I arrived in the U.S. at nearly nine years old, speaking very little English and having no idea that there was anything to music beyond the classical composers to whom I had been exposed by my parents. I had cut my teeth on Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Richard Strauss, and Wagner. Imagine how my mind was blown, hearing American Rock ‘n’ Roll for the first time…jazz…and blues. I felt an immediate and visceral connection to this new-to-me musical language in a way which rooted me to my American heritage just as my German upbringing connected me to Mozart and Richard Strauss. My love of this “lesser” music bewildered and frustrated my mother, who to this day prides herself on not knowing a Beatles song if it hit her in the face (and to being the only person on the face of the planet who CAN actually “eat just one” Lays potato chip — but I digress). What irony that I am slated to participate in an exciting and visionary NYFOS program of Schubert and Beatles songs in December! What’s next, Clara Schumann juxtaposed with Joni Mitchell? It’s a world gone mad, Mom.
Sippie Wallace was a singer whose work I got to know through her duet of “Women Be Wise” with Bonnie Raitt on a now well-worn CD called “The Bonnie Raitt Collection.” I still remember the day a college friend (director Alex Lippard) brought the song to my dorm room. My world shifted upon hearing the blues laid down simply, with grace, hurt, and humor, and I have been a fan of both singers ever since. Wallace was one of Raitt’s mentors early on, so I was tempted to post the duet with Raitt, where an aged Sippie Wallace is still singing up a storm and interjecting on the off-verse with her emphatic “yeah”. I adore Sippie’s knock-out live solo performance too much, however, not to put it as my first selection for the NYFOS Song of the Day. In my mind, she is truly the Queen of the Blues.
Repost from July 13, 2015