into a dark, smoke-filled lounge. Other song's, such as, "Wind Beneath My Wings," (Her own composition) transcended me into a provocative world of candlelight, satin sheets, and wine. It was a s if the notes from every musician, instrument, and each word sung, had a story to tell with a compelling mix of creativity and style. Each track made you feel something, and you bounced with emotions of happiness, love, seduction, heartache, and betrayal.
I'm not sure if it was the fever, too much Ny Quil, or the spirit of Lady Blue's voice, which continued to play her lyrics over and over again in my head; long after her CD had finished playing. Whatever it was, her music made a miserable time for me go so much easier.
If you haven't had a chance to listen to Lady Blue's CD, "Shady Lady," I'd recommend you do. If you need more information on how to purchase this CD, you can contact Blue Loon (Moon) Records in Mpls, 612-531-9522.
Blue Loon: http://www.blueloon.com/
This review is copyright © 2000 by Mia Jennings, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.