Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page
Tattooed Amazonian Blues singer/song-writer Lee Sappho was a ‘late starter’ to the blues at the age of 32. Already a single Mum of two this Australian born musician has proven that with determination and hard work dreams can and do come true. Within two short years her first recording ‘Big Bad Momma’ had sold out and numerous performances put her name out as a force to be reckoned with on both the local and national blues scene. By 1996 Lee found herself recording at Planet Studio with such blues luminaries as Phil Manning (Guitar) Bob Patient (Keys) Howie Smallman (Harp) Ric Whittle (Drums) and Roy Daniel (Bass). Soon this independent release was winning awards (WA Blues Awards 1996) and gaining numerous nominations. ‘Big Girls Blues’ featuring 12 original tracks immediately enjoyed regular air time on ABC radio and Blues and Roots programs across the nation. As did CD sales, which reached an unprecedented high for a local release.
Sappho was soon invited to support International visiting artists John Hammond, Charlie Musselwhite and the late Johnny Johnson. She has been a special guest with Matt Taylor (Chain) and with Dave Hole at his Metro’s City CD launch, where Dave performed one of her original numbers. Other notable performances include many invitations to ‘Blues at Bridgetown’ from its inauguration, closing 2 of its chapters. The Perth Festival Club in 1996 and ‘98 and the riotous Adelaide Festival Club in 2000. Performing with Sydney’s Foreday Riders 2001 and the Mundaring Weir Concert Series from 2000-3. Headlining numerous blues events at Fremantle’s Fly By Night Club including Spoonful of Blues. Coordinating and comparing ‘Harp Attack’ (also at the ‘Fly’) in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Inspiring the Mundaring Weir concert series in 1998 with her annual ‘Blues in the Night’ events, featuring many great blues acts including herself. A board member of the Perth Jazz Society for some time Lee coordinated their annual Women in Jazz performance. An invitation by RTRFM station manager Kath Letch to present ‘Spoonful of Blues’ her vast blues knowledge giving her ample opportunity to interview visiting blues artists including Junior Wells, John Hammond, Leo Kotke and many others. Worked with RTRFM for 5 years, while also doing a weekly guest spot on ABC local radio from 1999 to 2003. In 1997 ‘Sappho Sings the Blues’ a play launched by Deckchair Theatre, and co-written with Robyn Archer gets rave reviews. 1996 -2000 co-president of the Musicians Union. And has received several WAMI nominations for band, vocal and song-writing. (And doesn’t mind admitting she was pipped each time by Dave Hole!)
A background in dance (State Champion by age 8) and a career (in a previous life) as a counselor/group-worker Sappho’s workshops are holistic and often ‘spiritual’ in their approach. Her workshops include song-writing and ‘Follow your dream to music’. She has done these locally and rurally, for festivals, (Primary & High) schools and a number of town councils.
Known as the Diva in the Fish-Tail gown, Sappho’s blues while in keeping with the often Sassy tradition of women’s blues is raw, often raucous and always honest. Her popular, funny lyrics are poignant and get to the matter of the human condition – and the way we treat each other. Her sound and style could be likened to that of Chicago Blues, but is of course uniquely Australian and always accessible. Her lyrics are every woman’s and every man’s.