Marcia Ball in concert (2011)
March 20, 1949 |
Orange, Texas, U.S.
|Origin||Vinton, Louisiana, U.S.|
She was described in USA Today as "a sensation, saucy singer and superb pianist... where Texas stomp-rock and Louisiana blues-swamp meet." The Boston Globe described her music as "an irresistible celebratory blend of rollicking, two-fisted New Orleans piano, Louisiana swamp rock and smoldering Texas blues from a contemporary storyteller."
Ball was born into a musical family. Her grandmother and aunt both played piano music of their time and Ball started piano lessons when she started school, and showed an early interest in New Orleans style piano playing, as exemplified by Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, and James Booker. She has named Irma Thomas, the New Orleans vocalist, as her chief vocal inspiration. Ball studied English at Louisiana State University in the 1960s while playing in a band called Gum. In 1970, at age 21, she started a progressive country band called Freda and the Firedogs in Austin, Texas, and began her solo career in 1974.
Ball's piano style includes elements of zydeco, swamp blues, Louisiana blues and boogie woogie. She began her recording career as a solo artist with Rounder Records in the 1980s and early 1990s. In 2001, she joined the Chicago-based Alligator Records. Her Rounder album, Sing It!, which featured vocalists Irma Thomas and Tracy Nelson, released in January 1998 was nominated for a Grammy Award and a Blues Music Award for "Best Contemporary Blues Album." Ball received the 1998 Blues Music Award for "Contemporary Female Vocalist of the Year" and "Best Blues Instrumentalist-Keyboards."
She was awarded "Contemporary Blues Album of the Year" for her albums Presumed Innocent (2002) and So Many Rivers (2004). The same year she also won "Contemporary Blues Artist of the Year-Female." She won the "Best Blues Instrumentalist-Keyboards" again in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009. The BMA for Keyboards has since been renamed the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player Award and Marcia has won that in 2012 and 2015. Her 2003 Alligator release, So Many Rivers, was nominated for a Grammy as were Live! Down The Road (2005) and Peace, Love & BBQ (2008). She was inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame in 1990.
Ball has continued to work with Irma Thomas. In 2006, the two contributed a duet ("Look Up") on the New Orleans Social Club release, Sing Me Back Home (Burgundy Records/Honey Darling Records). In 2007, the two contributed another duet ("I Can't Get New Orleans Off My Mind") to Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino (Vanguard Records). She continues to play at nightclubs, particularly in Austin and New Orleans, and performs at music festivals in North America and overseas.
In May 2015, Ball won the 'Pinetop Perkins Piano Player' award at the Blues Music Awards ceremony.
Solo or principal artist
- 1972: Freda and the Firedogs
- 1978: Circuit Queen (Capitol)
- 1984: Soulful Dress (Rounder)
- 1985: Hot Tamale Baby (Rounder)
- 1989: Gatorhythms (Rounder)
- 1990: Dreams Come True (Antone's) (with Lou Ann Barton and Angela Strehli)
- 1994: Blue House (Rounder)
- 1997: Let Me Play With Your Poodle (Rounder)
- 1998: Sing It! (Rounder) (with Tracy Nelson and Irma Thomas)
- 2001: Presumed Innocent (Alligator Records)
- 2003: So Many Rivers (Alligator Records)
- 2004: Live at Waterloo Records (Alligator Records)
- 2005: Live! Down The Road (Alligator Records)
- 2007: JazzFest Live (MunckMusic\Munck)
- 2008: Peace, Love & BBQ (Alligator)
- 2011: Roadside Attractions (Alligator Records) – Grammy nominated album
- 2014: The Tattooed Lady & The Alligator Man (Alligator Records)
- 2000 Don Wise: In the verge of survival, with Delbert McClinton
- 2006: Sing Me Back Home New Orleans Social Club (Burgundy Records/Honey Darling Records) Duet with Irma Thomas, "Look Up".
- 2007: Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino (Vanguard Records) Duet with Irma Thomas, "I Can't Get New Orleans Off My Mind".
- 2009: Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women (Yep Roc Records) With Dave Alvin. Member of "The Guilty Women" band.
- San Francisco Blues Festival – 1984
- Austin Aqua Fest – 1986
- Long Beach Blues Festival – 1996
- Rhythm And Roots Festival (Charlestown, RI) – 2000
- Thursday at the Square – 2002
- Monterey Jazz Festival – 2002
- Austin City Limits Music Festival – 2004
- National Folk Festival (USA) – 2005
- Waterfront Blues Festival (Portland, OR) – 2007
- New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival – 2007, 2008, 2009, 2014, 2015
- Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival (Helena, AR) – 2010
- Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival (New Orleans, LA) – 2011
- Chicago Blues Festival – 2013
- List of blues musicians
- List of boogie woogie musicians
- List of Louisiana blues musicians
- List of Swamp blues musicians
- List of people from Texas
- List of Austinites
- Music of Austin
- Lake Eden Arts Festival
- Allmusic biography
- Gundersen, Edna. USA Today, February 5, 2006.
- Gilbert, Andrew (February 19, 2006), "A Gulf Coast treasure breaks out", Boston Globe, retrieved October 26, 2009
- from and interview with Marcia Ball on episode 208 of the Americana Music Show, published September 11, 2014
- Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues – From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Ltd. p. 90. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
- Biography, Blues.about.com; accessed March 19, 2015.
- Biodata, rosebudus.com; accessed March 19, 2015.
- "2015 Blues Music Awards Winners". Americanbluesscene.com. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
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