This album from “The Blues Queen of New Orleans,” was recorded in Switzerland in 1994, and its domestic release is long overdue.
Fans who’ve been hungering for the material Wright frequently sings on her gigs, and a follow up to her stellar Born With Blues CD, won’t be disappointed in Bluesiana Mama. Utilizing her road band at the time—bassist Benny Turner, guitarist Dallas Smith, keyboardist Joe Krown, and drummer Earl Smith—and the production hand of zydeco wizard Lynn August, Wright displays the versatility and commanding pipes that suit the blues like a glove.
The CD opens with Marva’s mission statement, “Bluesiana Mama,” and from there it’s a solid program of blues classics. Wright tackles Ruth Brown’s “Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean,” Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” (complete with a spoken-word intro packed with local landmarks), and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On.”
No matter how many times you’ve heard these songs before, it’s a testament to the unbridled power of Wright’s voice that she sings each one with unwavering passion and commitment, squeezing out new meaning—and a gender twist—to familiar refrains like “Little Red Rooster.”
The highlight of the CD is Marva’s version of “Go Tell it on the Mountain.” Her gospel upbringing, and spiritual kinship to Mahalia Jackson, takes the CD to church in a refreshing change of pace. Blues purists may shudder at the thought of hearing one more version of a song like “Let the Good Times Roll,” but this CD is ultimately about one woman’s remarkable voice. Rave on, Marva.