Two calibers of singers exist in today’s music industry. There are vocalists and then there are entertainers. While some vocalists possess undeniable talent, many of them lack the prevailing prowess necessary to leave lasting impressions on the masses. Laretha Weathersby is not one of those artists. Weathersby’s dynamic, effervescent stage presence is unparalleled and her sultry, wispy vibrato makes her a Blues natural.
Voted 2009-2010’s “Chicago Blues Diva of the Year,” she belts out traditional Blues classics with passion and poise and delivers riveting renditions of timeless R&B, Soul and Top 40 tunes, all while captivating crowds with her jovial disposition and dynamic dancing. Known for her rousing stage presence, crowd members rarely blink when Weathersby hits the stage, fearing they will miss one of her signature dance moves or the chance to chant along with the charismatic chanteuse. Even when performing for large audiences, Weathersby still manages to create personal connections with spectators, wowing them with the manner in which she flawlessly executes spellbinding dance moves, all while never missing a note.
Her debut album – Dance the Blues Away – is an eclectic mix of traditional Blues infused with remnants of contemporary R&B and Soul. The album reveals Weathersby’s reverence for conventional Blues music while flaunting her fluent transition into contemporary R & B and Soul. Hits such as “Tell Me What’s on Your Mind,” Mr. Right” and “Where is That No Good Man of Mine?” are timeless Blues ballads, while up-tempo grooves like “Princess of the Blues” and “Dance the Blues Away” – the album’s title track – are reminiscent of such classics as “Let the Good Times Roll” and “Wang Dang Doodle.”
Written and produced by veteran songwriter and musician “Marvin The Maestro,” album originals like “My Good Thang” call to mind timeless Soul tunes and ballads such as “Same Thing to You,” “More Than Just a Lover” and “Tell Me What’s on Your Mind” highlight Weathersby’s vocal vulnerability and dexterity. Thrilling vocal harmonies illuminate several tracks on Dance the Blues Away while solos from instrumentalists Stanley “Preacher Man” Banks and Shun Kikuta – both members of Koko Taylor’s band until the late singer’s death – help substantiate Weathersby’s declaration as a “Princess of the Blues.”
Reigning from the Southside of Chicago – the undisputed home of the Blues – Weathersby’s mother, a former Gospel soloist, detected her daughter’s singing abilities as a young child and enrolled the toddler in piano classes and encouraged her to be an active member of the choir at the family’s place of worship as a teenager, but it was not until the 1990s that Weathersby began to cultivate a personal relationship with Blues music.
Emerging as one of the premiere female Blues vocalists in the City of Chicago in the late 1990s, Weathersby has performed at such legendary Blues hotspots as The Kingston Mines, BLUES on Halsted and Blue Chicago. In addition to performing at festivals and private events nationwide with her band – The Machete Band – she has shared the stage with such Blues notables as Howard Scott, Vance Kelly, Carl Linsey Alexander and J.W. Williams.
While passionate, powerful vocal delivery, signature dance moves and riveting stage shows catapult Weathersby into a league of her own in the Blues world, the Chicago-native still manages to capture the very essence of the Blues through her innate ability to relate to the intricacies of the human experience, forming a seamless synergy between traditional and contemporary Blues music.
According to Weathersby, “the power of Blues music lies in its ability to relate to each and every member of the human race. People of all different backgrounds can connect with the universal concepts of love, triumph and tribulation, which are the very elements upon which Blues music is based. I consider it an honor and joy to incorporate that human element into my live performances and it is with passion and humility that I accept the honor and challenge of preserving Blues music for future generations.”