23rd - 25th AUGUST 2019
1 GREAT FESTIVAL
GET TO KNOW… MA BESSIE
Ma Bessie & her Pig Foot band mix classic blues and jazz tunes from the inter-war years, with a selection of original songs and hand-picked covers from the last 50 years of popular music.
Here we chat to Ma Bessie about performing on stage as a child, her new album release and… pig feet.
Q: Please tell us one thing we may not know about you.
A: I am 1 of 11 children
Q: What is your musical background (and are you self-taught)?
A: I have been singing from the age of 4, I was tutored by an Opera singer at the age of 10, and I used to sing to my Dad’s music collection as he was a DJ. I had a singing tutor but I have developed all my different sounds and appreciation of many genres including Gospel, Jazz, Blues, Reggae, Ska and Soca.
Q: What kind of music were you brought up listening to?
A: Reggae, Ska and Country music.
Q: Who do you look up to as an artist?
A: Pass – I don’t look up to anyone but I admire the work of Eva Cassidy and Beres Hammond.
Q: When it comes to writing songs, what circumstances or events give you inspiration?
A: My own life events and disasters. A lot of my songs are from my personal story, past loves and events that have changed things for the better or worse.
Q: Which one of your songs means the most to you?
A: ‘I Forgot To Say I Love You’ because I wrote it for the victims of the twin towers disaster as a poem and turned it into song after my cousin was murdered in Jamaica by a Police officer and I had to sing it at his funeral. It is a universal song.
Q: In terms of your shows, what is your favourite track to perform live and why?
A: For the Bessie Smith Show I love singing them all but if I had to pick one it would be ‘Send me to the ‘lectric chair’, because it so could have been my experience!
Q: What’s been the most memorable time of your musical career?
A: When I first sang on a professional stage along with Mary Hopkin, Allan Love and Michael Cashman, among others, in a show called the Rock Nativity – I was only 10 years old but knew that is where I wanted to be. Ted Green (choreographer) said “my eyes sparkled every time I am on the stage”.
Q: What else do you have in store for the rest of this year?
Lots of shows with the Blues Troupe telling the Bessie Smith Story and I want to start performing more of my own songs. I am just about to release an album called “No Faith” which takes my music in yet another direction.
Q: What’s the history/story behind the name Pig Foot?
A: A friend who has a band called The Original Rabbit Foot Spasm Band suggested it at first. It comes from Bessie Smith’s song called “Gimme A Pig Foot And A Bottle of Beer”, recorded in 1933 and it was one of her songs from her last recording date.
Q: When and why did you fall in love with the Empress of The Blues?
A: Andy Wilkin from Beggars Belief introduced me to ‘Careless Love’ when I studying for my Performing Arts Degree over 20 years ago. The rest is history.
Ma Bessie plays the Mini Muni | Saturday | 3:00pm