Home Read Now Hear This: Nora Jean Wallace | Blueswoman

Now Hear This: Nora Jean Wallace | Blueswoman

I'm getting caught up on the good albums that have come out lately. Like this one.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Blueswoman is the new CD from Blues Music Award-nominated singer Nora Jean Wallace — and her long-awaited sophomore album return, arriving some 16 years after her 2004 critically acclaimed and prophetically titled sophomore release Going Back to Mississippi.

“I left the blues scene to take care of my mom who was sick at the time (she has since passed),” Wallace explains. “From the cotton fields of Mississippi to the bright and steamy windows of Chicago blues, she always supported me. I think a part of her felt guilty because I had to leave what I loved doing the most to take care of her. And although she’s gone, she’s still with me. I thank God for all she instilled me. She always told me to put God first, never quit and everything else will fall in place.

“During a very low period in my career, a friend reminded me that the Bible says your gifts will make room for you. When I gave serious thought to that which I already knew, I never looked back. Slowly but surely my gifts indeed have made, and continue to make, room for me and this project is living proof of that. Here I am in 2020 embarking on a renewed career in blues. The gifts that have made room for me have come in the form of creative people who’ve helped me pave a new path in the blues. I believe God had a hand in it all and has placed people in my life to make me better, stronger and more determined to do what I love best … sing the blues.”

Blueswoman shows why Nora was born to sing the blues. A staple of the Chicago scene, Nora Jean pours her heart into eight originals including the Koko Taylor-inspired title track I’m a Blues Woman and Rag and Bucket, co-written with Stanley Banks. The Syl Johnson classic I Can’t Stop and George Jackson’s Evidence are great canvases for Nora’s powerful gift. No wonder the Taylor is quoted as saying, “Nora Jean sounds just like I did when I was her age!”

Like so many blues greats that hail from the Mississippi Delta, Nora was born and raised in Greenwood, a town in the heart of this blues-rich region. Her father Bobby Lee Wallace, a professional blues singer and sharecropper, and her uncle Henry “Son” Wallace, a blues singer and guitar player, infused the blues in her soul. Also contributing to her musical education was her mother, Ida Lee Wallace, a gospel singer, and her grandmother Mary, who ran a juke house. As a child, Nora would sneak down to her grandmother’s place on Friday and Saturday nights and listen to her relatives sing blues classics. It was during these years that Nora developed a love for the music of Howlin’ Wolf that has continued to the present day.

Nora’s singing career in Chicago began in 1976 when her Aunt Rose heard her sing at home and brought her to several clubs she was promoting. It was at the Majestic on the West Side of Chicago that Nora sat in with Scottie and the Oasis. She was invited to join the band and spent several years with them before Scottie’s unfortunate passing. Nora’s big break came in 1985 when Jimmy Dawkins saw her perform at a local Chicago club and invited her to join his band. For the next seven years Nora toured and recorded with Jimmy and his band and appeared on two of his CDs. She also released a single, Untrue Lover and her first solo release in 2002, Nora Jean Bruso Sings the Blues.

Nora has lived a life full of passion and pain, triumph and despair, and with it has come a wisdom out of which art is born. Living involves pain but offers redemption as well. That is what the blues is all about. “Seems like this day would never come, but … I’ve been able to once again share my voice with fans and the blues community that I’ve grown to love.”