*Singer Barbara Morrison has been a trailblazer in the Jazz & Blues genre for the past 35 years, plus. With her first recorded appearance happening at the ripe age of 10 in Detroit.
As she celebrates her 60th birthday this month, Morrison is partying in style by inviting all of her friends to share the stage with her on September 12.
She’ll be singing the blues and telling the stories next Saturday at the John Anson Ford Theater in Los Angeles for the Barbara Morrison’s Jazz & Blues Birthday Party. Morrison is definitely 60 years young.
The fountain of youth must be located on a nearby blues stage. She never seems to stop touring. She has dates just days before her birthday show and did the world’s largest art and music festival in Scotland last spring.
“We had a wonderful trip,” she said. “We won the Angel Award from the Herald Newspaper for Outstanding Performance (at) the Fringe. The Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world. They have 35,000 performers from all over the world. It’s a large festival held in Scotland every year.”
Morrison said she’s played the Fringe for 13 years, and still has a great showing.
“This time I played a small venue,” she reported, “but I played every night. We sold out every night.
The songbird continued that the blues does quite well abroad, but it’s the States that give the genre, well … the blues.
“It’s doing OK here, but they just have so many festivals in Europe. They have over 400. One blues festival would pay for all the jazz festivals. That goes to show you how much people love the blues.” “I think the main problem is people look at it as being old,” she decided. “You’ve got to find out a way to reach the young people. We do have some that have grabbed hold of the music and they’ve even changed it and made it more youthful, but we’ve got to start thinking young songwriters as opposed to beating the old American songbook to death.” “It’s getting better because now we have it in the schools,” said the UCLA Ethnomusicology professor. “Before, you didn’t have jazz studies program at college or university.”
So in celebrating the genre and her 60th birthday, Morrison has invited an all-star lineup to meet up in Los Angeles for a spectacular concert performance. And though you never ask a lady her age, Morrison is shouting it from the rooftops.
“I’m the oldest living person in my family,” she said. “It’s time to celebrate. We consider it an honor to get past 50. It’s a celebrating of life, to me. I don’t care if you know how old I am. My old man always says, ‘You’re still in the game.’ I’m still in the game and people that do what I do live a long time, so I’m not afraid. Hell naw, I don’t care if you know how old I am.”
And as for celebrating in public, Morrison explained that it’s more than just about a birthday party. She said that the concert gives the public an opportunity to really see how musicians stick together and take care of each other.
“The people that are on the show are people that love me. They’re people that I’ve gone through the last 35 years with,” she said. “They’ve covered for me when I’ve been over in a foreign country and I couldn’t get back in time to do my gig. These people give me a gig when I can’t make it. I think the public should see that and hear these stories that are going to be told about how musicians take care of each other; the camaraderie among musicians.”
Among the comradeship confirmed for the event are jazz and legends Gerald Wilson, Bill Henderson, James Moody, Tierney Sutton with Mel Carter, and Freda Payne just to name a few.
“Keb Mo said he might drop by,” Morrison added. “I’m opening and closing the show. It’s going to be the biggest jam you ever saw! It’s guaranteed to be a blockbuster.”
For more on blues legend Barbara Morrison and her September 12 birthday bash, visit www.barbaramorrison.com.
Here’s Barbara doing the classic ‘Everyday I Have The Blues’: