Velvet (born December 29, 1968, Omaha, Nebraska) is an American
blues and soul singer, best known for her unconventional entrance into the
music industry .
Redd velvet grew up in Monroeville, Alabama singing in her grandfather's
church. Early experience singing gospel gave her a powerful, earthy voice
compared to Gladys Knight and Mavis Staples. A local choral teacher
discovered her at age 12 singing in the school chorus and encouraged her to
pursue classical training. At 18 Redd began intense vocal coaching under the
tutelage of Mildred Allen, a principle artist with The New York Metropolitan
Opera and world renowned baritone Andrew Gainey who encouraged her to pursue
a career in classical music.
During a visit to 'Memphis in May' in 2009 Redd met songwriter Earl Randall
and legendary Hi Records producer Willie Mitchell. Mitchell and Randall
heard a demo of Redd's cover of O.V Wright's 'Searching' which had been
penned by Randle himself. On their advice she relocated to Memphis,
Tennessee and launched her career. Upon her arrival in Memphis she founded
Big Daddy's Baddass Band as her backing band and garnered the attention of
the local blues community as the first African-American woman to lead a band
in the Memphis Blues Challenge. She advanced to the finals of the 2010
competition and again made local blues history as the first African-American
woman to lead a band to place in the band category.
Redd Velvet recorded and released her first album 'Womanhood 101' in
December 2010 on the Banana Pudding Music label she founded when she refused
to sign a conventional recording contract. 'Womanhood 101' was critically
acclaimed as the beginning of an interesting and potentially important
chapter in contemporary blues by Living Blues Magazine.
Although Redd is most noted for her rebellion against conventional music
industry practices, she has also been recognized for her work as both a
registered nurse and social activist for causes such as domestic violence,
women's rights, and child abuse. In 2010 Redd Velvet founded Music Heals
Memphis, Incorporated,a non profit organization focused on providing health
and social services for musicians, promoting racial harmony and the
preservation of blues and soul music.
In March 2011 Redd Velvet became the first blueswoman to create and host a
radio talkshow. The show was created to meet public demand from loyal
followers of her posts on a social networking site. The Little Redd
Schoolhouse debuted on March 3, 2011 on WMQM a Memphis based radio station.
Redd Velvet has been nominated as 'Best New Female Artist of The Year' for
2011 by the Jus' Blues Foundation.