In just one conversation, Houston native and Blues legend Trudy Lynn
has already got the bones for two new songs that just came to her while chatting about life. “I tell people all the time, I got more time behind than I do ahead. That’s what you've got to think about when you get older. I gotta write that song,” says Lynn with determination.
Throughout the pandemic Lynn took advantage of her downtime and focused on writing, something she says she will continue to do for as long as possible. She will be celebrating the release of her eighteenth album Golden Girl
, due out on March 18, with three CD release shows around town with the first being on Saturday, March 12 at The Continental Club
where she will be joined by the Steve Krase
band and special guest James "Boogaloo" Bolden
The First Lady of Houston Blues has truly seen it all in her 57 years in show business. Originally known as Lee Audrey Nelms from Houston’s Fifth Ward, Lynn was exposed to music from a very young age as her mother had a beauty shop near Houston's famed Club Matinee.
“Oh I have lived it honey,” says Lynn warmly. “I really have and I think about it all the time. There's not many legends left and I recognize that. I'm just grateful to God for everything,” she says as she reflects on the fact that from a 2011 Houston Press
piece on Houston Blues she, Eugene Moody and Robert “PeeWee” Stevens are the only three out of 11 people still alive.
“We all just passing through so you just do what you do and go ahead on with it,” says Lynn remembering her mother’s mantra that if one lived long enough, they’d see it all. "It's just plain everyday life the blues, it really is and we sing about it and talk about it."
"It's just plain everyday life the blues, it really is and we sing about it and talk about it."
“When I was younger I had a chance to see Ruth Brown, LaVerne Baker and all these nostalgic blues singers and I would see their ages and I would say, ‘Boy, I wonder if I'm gonna be doing that when I get that age?’ and here I am. I think about that all the time.”
Lynn got her start in the ‘60s singing with Albert Collins and Clarence Green. She had a first class education in the blues right at her fingertips here in Houston and she took full advantage of the knowledge and talent around her to harness her own God-given skills.
“I feel like I had the best teacher in the world when I started out because I started out with Clarence Green here and he was very, very strict.” She describes how band members would get fined for showing up with wrinkled shirts or scuffed shoes.
She remembers when Green reprimanded her for powdering her nose in front of others as he explained to her that she could do that in the green room or the restroom without so many watchful eyes from the audience members. At the end of the year, Green would split the fine money among the band as a kind of bonus.
It’s her old school education and classy presentation that makes her a timeless performer and band leader with a voice that can rattle the building and hit listeners right in the gut. Seeing Lynn command the stage is nothing short of mesmerizing and a reminder that not all performers are created equal.
“When I do a song I'm going to give you that story, I’m going to capture your attention. Just like I do that Memphis Minnie song “World Of Trouble” that says ‘It's going to be a cool morning,’ well I'm going to put it to where you can almost feel that chill to get you where we are and I feel like that's what people want.”
Lynn most definitely is giving the people what they want on Golden Girl
. Recorded between Los Angeles and right here in Houston at band member Rock Romano’s Red Shack Recording Studio
, Lynn and her band managed to capture her raw, onstage energy with songs that really show off her rich, one of a kind vocals that glide effortlessly from raucous to mellow.
Just as Lynn does with her live audiences, on Golden Girl
she takes listeners on a ride through a dark and sweaty dance floor where hips keep the beat to spicy horns and longtime band member Steve Krase’s famous harmonica solos to a church pew as she harmonizes with special guests Teresa James
and Grammy nominated producer Terry Wilson.
When asked if she felt any urgency to put out another record as she approaches her seventy-fifth birthday this year Lynn denies a rush to make Golden Girl
instead expressing gratitude for the opportunity and ability to record a great set of songs.
“I thank God that I can do it but I don't put it as, I got
to do it. I did enough for me to leave and for people to know who I was. I appreciated being able to do this one. I could say I've had my fun but if I don't do it no more, I've enjoyed everything that I've done.”
For a woman who has made her life singing the blues, Lynn’s down to earth and positive vibe and wisdom are just as powerful as her voice.
“I just don't let nothing get me down, I really don't because you know I sing the blues but I’m from the old school and when something bothers me I just take it to God and leave it with him and keep going. I don't let it take me down, I don't put it on top of my head, I stand on top of it and as Angelou says, ‘I rise’ that's what I do. I rise.”
“When I hit 50 I thought, well it's going to start repeating now and it's the truth. You keep going around that circle and then you go back and do them things you already done. You say, ‘What for?’ That's wisdom because you already know. What for, there's another song right there.”
Trudy Lynn's latest album Golden Girl will be available on March 18. She will be performing with the Steve Krase band and special guest James "Boogaloo" Bolden on Saturday, March 12 at The Continental Club, 3700 Main, 9 p.m., $10-$20. Saturday, March 19 at Main Street Crossing, 111 W. Main, 7 p.m., $20-$25. Friday, April 8 at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 9:30 p.m., $30-$120.