Monday, September 26, 2011

Any Womans Blues #14 – Deborah Coleman

Good morning—er, well it’s till morning out here on the U.S. Left Coast, at least for a little while (assuming you read this within minutes of when it posts.)  The Monday Morning Blues train has arrived, & better late than never as we always say!

Today’s feature is this month’s installment in the Any Woman’s Blues series, & wow, what an exciting artist we have for your listening pleasure today!  Deborah Coleman is a virtuosic guitarist, as well as a fanastic singer, & she infuses her contemporary blues with a healthy dose of soul.  After all, the term R&B did originally mean “rhythm & blues,” & included musicians like John Lee Hooker & Muddy Waters.  As you can hear from her guitar playing, especially on her live version of “The Dream” in the first video below, there’s also plenty of rock & roll bite—in all the best senses—in her playing as well.

Interestingly, Deborah Coleman dates her interest in blues to a show she saw at age 21 which featured Waters, Hooker & the great Howlin’ Wolf, tho she also lists a number of other influences—from Jimi Hendrix & Memphis Minnie, & from Patti Smith to Bessie Smith.  Ms Coleman grew up in a musical family, & began learning guitar at age 8; she also began her professional music career as a bassist at age 15.  However, she married in her mid twenties & spent the next several years working as an electrician & a nurse, while keeping music as a sideline.  Then she entered the National Blues Talent Search of South Carolina's Charleston Blues Festival in 1993 & won first prize, which then propelled her into a full-time touring & recording career.

Deborah Coleman has released eight solo albums, starting with the 1995 New Moon Records release Takin’ a Stand.  Following this, she released five albums on the great blues label, Blind Pig Records, followed by releases on Telarc & JSP.  The latter is her most recent, the 2007 release Stop the Game.  In addition, she recorded Time Bomb with guitarists Sue Foley (who was our very first featured artist in the Any Woman’s Blues series) & Roxanne Potvin.

Deborah Coleman performs using both a Gibson Les Paul (again, check out “The Dream” video) & a Fender Telecaster (see pic leading off post.)  In addition to her great guitar playing & singing, she’s also a composer—in fact, both “The Dream” & “My Love Belongs to You” are originals. 

Deborah Coleman won an Orville Gibson Award for Best Blues Guitarist in 2001, & has placed two albums on Billboard’s top 20 chart—these were the Blind Pig releases Livin’ On Love (2001) & Soul Be It (2002).  In addition, she has been nominated for a W.C. Handy Blues Music Award nine times!

What an exciting performer!  I know you’re going to love her music.

Pic of Deborah Coleman links back to source.


  1. Ah! I've actually heard Ms. Coleman perform live back in Newport. Excellent choice, John!

  2. Hi Roy: I like her playing a lot myself, but have yet to hear her live--thanks!

  3. John, you've introduced me to someone new. Sensational!

  4. I like this, John. Thanks for the intro.

  5. Hi Martin & Banjo52

    Martin: Glad you liked her playing--she's awfully good!

    Banjo52: You are welcome! Glad you liked Deborah Coleman's music.

  6. Have you any idea where she is? I am a graduate student at Emory University writing a dissertation tracing the history of black women electric guitarists through oral history interviews and archival research. I cannot find her anywhere!!!!

    1. Hi HappyBrownGirl: I'm so sorry, I can't find any really up-to-date info on Deborah Coleman. It appears that she was touring in Germany last summer, but I can't find anything about a current label, tour info or even an up-to-date website. There isn't that much online. I wonder if you tried contacting Roxanne Potvin who played with Deborah Coleman on Time Bomb if she might have some info. Since your project sounds important, Potvin might help. This is the url for Roxanne Potvin's contact page:

      Good luck!

  7. Hi,

    Stumbled on this page while looking for information about live dates for Deborah Coleman. I've been listening to her music for at least a decade, and every year or so I check the web to see if there's any news about her. Always nothing, other than an occasional reference to a tour date abroad. Would love to see her live. I wonder why she doesn't play in the U.S.

    Kate in North Carolina

    1. Hi Kate: She does seem to focus her touring in Europe--I noticed that as well. She may simply have a bigger fan base over there--that certainly is the case with a surprising number of U.S. artists once you get past the big names. Thanks for stopping by!


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