"This album is amazing. And very difficult to classify. Can you imagine a black Lucinda Williams? Not like when she plays the blues torn from her first albums, no. A black Lucinda Williams in pop, rhythm, blues and even gender roots Americana. So it sounds, if you can imagine such a hodgepodge somehow, the latest album from this brutal, original, explosive singer." -- Vanity Fair (Spain)... more
"This album is amazing. And very difficult to classify. Can you imagine a black Lucinda Williams? Not like when she plays the blues torn from her first albums, no. A black Lucinda Williams in pop, rhythm, blues and even gender roots Americana. So it sounds, if you can imagine such a hodgepodge somehow, the latest album from this brutal, original, explosive singer." -- Vanity Fair (Spain)
"The most exciting Afro-Americana album of the year." -- Paste
"Our admiration of Queen Esther is almost beyond measure." - Rootstime (Belgium)
A 2015 Mountain Stage NewSong Contest Finalist and the 2008 Grand Prize winner of the Jazzmobile Vocal Competition, Queen Esther has performed with guitar icon James “Blood” Ulmer internationally in various blues, rock and jazz configurations, including Blues Experience Raw, The Black Rock Experience and most recently, the seminal harmelodic band Odyssey. She is a featured vocalist on his much lauded album No Escape From The Blues (included in Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums of 2003) and lends her vocals and songwriting talents to The 52nd Street Blues Project’s album Blues & Grass.
Steeped in the gospel music traditions of the Church of God in Christ (C.O.G.I.C.) from a very early age while surrounded by a soundscape of freeform radio, countrypolitan music and show tunes, Queen Esther grew up in the Deep South – Atlanta, GA and Charleston, SC respectively – as the middle child and the only daughter, with six brothers and a four-octave range. She began her gifted education in English and creative writing as a five-year-old.
Serious operatic training as a kid led to hard time in Austin, Texas -- in musical theater as well as on the live music scene -- opening for artists as varied as Larry Carlton, The Neville Brothers, Crowded House and Chuck Berry. It was guitarist “Big Al” Gilhausen who introduced her to the legendary blues guitar icon Hubert Sumlin. Because of their strong influence, she lost herself in the blues and found her way back to her gospel/country roots.
A graduate of The New School, Queen Esther’s work in New York City as a vocalist, lyricist, songwriter, actor/solo performer and playwright/librettist led to creative collaborations in neo-vaudeville, alt-theater, various alt-rock configurations, (neo) swing bands, trip hop DJs, spoken word performances, jazz combos, jam bands, various blues configurations, original Off Broadway plays and musicals, experimental music/art noise and performance art.
After forming the avant-blues duo Hoosegow with guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Elliott Sharp and releasing the critically acclaimed album Mighty (Homestead), Queen Esther beat out more than 6,000 hopefuls to land the role of The Voice of Heaven in the original cast of the 1st national tour of the Broadway musical RENT. She signed a publishing deal with Bug Music and self-released the Black Americana album Talkin’ Fishbowl Blues as well as the jazz album What is Love?
Queen Esther and her jazz collective The Hot Five are featured in The Salon’s annual New Year’s Eve Eve fete as well as seasonal events produced by Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra (specializing in jazz from the 1920s) including the biannual Jazz Age Lawn Party. She wrote and co-starred in The Billie Holiday Project -- a musical based on newly discovered short stories by Zora Neale Hurston that are augmented by Ms. Holiday’s rare sides -- at Lenox Lounge for Harlem Jazz Shrines festival in 2011 as well as The Apollo Theater’s Music Café in 2012. She continues to develop this work through showcases, writing labs and performance workshops.
At the moment, Queen Esther is working on a new album.less