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B.B. King once said, “The blues are simple. Anyone can play them. But would you want to hear anyone play them?” Diva and singer extraordinaire Kate Hart certainly makes it sound simple and natural when she opens her mouth to let the blues flow out, but the results are absolutely something you want to hear. Defiant, exuberant, sassy, celebratory and sensual, Hart ranges from rural to urban, uptown to downtown, on her sumptuous new release, Alone Again with Friends.
Kathleen Hart was born in Detroit, Michigan on October 11, 1951. She soaked up the vibrant, vital music coming out of Motor City in the early 1960s including that of Bob Seger, Mitch Ryder and Motown artists like Gladys Knight while studying with vocal teachers. Likewise, the great women blues, R&B and rock singers of the era such as Maggie Bell, Bonnie Bramlett and Genya Raven also influenced her to just up and audition for the heavy metal band Raw Flesh in 1968. She scored the gig but shortly thereafter ran off to Chicago for siren call of the hardcore blues of everyone from Koko Taylor to Muddy Waters and Denise LaSalle and Irma Thomas. She came back briefly to Detroit in 1972 to record the single “Syncopated Love” for Stag Records.
Always restless and wildly ambitious, Hart headed west, eventually ending up in the Northwest where she would form the acclaimed all-star revue Seattle Women in 1985. By that time her prodigious talents were being acknowledged with an amazing number of awards and in 1990 she released her Grammy-nominated debut solo album, Tonight I Want It All. In 2000 she released the appropriately-titled Queen of the Night to raves along with the double Grammy-nominated rock album Lucy Mongrel featuring her alter ego. Hart returned home to Detroit in 2003 where she quickly established herself as a singing force of nature and also convened the award-winning group Detroit Women. Besides her numerous musical projects, she has also been pursuing acting and writing as well as entrepreneurship with a line of women’s products.
Alone Again with Friends contains a panoramic selection of 14 original numbers. Backed to perfection by the Jewel Tones led by guitarist Doug Deming, Hart sashays through the “Scratch My Back” funk of “Bowin’ to the Main Man,” a classic woman’s lament and the strutting, gospelly “Two Plays for a Quarter” that lauds the healing power of the blues. “Bad Girl Blues” finds Hart all silk and satin as she pouts and swings her way through the jazzy changes in a way that would make Dinah Washington envious. In comparison, she pleads her case with a heavy heart like a modern day Memphis Minnie on the slow, slide guitar-driven “Living with Blues.”
As might be expected, the woman has a fine sense of humor as amply
displayed on “Boogie Woogie Food Menu” that channels Louis Jordan’s jive
and will leave you “hungry” for more. Likewise, “Albaturkey Blues” also
has fun with word play over a gracefully swinging groove. The hardest
rocking number is the Bo Diddley-inspired “You Can’t Go Up ‘til You’re
Done Goin’ Down” sporting a searing guitar solo and Hart’s nastiest
singing. A gracious leader, Hart allows her sidemen room to move, most
notably harmonicist Dave Morris, who is hip and tasty throughout,
particularly on the two Muddy-type songs; the medium shuffle “Backup
Man” and slow blues of “Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed.” The former
highlights Hart’s consistent knack for wry lyrics delivered with
smoldering passion and nuanced phrasing that is a hallmark of the
record. In an age where “great” blues singing is too often equated with
sheer volume and histrionics, it is refreshing and encouraging to hear a
truly great vocalist at the top of her game, instead of her lungs.
Awards and Accomplishments
Launched Michigan's only Voice Over Talent site