Eric Bibb, with Ruthie Foster and Cyd Cassone

Eric Bibb is a singer. No, not a singer in the corrupted sense fostered by American Idol, full of warbling melisma and acrobatics that do much but say nothing. Instead, Bibb boasts the sort of sweetness that made Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson musical monuments: smooth and full of heart and genuine soul.

Bibb's credentials are superior. His father, Leon Bibb, was probably the finest voice of the 1960s folk movement as well as a musical theater star. His uncle, John Lewis, was the pianist in the Modern Jazz Quartet. And Eric was raised among such family friends as Pete Seeger, Odetta and Bob Dylan. Even though he was immersed in some of the greatest musical traditions of the modern age, Bibb still undertook a study of the deep blues (and tossed aside an Ivy League education at Columbia).

Now well into his '50s, he remains a "new" artist in much of America, though as an expatriate living in Sweden he became something of a star in Scandinavia and Great Britain. But if judged on sheer talent alone, Bibb is a genuine international idol. His style offers a delectable yin/yang of raw and dirty blues music and song and the heavenly spiritual sound of his voice. Although his sense of the blues tradition is firmly grounded, he generally avoids the side of blues music that moans about "Oh, the trouble I've seen." Bibb's blues lifts up and enlightens, and with a voice described by one critic as "melted butter," he offers glimpses of joy and paradise in his singing. It's turquoise blues that shines brightly and has put him on tour stages with such soul brothers and kindred spirits as Robert Cray and Ray Charles. Bibb is a ray of sunshine that brightens the old dirt road of the blues.


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