Rory Block

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Rory Block
Rory Block at the MerleFest 2014
Rory Block at the MerleFest 2014
Background information
Birth nameAurora Block
Born (1949-11-06) November 6, 1949 (age 73)
Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.
GenresCountry blues
Occupation(s)Musician, singer
Years active1964–present

Aurora "Rory" Block (born November 6, 1949,[1] in Princeton, New Jersey) is an American blues guitarist and singer, a notable exponent of the country blues style.[2]


Aurora Block was born in Princeton and grew up in Manhattan. Her father, Allan Block,[3] ran a sandal shop in Greenwich Village in the 1960s, and the Greenwich Village folk music scene, such as Peter Rowan, Maria Muldaur, and John Sebastian influenced Block to study classical guitar.[4] At the age of 14, she met guitarist Stefan Grossman, who introduced her to the music of Mississippi Delta blues guitarists.[5]

Block began listening to old albums, transcribing them, and learning to play the songs. At age 15, she left home to seek out the remaining blues giants, such as Mississippi John Hurt, Reverend Gary Davis, and Son House,[2] and hone her craft in the traditional manner of blues musicians;[4] then she traveled to Berkeley, California, where she played in clubs and coffeehouses.

After retiring temporarily to raise a family, Block returned to the music industry in the 1970s with middling success until signing with Rounder Records in 1981, who encouraged her to return to her love for the classical blues form.[2] Since then she has carved out her own niche, releasing numerous critically acclaimed albums of original and traditional songs, including many Robert Johnson covers, such as "Terraplane Blues" and "Come on in My Kitchen". Her 1986 album, I've Got a Rock in My Sock, included contributions from Taj Mahal and David Bromberg.[2] The same year, Block's 19 year old son, Thiele, died in an automobile accident. Her tribute to him, House of Hearts, contained mostly Block penned tracks.[2]

Angel of Mercy, Turning Point, and Tornado included mostly original compositions. However, Mama's Blues, Ain't I a Woman and When a Woman Gets the Blues featured songs written by Tommy Johnson, Robert Johnson, Lottie Beaman, and Mattie Delaney.[6]

In 2010, Block released her autobiography in .pdf format and a limited print run titled When A Woman Gets The Blues.


Rory Block has won six Blues Music Awards, two for "Traditional Blues Female Artist" (1997, 1998), three for "Acoustic Blues Album of the Year" (1996, 1999, 2007), and the 2019 "Acoustic Artist of the Year".[7][8] She also won NAIRD awards for "Best Adult Contemporary Album of the Year" in 1994 for Angel of Mercy and again in 1997 for Tornado.[9]


Year Title Label Number Notes
1967 How to Play Blues Guitar Elektra 324 Credited as "Sunshine Kate", with Stefan Grossman, reissued in 1978 as Kicking Mule 109
1975 Rory Block RCA Victor 0733
1976 Rory Block (I'm in Love) Blue Goose 2022
1977 Intoxication, So Bitter Sweet Chrysalis 1157
1979 You're the One Chrysalis 1233
1981 High Heeled Blues Rounder 3061 Recorded at Bearsville Sound Studios, Produced by John Sebastian
1983 Blue Horizon Rounder 3073
1984 Rhinestones & Steel Strings Rounder 3085
1986 I've Got a Rock in My Sock Rounder 3097
1987 Best Blues and Originals Rounder 11525
1987 House of Hearts Rounder 3104
1990 Color Me Wild Alcazar 1003 Children's album
1991 Mama's Blues Rounder 3117
1992 Ain't I a Woman Rounder 3120
1994 Angel of Mercy Rounder 3126 1994 Adult Contemporary Album of the Year
1994 Women in (E)motion Tradition & Moderne 107 Live, 1988
1995 When a Woman Gets the Blues Rounder 3139 1996 Acoustic Blues Album of the Year
1995 Turning Point Munich 145
1996 Tornado Rounder 3140 1997 Adult Contemporary Album of the Year
1997 Gone Woman Blues: The Country Blues Collection Rounder 11575
1997 The Early Tapes 1975-1976 Alcazar 111
1998 Confessions Of A Blues Singer Rounder 3154 1999 Acoustic Blues Album of the Year
2002 I'm Every Woman Rounder 3174
2003 Last Fair Deal Telarc CD-83593
2004 Sisters & Brothers Telarc CD-83588 With Eric Bibb and Maria Muldaur
2005 From the Dust Telarc CD-83614
2006 The Lady and Mr Johnson Rykodisc RCD 10872 2007 Acoustic Blues Album of the Year
2008 Blues Walkin' Like a Man: A Tribute to Son House Stony Plain SPCD 1329 First release in the Mentor Series.
2008 Country Blues Guitar - Rare Archival Recordings 1963-1971 Guitar Workshop SGGW103 With Stefan Grossman, reissue of How to Play Blues Guitar plus 16 additional tracks
2011 Shake 'Em on Down: A Tribute to Mississippi Fred McDowell Stony Plain SPCD 1344 Second release in the Mentor Series.
2012 I Belong to the Band: A Tribute to Rev. Gary Davis Stony Plain SPCD 1359 Third release in the Mentor Series.
2013 Avalon: A Tribute to Mississippi John Hurt Stony Plain SPCD 1369 Fourth release in the Mentor Series.[10]
2014 Hard Luck Child: A Tribute to Skip James Stony Plain SPCD 1373 Fifth release in the Mentor Series.
2016 Keepin' Outta Trouble: A Tribute to Bukka White Stony Plain SPCD 1393 Sixth release in the Mentor Series.
2018 A Woman’s Soul: A Tribute to Bessie Smith Stony Plain SPCD 1399 Power Women Of The Blues series - Vol. 1
2020 Prove It On Me Stony Plain SPCD 1409 Power Women Of The Blues series - Vol. 2
2022 Ain't Nobody Worried Stony Plain SPCD 1468 Power Women Of The Blues series - Vol. 3


Festival appearances[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Block, Rory When A Woman Gets The Blues (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 14 April 2011, ISBN 1456520296)


  1. ^ "Rory Block - Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e Colin Larkin, ed. (1995). The Guinness Who's Who of Blues (Second ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 40/42. ISBN 0-85112-673-1.
  3. ^ Weber, Bruce (November 3, 2013). "Allan Block, Whose Sandal Shop Was Folk Music Hub, Dies at 90 (Published 2013)". The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Rory Block Official Home Page!". Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Born to the Blues". 2008-11-24. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2009-07-01.
  6. ^ Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 94. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
  7. ^ McKay, Robin. "BLUES MUSIC AWARDS". Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  8. ^ "2019 Blues Music Awards Winners Announced". Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  9. ^ "Rory Block Resume". Retrieved 2009-10-25.
  10. ^ Block, Rory (4 June 2013). "Avalon: A Tribute To Mississippi John Hurt". Stony Plain Records. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  11. ^ Grego Anderson. "Rory Block Discography". Retrieved 2009-10-25.

External links[edit]