Amanda Gresham

“To feel The Blues in your heart, EXPERIENCE The Blues in your soul. *GRAMMY Nominated photographer, Amanda Gresham takes you to The Blues on her ‘Delta Music Experience Rockin the Rivers, Roads and Rails musician-guided vacations and takes The Blues to you via her documentary photography. “Having Dick Waterman as my mentor,” shares Gresham, “has been such an inspiration. I was honored in 1999, when Dick invited me to hang an exhibit along side his treasure chest of photographs in Georgetown after graduating from American University. With two decades of professional immersion in The Blues, genuine trust and true friendships form, providing a unique foundation for musical moments captured. Gresham feels, Blues includes a way of life, people, feelings, musicians and emotions, rooted in experiences. Photographers are entrusted with the privilege to capture moments musicians share with us, each photograph varies since we all represent our unique relationships to The Blues.” *10 Days Out: Blues From The Backroads— Amanda Gresham

Mekia, Mavis, Koko - © Amanda Gresham

W.C. Handy Blues Awards, Memphis, Tennessee – 2005 © Amanda Gresham

Powerhouse Women of the Blues
Koko Taylor, Mavis Staples and Shemekia Copeland

“You can’t have a movement without the music,” Pops Staples

This year people may have been standing far apart, but they have stood closer together in thought and action for the first time since the Civil Rights Movement. Singing their way to justice. Singing truth to power. Women of the Blues are a voice of social consciousness.

The Staple Singers gospel-folk performances at marches, rallies and churches, inspired participants to keep them in high spirits. Pops said about Dr. King, “If he can preach it, we can sing it.” Their song “Freedom Highway” was about the march. The first song Pops ever taught Mavis Staples and her siblings was “Will The Circle Be Unbroken,” clearly an anthem for today. Throughout her life Mavis Staples has been a champion for civil rights and social justice through her music. This was very apparent when Mavis teamed up with Chicago musician Jeff Tweedy’s “Peaceful Dream” on her 2017 album, If All I Was Was Black. Released in April 2020, All In It Together, has all proceeds going to My Block, My Hood, My City organization.

Queen of the Blues  sang as an expression of her deeply rooted connection to her youth growing up in Bartlett, Tennessee. According to her biography, Koko reflected on how a song she had learned from her father in the cotton fields, appeared on her album Old School, alongside her own compositions. “She grew up in blues culture, as a sharecropper and learning from listening to other singers, not just to records,” said Bruce Iglauer, Alligator Records founder. Koko Taylor has been an inspiration to women around the world.

Crowned the new Queen of the Blues, Shemekia Copeland‘s voice defines “an instrument for social justice” —…

Etta Baker

Etta Baker - © Amanda GreshamEtta Baker – 10 Days Out Blues From The Backroads, June 14, 2004
© Amanda Gresham

When Etta took up guitar at the age of three, her father passed on that mix of mountain music and deep-felt Piedmont blues to his daughter. Over the course of her lifetime, Etta became one of the finest finger-style Piedmont Blues guitarist to come out of North Carolina. Etta was an Artist with Music Maker Relief Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit, founded by Tim Duffy to preserve the musical traditions of the South by directly supporting the musicians who make it, ensuring their voices will not be silenced by poverty and time. In 2004 Gresham was hired by Warner Records to document the filming and recording for the now, GRAMMY nominated, 10 Days Out: Blues From The Backroads and Gresham’s photos are used throughout the CD booklet and on the 10 Days Out and Kenny Wayne Shepherd websites. Appreciation to Barbara Hammerman who connected her Blues friends Ken Shepherd and Tim Duffy together for this made-in-heaven collaboration.

Janiva Magness

Janiva Magness - © Amanda Gresham

Janiva Magness – Jimi Macks, Portland, OR, March 2014

GRAMMY Nominated Janiva Magness’ new album Love Wins Again is yet another evolutionary step for the soulful, elegant, award-winning singer-songwriter. It’s 11 core songs and two bonus tracks are built on a sonically sophisticated architecture that’s in full service of Magness’ remarkably flexible and generous voice—which can flow smoothly as champagne or churn up gravel on command. The album’s title is a mantra that resonates throughout: the concept of love as a physical, psychic and spiritual force that has the strength to conquer negativity, sadness and personal demons. Such a joy: to share such a heart-happy friendship with this selfless, strong, and soulful friend, to participate in the marriage uniting Janiva with her soul mates was above and beyond, and to experience the moment she will forever have GRAMMY Nominated preceding her name, the moment when Janiva was truly at a CrossRoads of which path next to take, after a life that is the subject of a musical based on her previous album, entitled, original: the musical – when life and music collide. I am so honored to have been her photographer during recording sessions and have an image selected for her original album.
Janiva Magness  on her GRAMMY nomination, “ … this is a victory for me. A massive personal victory to see my name and work honored on that list of final and actual Grammy Nominees – the kind of personal victory I never imagined or allowed myself to believe could have my name on it. I mean seriously, dreaming is a delicate risk that I have never found very comfortable.

Rosie Ledet

AMANDA GRESHAM c2004 LRBCJazz Fest –  2003

Since her interest in music began in the mid-1980’s, Rosie Ledet and her husband/producer, Morris, have truly traveled the Zydeco Road. Rosie’s performances have carried her throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Rosie hails from the rural town of Church Point, Louisiana, and learned to play the accordion by watching her husband and then practicing on his accordion while he worked during the day With her self-penned tunes, Ledet provides a unique female presence in the male-dominated zydeco world. She sings in both Creole French and in English. Her songs are often sly and lusty and combined with her natural good looks and distinctive, bluesy singing voice, she wows audiences wherever she goes.

Ruth Brown
Ruth Brown - © Amanda Gresham

Monterey Blues Festival, 1997 © Amanda Gresham

Taken during the Blues Diva’s Showcase on the Garden Stage, Ruth graciously shared the stage with musicians and friends delivering a spectacularly sassy show. Atlantic Records was known as “the house that Ruth built” during the 1950s. Ruth Brown‘s regal hitmaking reign from 1949 to the close of the ’50s helped tremendously to establish the New York label’s predominance in the R&B field. Ruth returned to the top, restoring her status as a postwar R&B pioneer (and tireless advocate for the rights and royalties of her peers) recognized worldwide.