Tracy Nelson (singer)

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Tracy Nelson
Born (1944-12-27) December 27, 1944 (age 73)
Madison, Wisconsin, United States
Years active 1960s–present
Associated acts Mother Earth

Tracy Nelson (born December 27, 1944)[1] is an American singer.

Personal life[edit]

Nelson was born and grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. There, she first learned about R&B music from nighttime listening to WLAC radio in Nashville. In her teens, Nelson sang folk music in coffeehouses and with a group called The Fuller's Wood Singers and was lead singer in a band called The Fabulous Imitations.[1] She attended the University of Wisconsin as a social science major.


Early recording career[edit]

In 1964, Nelson recorded an acoustic blues album released on Prestige Records, Deep Are the Roots. It featured blues harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite as a member of her backup band.[1] In Chicago, where the album was recorded, Nelson met and learned from artists including Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and Otis Spann.

Nelson moved to San Francisco in 1966, where she became part of the music scene there. Her band Mother Earth played the Fillmore Auditorium, sharing bills with the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix.[2] It was during this period that Nelson wrote and recorded her signature song "Down So Low" (released on the Mother Earth album Living with the Animals), which was later covered by Linda Ronstadt,[1] Etta James,[3], Diamanda Galás, Dee Dee Warwick, Ellen McIlwaine, Maria Muldaur, and Cyndi Lauper.[4]

Later career[edit]

In the late 1960s, Nelson relocated to Nashville, where she and Mother Earth recorded the album Make A Joyful Noise and the solo effort Tracy Nelson Country. The latter features Nelson's cover of the country classic "Blue, Blue Day". Nelson made a total of six albums with Mother Earth for the Mercury, Reprise, and Columbia labels. She has continued to record as a solo artist for Atlantic and other labels, including MCA, Flying Fish and Adelphi. In 1974, her duet with Willie Nelson, "After the Fire is Gone," was nominated for a Grammy Award.[1][2] Her 1975 release Sweet Soul Music on the MCA label included Leon Pendarvis and Richard Tee on keyboards and the Sweet Inspirations, and featured covers of Don Nix's "Same Old Blues" and Bob Dylan's "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight".

After a lengthy hiatus from recording in the 1980s, Nelson released several albums on the independent Rounder Records label in the 1990s. Her 1998 collaboration with label-mates Marcia Ball and Irma Thomas, "Sing It," garnered a second Grammy nomination.[2][3] During this comeback period, she performed on American music television programs such as Sunday Night and Austin City Limits.[5]

Since the early 2000s, Nelson has recorded for various independent record labels. She released her first in-concert album Live From Cell Block D in 2004.[6] Other projects include a collaboration with blues-rock veterans Nick Gravenites, Harvey Mandel, Corky Siegel and Sam Lay. Billed as the Chicago Blues Reunion, the group toured major cities in 2005 and 2006.[3]

In 2007, Tracy released You'll Never Be a Stranger at My Door, her first pure country effort since her 1969 album, Mother Earth Presents Tracy Nelson Country.[2] Stranger included her covers of Johnny Cash's "I Still Miss Someone," Jim Reeves's "Four Walls"; the Everly Brothers' "I Wonder If I Care as Much" and a song based on a poem of her own composition, "Salt of the Earth".[2]

On November 4, 2011, Nelson performed and recorded with Angela Strehli, Annie Sampson, and Dorothy Morrison as the Blues Broads live from the Throckmorton Theatre.[7][8] In 2013, Nelson was nominated for a Blues Music Award in the 'Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female)' category.[9]

In July 2015, Nelson sang at an "all-star" concert in Nashville, organized by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, to celebrate the Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City exhibition and compilation-album release.[10] On October 2, 2016, Nelson sang with Mariachi Mestizo at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco.[11][12] From 2016 into 2018, Nelson has been and will be performing intermittently with Missouri band the Bel Airs.[13][14][15][16]


Mother Earth[edit]

See Mother Earth article


  • 1965 "Deep Are the Roots" (Prestige Records 7393, reissued 7726; P-Vine 5149 CD)
  • 1969 "Mother Earth Presents Tracy Nelson Country" (Mercury Records)
  • 1973 "Poor Man's Paradise" (Columbia Records)
  • 1974 "Tracy Nelson" (Atlantic Records)
  • 1975 "Sweet Soul Music" (MCA Records)
  • 1976 "Time Is on My Side" (MCA Records)
  • 1978 "Homemade Songs" (Flying Fish Records/Rounder Records)
  • 1980 "Come See About Me" (Flying Fish Records/Rounder Records)
    • 1993 "Homemade Songs"/"Come See About Me" re-released on single CD (Rounder Records)[17]
  • 1980 "Doin' It My Way" (Adelphi Records)
  • 1993 "In the Here and Now" (Rounder Records)
  • 1995 "I Feel So Good" (Rounder Records)
  • 1996 "Move On" (Rounder Records)
  • 2001 "Ebony and Irony" (Relentless Nashville/Eclectic Records)
  • 2004 "Live From Cell Block D" (Memphis International Records)
  • 2007 "You'll Never Be a Stranger at My Door" (Memphis International Records)
  • 2009 "The Soul Sessions: Essential Recordings" - selections from "Homemade Songs" and "Come See About Me" (Rounder Records)
  • 2011 "Victim of the Blues" (Delta Groove Music)

Other collaborations (incomplete)[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Flavour of the earth". Chennai, India: The Hindu. August 12, 2008. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Lady Sings the Blues (And Country)". Nashville Scene. October 25, 2007. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c Gilbert, Andrew (July 2, 2006). "This is what you call a class reunion". The Boston Globe. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
  4. ^ "Down So Low". Secondhandsongs. Retrieved 2018-01-17.
  5. ^ "Anthology". Austin City Limits. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  6. ^ "Beyond These Walls". Nashville Scene. August 12, 2004. Retrieved May 5, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "The Blues Broads". The Blues Broads. 2012. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
  8. ^ Limnios, Michalis (2013-07-25). "An Interview with Tracy Nelson one of the signature artist of american music and a fountain of human soul". Blues.Gr. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
  9. ^ "Blues Music Awards Nominees - 2013 - 34th Blues Music Awards". Retrieved 2013-03-21.
  10. ^ "Dylan, Cash, And The Nashville Cats Album Release Concert". Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved 2016-06-05.
  11. ^ "HSB2016". Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
  12. ^ "Tracy Nelson with Mariachi Mestizo 2016 HSBG at GGP". YouTube. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
  13. ^ "Tracy Nelson". Bandsintown. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  14. ^ "2016 Southern New Mexico Wine Festival". New Mexico Wine And Grape Growers Association. Retrieved 2016-06-05.
  15. ^ "Lineup Announced for 2017 King Biscuit Blues Festival". American Blues Scene. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  16. ^ "The Bel Airs". The Bel Airs. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  17. ^ "Tracy Nelson". Rounder Records. Retrieved 2018-01-17.
  18. ^ "The Trevor Sewell Band". Trevor Sewell. Retrieved 2018-01-17.

External links[edit]