The NW Women R&B group has performed specialty shows produced by Sonny Hess since the early 80’s. These shows are comprised of the top female performers in the region but most importantly, Sonny exposes new-found talent to the Portland Blues scene. Here are a few names you might recognize that got their start in the area with the NW Women Rhythm & Blues: Lisa Mann, Ellen Whyte, Rae Gordon, Naomi T, Lady Kat “Lady True Blue” are just a few who have gone on to win multiple awards locally, regionally and nationally.
The group’s performance on the Festival’s July 1 afternoon “Sail on Sister” Blues Cruise will showcase such seasoned performers as Sonny Hess, Sheila Wilcoxson, Lady True Blue, Kelly Pierce, and special guest, Claudette King, daughter of the late legendary blues man, BB King.
Claudette King, dubbed “The Bluz Queen,” is the youngest daughter of the late “King of the Blues” B. B. King and, if familial genes count for anything, is “On to something.” Claudette King, a dynamic, downright sassy performer, exudes a confidence that was born of her struggle to prove who she is and carve out her own identity. Claudette sang in glee clubs and the choir of Reverend Brown's Baptist church growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. ”My inspiration is my dad”, says Claudette, who was also mindful of how her father was constantly on the international concert circuit as the tireless Ambassador of the Blues. Listening to the radio and her mother’s collection of record albums, she soaked up the joyous singing of notables like Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Michael Jackson, and Mahalia Jackson.