"Ladies Sing The Blues" - An Incredible Musical Evening starring The Legendary Bay Area Ladies Of Song

(In Alphabetical Order)

with Tammy Hall, Musical Director
Kim Nalley

  • Wednesday, September 11, 2013 • 8pm
  • Thursday, September 12, 2013 • 8pm
  • Friday, September 13, 2013 • 8pm
  • Saturday, September 14, 2013 • 7pm
  • Saturday, September 14, 2013 • 9:30pm
  • Sunday, September 15, 2013 • 7pm
LADY MEM'FIS, born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, rose to fame as a "Bluesy Belter" on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, while still in her teens.  At 17, she met the legendary Billy Tate and recorded on his label (Tulane Recording).  She now resides in San Francisco, California.  Mem'fis has performed at The Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay and Ritz Carlton in San Francisco, Marriott Hotel, San Francisco, 1300, Paris Affaire, Yoshis in San Francisco and Oakland, Fifth Amendment, Jazz at Pearl's and other venues.  She has been the opening act for such artists as, Irma Thomas, Otis Redding, The Four Tops, Hank Crawford, and Ray Charles.  Mem'fis has worked with just about every major artist (legends and divas) in the Bay Area......Brenda Boykin, Denise Perrier, Frankye Kelly, Kim Nalley, Faye Carroll, Tammy Hall, Glen Pearson, John Moriority, James Campbell, Mike Bacile, Ron Belcher, Mark Williams, Chuck Bennett, Michael Zisman, Ranzel Merritt, Mark Lee, Robert Stewart, Bobby Tynes, Don Ramsey, Mal Sharpe and The Gumbo Band, Snakebite and numerous others.

This is where it all started! Do you remember your very first memory? Some people say they can remember as far back as the crib. Others say they're doing good if they can remember what happened just yesterday. My earliest memory is when my mother was giving birth to my dear sister, Joyce. I was two and a half years old. I remember being pushed outside, onto the back porch, and told to stay there. I couldn't understand why I wasn't allowed in the house. I stood in the middle of the yard, lonely, in a back yard so big it seemed to swallow me up. I looked up at the sky feeling so small and alone. I remember saying to myself, "Sing." I started spinning around and around. I was dancing and singing all over that yard. I danced and sang until I felt happy again. I was singing for life, my life and my new baby sister's life. I am the fourth child of seven and have been singing since forever.

I started singing in church, Mount Zion First Baptist, at the ripe old age of four. I will never forget an incident that happened when I was in the first grade. An older student came into the classroom and gave a note to my teacher, Mrs. McKinley. She looked at me and said, "Go with her to the principal's office." I was frightened to death. All the kids in the classroom were looking at me and laughing. They were saying things like, "Oooooh, you in trouble. You gon' git a whippin'." I was so scared. I hadn't done anything wrong, (that is, not at school.)

I followed the older student to the principal's office. I walked in the door with my head down and I heard these words. "Look at my little Black Gal. Come here and give me a kiss." I looked up and there was this beautiful woman, Mrs. Simmons. This was the lady who played piano at the church. I didn't know she was a teacher at this school. I went to her and she hugged me and gave me a big kiss on the cheek. She asked me did I remember her and I said yes. She told me that she wanted me to sing and dance in the school's Operetta. I was so happy. I went back to class, with my head up. I was somebody. All the kids looked at me for some telltale sign of tears, fear and pain. I didn't look left or right. I went straight to my desk and sat down with a little smile playing on my face.

KIM NALLEY, Awarded "Most Influential African American in the Bay Area", is already being called "legendary" and "San Francisco institution." With an international reputation as one of world's best jazz & blues vocalists, she is known for her ability to turn a chattering cocktail-sipping crowd into a rapt audience of lifelong fans in minutes. No trip to San Francisco is complete without seeing Kim Nalley perform.

In looks, Kim Nalley exudes the aura of a diva from a by-gone era. Vocally, she has pipes to burn packing a 3 1/2 octave range that can go from operatic to gritty blues on a dime, projection that can whisper a ballad yet is capable of filling a room with no microphone, and the ability to scat blistering solos without ever losing the crowd's interest or the intense swing. She has been compared to all the greats, but in the end, it's Kim Nalley and no one else - an unforced instrument with clarity and jazzy musicality, effortlessly delivered, and a sense of humor to boot.

A born singer from a family that boasts several generations of jazz musicians, Nalley was taught piano by her great-grandmother and studied opera and theatre in high school, before relocating to San Francisco in the footsteps of the Grateful Dead. Working her way through college by singing in small dives and jam sessions, Nalley learned all of the intricacies of jazz the old fashioned way. Music critic Phil Elwood and SF Symphony director Michael Tilson Thomas quickly discovered Kim Nalley and brought her to national attention after they noticed her singing nightly at the Alta Plaza to packed audiences - without amplification.

Since then, Kim Nalley has performed globally, including major jazz festivals such as Monterey, Umbria Jazz and Lincoln Center and lived in Europe for several years before returning to San Francisco to re-open the jazz club Jazz at Pearl's. During her tenure from 2003 to 2008, Nalley raised the club to iconic international acclaim as the owner and artistic director. She has collaborated with artists such as Rhoda Scott, David "Fathead" Newman, Houston Person, James Williams, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. She has recorded several on both major and indie labels, including She Put A Spell On Me, which was short-listed for a 2006 Grammy Award, and Million Dollar Secret, which charted in the Jazz Top 40.

Nalley often combines music and history to create historiographical concerts , including her award-winning "Ladies Sing the Blues*," "She Put a Spell on Me: Tribute to Nina Simone," the multimedia presentation Black History Month Concert Series and "The Heart of Lady Day," a Billie Holiday biopic. As a playwright she has written "Ella: the American Dream" a bio-musical about Ella Fitzgerald which premiered in 2008. As an actress she portrayed Billie Holiday in the dramatic play "Lady Day in Love," Blues Speak woman in Zora Neale Hurston's "Spunk" and has starred in Teatro Zinzanni as Madame Zinzanni, a role subsequently filled by Joan Baez and Sandra Reeves-Phillips.

Kim Nalley is on faculty at the Jazzschool's Bachelor's of Music program. She is also a history student in UC Berkeley's PhD program with plans to write her dissertation on the Globalization of Jazz and Black Cultural Politics. Her academic experience in both music and history combined with her stature as a performing artist brings a whole new level to the description of "triple threat."

A true Renaissance woman, Kim has been credited with "saving jazz in the Bay Area" -to try and find someone with more range of genuine talent would be a daunting task.

GOD, CAN THIS WOMAN SING! It's as if a vocalist from the great post-war blues and jazz combos had been transported to the end of the century." Blues Access Magazine

"Nalley is the best singer, any style, I have heard in years. Phil Elwood- San Francisco Examiner

"KIM, UNA PRIMADONNA DALLA VOCE PROFUNDA!Last year it was Roy Hargrove, this year it is the splendid voice of Kim Nalley that is driving the fans wild at Umbria Jazz. Her voice gives you goosebumps. She is like Jessica Rabbit and Louis Armstrong at the same time." Il Corriere dell'Umbria

"Kim Nalley has pipes to burn and works the stage like she means it." San Francisco Chronicle

"Sultry voiced Kim Nalley brings an irresistibly sexy sense of swing, rhythmic dexterity and beautiful sound to the classic, with her crisp diction and playful delivery of earthy lines." Down Beat

"Glamorous, garrulous, dramatic, like a diva of the 1950s . . . Kim Nalley is dazzling. . . you could hear an olive drop into a martini." San Francisco Magazine

DENISE PERRIER has spent most of her thirty-year career performing in the San Francisco Bay Area and touring Europe, Latin America and Asia. With her latest CD, "The Second Time Around," with guest Houston Person, she has moved to a higher level of artistry and popularity. Harkening back to the time when a singer told the story and left the rest to the instrumentalists, Denise has a very welcoming straight-ahead style, concentrating on the standards and adding blues and Latin for variety. Her musical configuration, Denise connects with audiences…that’s her forte.

She has been called “the voice with a heart.”

Blessed with a rich contralto voice and the abililty to sing ballads and blues with equal artistry, Denise has performed in theatrical and "In the House of the Blues," in which she portrayed Bessie Smith; and the vaudeville “One Mo’ Time.” She was featured in the Grammy-nominated CD, "Color Me Blue," with Brother Jack McDuff and has produced four CDs: "The Second Time Around" (2008), "I Wanna Be Loved" (1997), also with Houston Person, and "East Meets West" (2001) which includes sides performed in Russia. In 2004, she came out with "Live at Yoshi's; Blue Monday Party," which received much critical acclaim and reached high on the jazz charts.

Denise was born in Louisiana but moved to the East Bay Area with her family at the age of five. Denise didn't sing extensively in church, but her family had a jukebox, and she heard records by Billie Holiday and the other great early jazz singers. Denise started singing in public when she was in a Haitian and Afro-Cuban dance group, obtaining her first professional engagement with a vocal ensemble called the Intervals. Louis Armstrong saw the group and put them in his entourage for a performance in Las Vegas. Shortly afterwards, Denise was recruited for a three-month gig in Australia, which turned into an extended stay in the Far East.

She performed in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Taiwan, Formosa, Japan, Guam, and other Asian cities, staying for almost five years with Hong Kong as her home base. She also spent a year and a half in Vietnam during the war touring military bases. Denise returned to the United States, lived in New York for five years, and then settled in San Francisco, where she has beoome one of its most popular performers.