Compiled by Jennifer Noble with colour photos by Jennifer Noble.
•First book to give overview of and interviews with women in the blues.
•With many exclusive colour photos taken at live concerts by esteemed music photographer.
•Perfect gift for music lovers.
Women have been at the dawn of the blues since Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey were singing about hard knocks and tough love in smoky bars. This book gives an overview of the early days of the blues and its development from the Mississippi Delta to the hometown of the electric blues, Chicago, to becoming the vibrant global musical movement it is today. In addition, there are exclusive interviews with dozens of the women leading the Blues today.
Featuring selected highlights from Chicago blues photographer Jennifer Noble’s extensive colour collection.
With an introduction by acclaimed music writer Zoe Howe, this book explores the pioneers who created the blues from the 1920s onwards, as well as providing exclusive interviews with around 30 extraordinary women who take the blues to new heights today.
Includes biographies of legendary blues singers:
Mamie Smith, Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Memphis Minnie, Sippie Wallace, Victoria Spivey, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Big Mama Thornton, Etta James, Mavis Staples, Janis Joplin
and Bonnie Raitt
Features interviews with:
Barbara Blue, Kyla Brox, Barbara Carr, Joanna Connor, Shemekia Copeland, Debbie Davies, Thornetta Davis, Deitra Farr, Ivy Ford, Ruthie Foster, Dana Gillespi, Tia Gouttebel, Diunna Greenleaf, Anne Harris, Uvee Hayes, Lynne Jordan, Mary Lane, Larkin Poe, Grana’ Louise, Connie Lush, Annie Mack, Liz Mandeville, Lisa Mann, Kate Moss, Terrie Odabi, Doña Oxford, Kat Pearson, Kat Riggins, Chick Rodgers, Jackie Scott, Sister Cookie, Peaches Staten, Susan Tedeschi, Irma Thomas, Nellie “Tiger” Travis, Teeny Tucker, Nora Jean Wallace, Dawn Tyler Watson
About the contributors
JENNIFER NOBLE – Music Photography and Interview compilation
Chicago Blues Hall of Fame inductee 2014 and the Director of Photography for the Chicago Blues Guide, Jennifer has been photographing legendary blues artists for over 30 years. Her photos have been published all over the world and recently featured in an exhibition about Women in the Blues in Chicago. In addition, she has been a DJ with her own radio show in the USA and has interviewed many blues artists over the years. She is now based in London and is a member of the UK Blues Federation.
ZOE HOWE- Introduction
Zoë Howe is a writer, musician and visual artist based in Essex. Her acclaimed music books include Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story, Lee Brilleaux – Rock ‘n’ Roll Gentleman, the bestselling Stevie Nicks – Visions, Dreams and Rumours, Barbed Wire Kisses – The Jesus and Mary Chain Story, Typical Girls? The Story of The Slits, and Wilko Johnson – Looking Back at Me. She was a contributing author to The British Beat Explosion – Rock ‘n’ Roll Island and was also The Blues Magazine’s ‘rock ‘n’ roll agony aunt’.
“Jennifer Noble is an insightful blues enthusiast whose wealth of knowledge of blues music is second to none. Through this rare book about women in blues, the reader encounters many of the talented ladies Jennifer has met on her photographic journey – from Irma Thomas to Ivy Ford – illuminated with wonderfully informative dialogue from the artists themselves to complement her photos. This is not just another coffee table book: it is a must read for all blues aficionados!”
–Blues Matters Magazine
“Jennifer Noble’s photographs make you fall in love with these Blues Women. She captures the essence of their soul. I have fallen in love with them as well and was so inspired that I started Women of the Blues Foundation. Thank you, Jennifer Noble for bringing me into a world of extraordinary women.” –Lynn Orman Weiss, Founder Women of the Blues Foundation and Women of the Blues Records.
“Jennifer Noble has been photographing blues in Chicago for more than 30 years so she knows a thing or two about the scene. In 50 Women in the Blues, she highlights–you guessed it–50 women of the blues–from the legendary trailblazers like Memphis Minnie, Big Mama Thorton, Sippie Wallace and Bessie Smith to present day blues queens such as Shemekia Copeland, Joanna Connor, Thornetta Davis, Mary Lane, Sister Cookie and many, many more. Even I, who likes to think I know everything there is to know about the women who sing the blues, met a few women I didn’t know in this delightful book.” –Chicago Blues News
“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!” – Iain Patience, Elmore Magazine
– full review here https://www.elmoremagazine.com/2020/01/reviews/books/50-women-in-the-blues
“…the book is produced in hardback, and as the notes say ‘The book gives an overview of the early days of the blues and its development from the Mississippi delta to Chicago to the global music it is today’. So for all of us who love the blues this book is a must have. One of the best produced books on the blues you’ll ever find.” — Peta Clack, Blues in Britain magazine
“Given the times we live in, it’s a little surprising there haven’t been more books focusing on blueswomen. Whether this book of photographs and (relatively brief) essays and interviews, featuring the work of photographer Jennifer Noble, with assistance from British author and freelance writer Zoe Howe, represents part of a larger movement to correct that oversight remains to be seen, but it’s a tantalizing prospect.
Noble’s photographs are straightforward and unpretentious, she’s not a high art photographer but a portraitist, interested in capturing the spirit of the moment and in these cases the spirit and brio of her subjects – appropriately the dominant mood is joyful: this music is a celebration – of life, of womanly power, of perseverance and survival.
In recent years, authors such as Angela Y. Davis (Blues Legacies and Black Feminism)… have produced important works that have focused on the social significance of women’s voices and performance styles in the blues, and although it does not aspire to the scope of such works, this collection of photographs should nonetheless be recognized as another, in what one hopes is an ongoing initiative, scholarly and otherwise, to recognize, study and celebrate this vital facet of living blues history. After all, in a very real sense, the history of the blues is women’s history as well – or as Zoe Howe reminds us in her introduction: “Years of oppression couldn’t stop them. Violence couldn’t cow them. Religion didn’t suppress them and social conditioning couldn’t inhibit them… a woman is the blues and the blues is a woman.” — David Whiteis, Living Blues Magazine