“As a child the radio was my favorite toy. I sat in front of it whenever I could, listening to pop music and would sing along on WTIX that played local artists, Irma Thomas, Dr. John, the Meters and all of Allen Toussaint’s material, Ernie K-Doe. I also listened to big pop stars like Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and all those other great artists coming up in the ’70s.
When I was six, my older brother started a band and I used to go to their rehearsals and sit in, listen and dream of singing and he took me to my first Jazz Fest in 1976 when I was 12. I was instantly smitten and thought to myself, ‘Wow, I want to be up there one day!’ Also, as a child my older sister often took me to Paul Sanchez’ house. He had a band and they would sit around, playing the guitar and piano and everyone would sing. I loved it! But my father died when I was nine and our mother, as a single parent, always struggled financially so I could never get music or dance lessons and performing remained only a dream.
But in 2000 I met Tom Turner who was looking for someone to sing his songs and thought to myself, ‘I’d love to do that,’ and joined his band. After Katrina, I started Lil Red & Big Bad, with Charlie Hermann (guitar), Sandy Maillho (bass) and Donald Wightkin (drums) and played on the West Bank at Bourres, Big Al’s and Peggy Sue’s. One evening I went to the Deckbar to hear Jeff Ruello’s Juke Joint Jam and sat in with him for an open mike session and really got my feet wet singing the blues.
In 2009, the Voodoo Blues Krewe Challenge was announced and Jeff wanted to do it and we seriously started looking for more material. Jeff, in addition to writing some great songs, seriously contributed to our repertoire, coming up with a lot of older, little known songs that I could, literally, make into my own as they were unfamiliar to most people (‘Cryin’ For My Baby’ and ‘It’s Your Voodoo Working’). We also chose some Ruth Brown material as I had always loved her. Jeff has more numbers he wants to develop and adapt, but finding the time is sometimes difficult as we both have jobs.
With the blues, you can inject your own soul and style into that music and just go with it! I love being out there, engaging with the people who come to New Orleans to hear good music and have a good time and look forward to singing on the ‘big stage’ and sharing our music.”