Maria Muldaur is best known world-wide for her 1974 mega-hit “Midnight at the Oasis,” which received several Grammy nominations, and enshrined her forever in the hearts of Baby Boomers everywhere; but despite her considerable pop music success, her 50-year career could best be described a long and adventurous odyssey through the various forms of American roots music. During the folk revival of the early '60s, she began exploring and singing early blues, bluegrass and Appalachian “old timey” music, beginning her recording career in 1963 with the Even Dozen Jug Band and shortly thereafter joining the very popular Jim Kweskin Jug Band, touring and recording with them throughout the '60s.
In the 39 years since “Midnight at the Oasis,” Maria has toured extensively worldwide and has recorded 40 solo albums covering all kinds of American roots music, including gospel, rhythm and blues, jazz and big band (not to mention several award-winning children’s albums), before settling comfortably into her favorite idiom, the blues, in recent years. Often joining forces with some of the top names in the business, Maria has recorded and produced on-average an album per year, several of which have been nominated for Grammy and other awards.
Her critically acclaimed 2001 Stony Plain Records release, Richland Woman Blues, was nominated for a Grammy and by the Blues Foundation as Best Traditional Blues Album of the Year, as was the follow up to that album, Sweet Lovin’ Ol’ Soul. Her timely 2008 album, Yes We Can!, featured songs from some of the most socially conscious songwriters of the past half century: Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, Allen Toussaint, Garth Brooks and others, and featured her “Women’s Voices for Peace Choir,” which included: Bonnie Raitt, Joan, Baez, Jane Fonda, Odetta, Phoebe Snow, Holly Near and others.
For her 2009 release, Maria revisited her original jug band roots, teaming up with John Sebastian, David Grisman and Dan Hicks. Maria Muldaur & Her Garden of Joy was nominated for Best Traditional Blues Album of the Year by the Blues Foundation and garnered Maria her 6th Grammy nomination, as well.
In 2011, Maria detoured from her ongoing exploration of vintage blues and released Steady Love, a return to her much-beloved New Orleans (the place she calls her “musical and spiritual home”) to record a contemporary electric blues album that reflected the kind of music she loves to perform live - what she calls “Bluesiana Music” - her own brand of New Orleans-flavored blues, rhythm and blues and “swamp funk.” Steady Love reached #1 on the Living Blues Chart and garnered her another nomination for Best Traditional Female Blues Artist from the Blues Foundation.
In 2012, for her 40th album, Maria produced….First Came Memphis Minnie, a loving tribute to the pioneering blues woman, who inspired and influenced so many female blues artists who followed in her footsteps. The album features special guests Rory Block, Ruthie Foster, Bonnie Raitt, Phoebe Snow and Koko Taylor, accompanied by the amazing guitar work of Del Rey, David Bromberg, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Roy Rogers, Bob Margolin, Steve James and Steve Freund.
The new album is a true labor of love for Maria, who considers Memphis Minnie to be not only a trailblazing musical pioneer for all women, but also a personal blues hero. “From that first moment I heard her soulful music on an old scratchy 78 to this,” says Maria, “Memphis Minnie, and the example she set for me, has remained a profound influence on my life and my music.”
The queen of mid-20th century blues, Memphis Minnie was a true musical innovator who pioneered the electrified Chicago-blues-band sound. In her prime, she was a blues singer, songwriter, entrepreneur and guitar–player-par-excellence; a colorful, larger-than-life figure who in 1942 was one of the first blues musician to record with an electric guitar. In a recording career which spanned over 40 years, she released more than 200 songs, many of which she wrote and several of which endure today as blues classics. From the beginning of the Great Depression through the end of World War II - through an endless stream of innovative recordings and consistently compelling live performances – she dominated the primarily male dominion of the Chicago blues scene.
“At a time when women were ‘kept in their place,’ both personally and professionally,” says Maria, “Memphis Minnie was tough, independent, outspoken, and played a mean guitar! But, she was more than just a guitar hero of early country blues. She ably adapted to newer trends and modernized her style, which helped account for her years of popularity. She was tough, determined, talented, and courageous enough to defy and overcome all the racial, social, economic, and gender barriers that existed in her time, forging the life she envisioned for herself on nothing but her own terms!”
Maria Muldaur continues to tour regularly world wide, and is available for festivals, concerts, club dates, workshops and residencies.
For a hi-res color photo of Maria Muldaur, click here: Maria Muldaur. To access Maria’s EPK for music samples, bio, press, photos, click here: Maria Muldaur Sonicbids EPK.
Maria Muldaur – ….First Came Memphis Minnie – Stony Plain Records - International release date: October 9, 2012 www.stonyplainrecords.com www.mariamuldaur.com