The Robert Cray Band & Marc Cohn
Featuring Special Guest Vocalists Blind Boys of Alabama
with Special Guest Shemekia Copeland
Robert Cray has been bridging the lines between blues, soul and R&B for the past four decades, with five Grammy wins, an induction into the Blues Hall of Fame, an Americana Lifetime achievement award, countless tours and over 20 acclaimed albums. Growing up in the Northwest, Robert Cray listened to the gospel of the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, Bobby Bland’s soul, Jimi Hendrix’s rock guitar and the Beatles pop sounds. The Cray Band’s beginnings did bring the sounds of its mentors into the mainstream, even taking the music of John Lee Hooker, Etta James and Albert Collins to a larger, younger audience. Blues and soul fans showed up religiously at the Cray Band gigs, but those steamy raucous sets also drew crowds whose tastes in music ranged from rock to funk and jazz. With the 1986 release of Strong Persuader, the Cray Band’s tunes were put in heavy rotation on mega rock stations across the nation. The first hit, “Smoking Gun,” was followed by “I Guess I Showed Her” and “Right Next Door (Because of Me).” Cray was the first African American artist since Jimi Hendrix to rise to such fame in rock music. The group’s most recent recordings, Nothing But Love and In My Soul, put the band back on the Billboard Charts.
After winning a Grammy Award for his soulful ballad “Walking in Memphis,” Marc Cohn solidified his place as one of this generation’s most compelling singer-songwriters, combining the precision of a brilliant tunesmith with the passion of a great soul man. Rooted in the rich ground of American rhythm and blues, soul and gospel and possessed of a deft storyteller’s pen, he weaves vivid, detailed, often drawn-from-life tales that evoke some of our most universal human feelings: love, hope, faith, joy, heartbreak. Time Magazine called him "one of the honest, emotional voices we need in this decade" and Bonnie Raitt declared, "Marc is one of the most soulful, talented artists I know. I love his songs, he's an incredible singer, and I marvel at his ability to mesmerize every audience he plays for." Marc revisited another corner of American music’s rich heritage with the Blind Boys of Alabama on the Grammy-nominated song “Let My Mother Live.”
Hailed as "gospel titans" by Rolling Stone Magazine, the Blind Boys of Alabama first rose to fame in the segregated south with their thrilling vocal harmonies and roof-raising live show. Their 70-year recording career would see them rack up five Grammy Awards (plus one for Lifetime Achievement), enter the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, collaborate with everyone from Mavis Staples and Stevie Wonder to Prince and Lou Reed, and perform on the world's most prestigious stages. The New York Times said they "came to epitomize what is known as jubilee singing, a livelier breed of gospel music," adding that "they made it zestier still by adding jazz and blues idioms and turning up the volume, creating a sound…like the rock 'n' roll that grew out of it." Their latest album, Almost Home, recounts the band's remarkable journey primarily through original songs written for them by an outstanding collection of artists including Valerie June, the North Mississippi Allstars, Phil Cook, John Leventhal, Marc Cohn, and Ruthie Foster among others. This 12-track collection captures the band's singular spirit and pulls off the masterful feat of looking backwards while still sounding as vital and modern as ever.
Shemekia Copeland never holds back. Her instantly recognizable voice—capable of being sultry, assertive and roaring—delivers every song with unparalleled honesty and passion. Her wide-open vision of contemporary Americana roots and soul music showcases the evolution of a passionate artist with an up-to-the-minute musical and lyrical approach. With her new Alligator Records album, America’s Child, Copeland confidently announces an electrifying new chapter in her constantly evolving story. Produced by Americana Instrumentalist Of The Year winner Will Kimbrough (who also plays guitar on the album) and recorded in Nashville, America’s Child is a courageous and fiery statement of purpose, a major step forward for the singer whose musical consciousness continues to expand as her star continues to rise.