Rory Block — Prove It On Me (March 27, 2020)
⊕⇑⊗ „Prove It On Me“ is the second album from Rory Block’s new „Power Women of the Blues“ series.
⊕⇑⊗ This recording celebrates the songs of nine ground~breaking female blues artists, includes one of her own originals, and will be released March 27, 2020 on Stony Plain Records. Prove It On Me presents Rory’s unique take on songs from phenomenal female performers and songwriters: Arizona Dranes, Elvie Thomas Merline Johnson, Madlyn Davis, Helen Humes, Rosetta Howard, Lottie Kimbrough, Gertrude „Ma“ Rainey and Memphis Minnie. Rory’s goal for this release was to spotlight some of the more obscure names of the genre, some of whom did not become widely known „despite their immense talent“. All songs are given the „Rory Block Band“ treatment, while showcasing their own individual style and contribution to the genre.
⊕⇑⊗ „For over a century, women of the blues have prevailed to record and perform their music. I hope we will do them justice by continuing to get to know them better today, as we celebrate their names more every year.“
⊕⇑⊗ Prove It On Me was produced by Rory Block and Rob Davis. All vocals on the new disc are by Rory Block, who also played all the guitar and bass parts on her Signature Model Martin Guitars. In addition, all drums and percussion heard on the new disc — guitar bongos, hat boxes, plastic storage tubs, oatmeal boxes and wooden spoons — were played by Rory.
⊕⇑⊗ During her career, Rory Block has won six W.C. Handy Awards (now known simply as The Blues Music Awards) from the Blues Foundation, two for „Traditional Blues Female Artist“, three for „Acoustic Blues Album of the Year“, and in 2019 she won „Acoustic Artist of the Year.“ She is nominated again in 2020 for:
— Traditional Blues Female Artist (Koko Taylor Award) Rory Block
— Winner announced May 7, 2020 in Memphis, TN.
— Rory Block is attending the 2020 Blues Music Awards ceremony.
— She is supporting this release with a major US tour in Spring 2020.
Birth name: Aurora Block
Born: November 6, 1949, Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.
Album release: March 27, 2020
Record Label: Stony Plain Records
01. He May Be Your Man 4:09
02. It’s Red Hot 3:32
03. If You’re A Viper 4:10
04. Prove It On Me 3:15
05. I Shall Wear A Crown 4:10
06. Eagles 4:26
07. Wayward Girl Blues 4:41
08. In My Girlish Days 3:21
09. Milk Man Blues 4:50
10. Motherless Child 4:51
⊕⇑⊗ „Her playing is perfect, her singing otherworldly as she wrestles with ghosts, shadows and legends.“ — The New York Times
⊕⇑⊗ „Rory Block has been an inspiration to me since we started out years ago. Her guitar playing, singing and songwriting are some of the most soulful in traditional and modern blues.“ — Bonnie Raitt
⊕⇑⊗ „Today she is widely regarded as the top female interpreter and authority on traditional country blues worldwide.“ — The Blues Foundation
⊕⇑⊗ „... Rory Block is currently stretching the limits... hugely talented... She is one of our national treasures.“ — The New York Blues & Jazz Society
⊕⇑⊗ „Rory Block is the blues... one of the music’s few living legends.“ — All Music Guide album pick
⊕⇑⊗ „A living landmark, the finest contemporary purveyor of the Mississippi Delta Country Blues tradition...“ — Berkeley Express
⊕⇑⊗ „...one of the world’s most important preservers of the roots of American music... a national treasure in the form of an uncompromising mature blues artist.“ — Guitar Extra
⊕⇑⊗ „...Rory Block is one of the greatest living acoustic blues artists... she can hold her own with the legends who inspired her.“ — Blues Revue
⊕⇑⊗ „If you like music steeped in tradition and genuine feeling, this is your woman.“ — People Magazine
⊕⇑⊗ „Some of the most singular and affecting Country Blues anyone, man or woman, black or white, old or young, has cut in recent years.“ — Rolling Stone
⊕⇑⊗ „Rory Block should have a Doctorate in my grandfather’s music.“ — Steven Johnson, grandson of Robert Johnson
⊕⇑⊗ „When I hear Rory Block’s music, it’s as if my grandfather is here all over again.“ — Greg Johnson, grandson of Robert Johnson
by Jim Hynes | March 26, 2020 |
⊕⇑⊗ Rory Block continues her life mission to document the music of blues originators. She has put aside that talk of being ‘semi~retired,’ from a few years back but has reduced her touring schedule somewhat. Having completed her acclaimed Mentor Series on male originators in 2016, Block issued her first project celebrating “Power Women of the Blues” in 2018 with A Woman’s Soul: A Tribute to Bessie Smith. On this second in the series, she nods to several lesser known women but ironically, as one listens, most of the songs will be familiar even though the artist may not be.
⊕⇑⊗ One of the immediately striking aspects of this record is Rory’s voice tracking, creating the effect of a choir, just through layering her own voice with the help of astute engineer Rob Davis, as they also create a tremendous sound simply by using guitar and an array of percussion for the rhythm section as they did on her last few records. There’s a wide variety in the styles considering that some of these artists fronted big bands while others simply accompanied themselves or played in smaller configurations. Yet, Bessie Smith, didn’t play with a guitar backing either. So, as Rory did on the previous project, her slide guitar can mimic horn parts when necessary and the vocal layering creates a “bigger” sound than just one woman and one guitar, referred to in the liners as “Rory Block and “The Rory Block Band.”
⊕⇑⊗ She did pen one original entitled “Eagles.” that has a very special, personal meaning to Rory. “The words to ‘Eagles’ are directly from my life, with one single line for someone else as mentioned in the liner notes,” she confesses. “My book addresses my childhood — but even then I did not detail things in full and left many things unsaid. Just didn’t feel necessary or a good idea at that point.”
⊕⇑⊗ “With this new recording, I decided to celebrate some of the great female artists who were not as well~known as Bessie Smith (with the obvious exception of Ma Rainey and Memphis Minnie). Women of that era were certainly not given support to leave home, children and families to hop a freight train and go from bar to bar,” Rory explains. “Society really would have frowned utterly on that, and women knew it. They didn’t have permission to go out there as much as men did. Their recorded material might have been left in the back of an archive somewhere, and perhaps not widely promoted as a result. Some of their recordings probably got swept under some rug somewhere, and many great women artists essentially disappeared. Still other voices did make it through, people like Big Mama Thornton, Rosetta Tharpe, Sippie Wallace, and some of the women who sang jazz like Ella Fitzgerald, and also gospel, like Mahalia Jackson. Knowing the above, my goal with Prove It on Me was to bring to light some of these great talents who for whatever reason did not become as famous.”
⊕⇑⊗ Block gets into the spirit of these women, making them necessary voices of today with sass, sensibility and defiance as heard on her versions of Ma Rainey’s title cut and Memphis Minnie’s “In My Girlish Days.” She also introduces us to some women who got lost in the rewriting of a musical history that figuratively buried some of the best female singers of the ’20s and ’30s with “He May Be Your Man” by Helen Humes, who replaced Billie Holiday in the Count Basie Orchestra in 1938; the attitude dripping “If You’re a Viper” originally released by a Chicago singer known as The Viper Girl Rosetta Howard; and “I Shall Wear A Crown” by blind gospel singer Arizona Dranes.
⊕⇑⊗ Rory Block is a national treasure. No one else is doing the work that she is, reminding us where blues, perhaps the most sacred of American music idioms, came from. In an amazing 45~year career that now boasts 36 albums, there is no stopping her, as attested to by her current outlook, “My husband, Rob and I, we talk about it a lot,” she admits. “We jump into the car every day and listen to whatever we just recorded. That’s what gives us energy. That’s what gives us purpose. I think to myself if I’m ever not recording, there’s going to be some kind of dropout to my life. There’s going to be some kind of void. I always have to be surrounded with music to feel the energy I need to live. I mean, its energy, its spirituality. I live and breathe music.” — glidemagazine.com