less a music industry legend than Jerry Wexler, co-founder of Atlantic
Records, called E.C. Scott "one honest-to-God soul singer." High praise
indeed from the man who produced Aretha Franklin,
Ray Charles, and
Wilson Pickett! Blues and R&B diva E.C. Scott possesses a warm, inviting
voice and a delivery that can be smooth and sultry one minute and sassy
and sexy the next. She can mesmerize a crowd down to a whisper or rock
them into a loud frenzy.
Masterpiece, Scott's most recent release and
her third on the Blind Pig label, is easily her most accomplished effort
to date, brilliantly showcasing her special blend of R&B and
soul-inflected blues. And with eleven of the twelve songs originals, it
also spotlights her considerable talent as a songwriter. Stereo
Review called E.C.'s
songwriting "Brass tacks poetry that is witty, often ribald, sometimes
sweet, and always perceptive."
E.C. Scott has developed her own style, a refreshingly original and
distinctively modern approach. Her enticing, rich voice, hook-laden
arrangements, and intelligent, at times humorous, lyrics come together
to produce songs that aren't easily forgotten. "I want my music to have
that old R&B flavor but with a new sound," she says. While growing up in
Oakland, California, E.C. spent most of her time singing in St. John
Missionary Baptist Church. Later, witnessing performances by gospel
singers Shirley Caesar and Inez Andrews left a strong impression on her.
"I thought their world was fascinating and I wanted to be part of it,"
says Scott. For E.C., singing became a "way of releasing, and, hearing
myself sing was a form of entertainment." Her mother wouldn't let her
listen to "worldly" music, as she called it, but later, via her older
sisters' radio, "I was introduced to the hip stuff. I always wanted to
do that, but it was so taboo. I felt I'd go blind or I'd be crippled the
next day if I sang blues. I shied away from that for many, many years."
Nonetheless, she loved listening to R&B music by artists such as Gladys
Knight, Dinah Washington,
Bobby Bland, and
Clarence Carter. At the young
age of 16, E. C. began singing in nightclubs, quickly developed a
following, and was being talked up as one of the area's rising stars.
But Scott's ambitions for a singing career were soon put on hold to
marry and raise her family. She decided to resume her career when her
children were 8 and 10. "I just sat them down and told them, 'Look, this
is something I was doing before you met me and I'd like to start singing
again.' They thought it was a great idea and told me to go for it.
They've been behind me all the way. They've been a great help."
E.C. started out singing jazz, but, "I had too much energy for jazz. I'd
finish my show and want to go find someone else's show to sing in." Soon
she drifted back to R&B, where she felt "back at home, and I've been
there ever since." E.C.'s growing reputation allowed her to share the
stage with Lou Rawls, Ray Charles, Patti La Belle, Jr. Walker and the
All Stars, John Lee Hooker, and the Ohio Players. E.C. Scott and her
band Smoke built a strong following in the San Francisco Bay Area with
their dynamic performances at local clubs and a year long stint as the
house band at Slim's, at the time San Francisco's premier blues
nightspot. In 1991 fervent fans backed E.C.'s first recording, a single
("Just Dance" b/w "Let's Make It Real") that sold amazingly well for a
local, self-financed project. Scott's crowd-pleasing prowess makes her
equally welcome at tony high-society gigs as well as the rowdiest blues
dive. In one year alone, E.C. performed at Grand Openings for the San
Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Ballet, and the San Francisco
Opera, as well as at the City's formal Black & White Ball. She's also
wowed audiences at a number of blues festival stages around the country
and built a strong reputation as a consummate performer.
In the fall of 1994, E.C. realized a childhood dream when she signed a
multi-record deal with Blind Pig Records. Says Scott, "As a singer,
being able to be an actual recording artist means living my dream. To
me, a recording artist is someone who sings original material, who is a
pacesetter. And it means that I'll be a part of history, which I love."
Her 1995 debut release, Come
Get Your Love, with its highly original material and infectious
grooves, quickly captured the attention and praise of the blues
community. Blues Revue said,
"Scott has one of the sexiest, smoothest, and most understated
deliveries in the genre and is a powerhouse entertainer to boot. E.C. is
a wonderful soul singer and an effective and invigorating blues
Blues added, "E.C. Scott
must be ranked among the best of the promising female blues singers in
recent years." Many critics noted that she was a singer, not merely a
shouter, who sang with grace and control as well as passion. And her
self-described "blues with a hip-hop flavor" marked her as a creative
R&B vocal stylist on the cutting edge of the blues.
On her next CD, entitled Hard
Act To Follow and
released in 1998, E.C. continued to deliver the goods with flair and
style. Downbeat gave
it a four-star review, noting, "Scott cooks up a lusty set of bumping
barrelhouse blues, thumb-slapping funk, gutsy circa-'60s rhythm & blues,
and a couple of soul beauties. Equally impressive is Scott's
songwriting, informed by contemporary issues."Stereo Review praised
it thus: "At a time when so many singers sound tortured and too many
song-writers have nothing to say, E.C. Scott is a fresh blast from the
past." The national blues publication Blues
Access added, "If you're
casting director on a Broadway show about a great blues songstress,
select as your star E.C. Scott. Those in your audience who know blues
will applaud, while the others will give her good reviews for her
ballads, soul and R&B."
E.C. got 1999 off to a good start by receiving a W.C. Handy nomination
for Soul/Blues Female Artist of the Year. Her recognition as a singer
and performer extraordinaire was further enhanced by a string of
memorable appearances on stages across the country, including a rousing
appearance at the San Francisco Blues Festival, on which the San
Francisco Examiner reported,
"Oakland's fantastically powerful and soulful vocalist E.C. Scott just
flat out scorched through the fog." With her artistry, her engaging,
exciting stage presence, and her new Masterpiece,
E.C. Scott will no doubt be adding substantial numbers of devoted fans
to her following.