This page is dedicated to the fabulous Seattle Women: Nancy Claire, L.J. Porter, Kathi McDonald, Patti Allen, and your hostess, Kate Hart.
How it all started…
“AS FAR AS WE WERE CONCERNED, THEY WERE ALL JUST BLUES SINGERS, AND WE DIDN’T PAY THEM NO MIND. THEY DIDN’T MEAN ANYTHING TO US AT ALL, BECAUSE WE HEARD THAT ALL DAY AND NIGHT…….IT WASN’T ANYTHING SPECIAL TO US.”
– HARRY DIAL
It was the end of the evening and as I stood on stage with the sweat pouring down my face, watching the women perform, it became clear to me then there was a chain of events and such a thing as destiny, existed. Picking up a phone one morning to call a bevy of women singers whom I had never met and ask them if they wanted to get together and sing, seemed beyond my control. These women were well known, set in their singing careers and ways. Why would they want to share the stage with the same women they had been competing with for years? I was the worst. I was territorial about where I worked and saw myself as the “queen” of the regional blues scene.
Why was I calling these women? My reasons were selfish. I thought it was so I could get my name out there more. I knew my adopted home of Seattle well enough to know how well the media responded to a major event. The northwest’s top women in rhythm and blues, singing together, would be a one-of-a-kind happening.
I heard myself saying, “I will leave my ego at the door if you will.”
Every woman said yes. I soon realized what I had gotten myself into was much bigger than I was and I was swept along for the ride.
There were many incarnations of the show. Twenty-seven women crossed my path. Eight women starred in the first performance. Four stayed for the duration. Most of the time it was magic. Leading the Seattle Women in Rhythm and Blues show was the hardest thing I had ever done because the talent was fierce and the responsibility large but it seemed as if I didn’t have a choice.
Women singers, women in the blues, are a race unto themselves. It is because of our character defects of feeling too much I can’t take it no more if I don’t sing about it or let go of it I’m gonna die so listen to me right now tendencies that people come back again and again to see the women. Add all of the above the fact that none of us had ever met a microphone we didn’t like.
Going on the road with seven women eight including me, was insane, but I was compelled to do it. The thrill of singing with all of those women on one stage was too tempting to pass up. Their incredible, powerful voices at one time would be so reminiscent of the gospel choirs I had always ached to sing in, but was never willing to walk into a church to accomplish my secret dream. At the time, nobody had thought of putting women singers, lead singers, together on one stage.
For me, the women’s show became an amusement park and each woman a thrill-seeking ride. Sometimes I wanted to get back on the ride for more thrills, and sometimes I wanted to get off as quickly as possible to throw up. I watched women come and go; and all of them changed my life; how I live it, how I perceive who I am, and how I set my priorities today.
Another powerful glue was the music called “blues.” The blues is an experience we can all relate to. What each one of the women knew was that the blues we sang about is the pain that’s so deep and secret that we weren’t sure we could share it with complete strangers and, at the same time, knew it is the very pain that’s the most universal. It is that secret pain we chose to sing about. We knew the blues was the joy of sharing our pain.
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