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Lady Blackbird brings her unique blues to intimate KNKX session

A woman sings inside a music studio while a dog sits in her lap.
Parker Miles Blohm
/
KNKX

Lady Blackbird came to my attention with the release of her 2021 debut, Black Acid Soul. The album got rave reviews from The New York Times, The Guardian and NPR, and her song “It's Not That Easy” was on my list of “Best of the Blues” for that next year.

Lady Blackbird may be a new artist, but the person behind the persona, Marley Munroe, has been in the music business since she was a child. Munroe skirted the edge of stardom in the ultra-competitive world of pop and R&B, but now with Lady Blackbird, she has crafted a new sound and image for herself with a project aimed at a jazz audience.

A large part of the catalyst for change was guitarist, pianist and producer Chris Seefried, who asked Lady Blackbird (then Munroe) to sing on a demo of a song he had written, “Nobody’s Sweetheart,” which emulates the sound of classic jazz. The demo got such a strong positive reception that they decided to move their music in that direction.

“The idea came to really lean into that whole sound focused around my vocal. It sort of goes back to how record companies would treat singers in the '50s and '60s, whether it was Sarah Vaughn, Sinatra, Ella or Nat Cole,” she explained.

Another strategy that puts emphasis on Lady Blackbird’s voice is the absence of drums on the Black Acid Soul release. It was also the first time that she had recorded her voice live with the band in the recording studio, which allowed her further freedom to play with time and tempo.

Lady Blackbird’s voice has some of the same tone and timbre as Nina Simone. Once she and Seefried determined their new musical direction, the first song she brought in was Simone’s “Blackbird.” Ultimately, the song inspired her new name and appears first on Black Acid Soul. 

Lady Blackbird and Chris Seefried were in Seattle for their first time ever to perform at The Triple Door. During their visit earlier this month, they were kind enought to perform two songs in this exclusive KNKX studio session, Seefried’s original “Nobody’s Sweetheart” and “I Am What I Am” from the musical La Cage aux Folles.

Listen to their performance above.

Artists:

  • Lady Blackbird - vocals
  • Chris Seefried - piano, guitar

Songs:

  1. I Am What I Am (Jerry Herman)
  2. Nobody's Sweetheart (Chris Seefried)
John has worked as a professional bassist for 20 years, including a 15 year stint as Musical Director of the Mountain Stage radio program. John has been at KNKX since 1999 where he hosts “All Blues”, is producer of the BirdNote radio program, and co-hosts “Record Bin Roulette”. John is also the recording engineer for KNKX “In-Studio Performances”. Not surprisingly, John's main musical interests are jazz and blues, and he is still performing around Seattle.
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