born on 5/1/1944 in London, England, United Kingdom
died on 21/10/1990
Jo Ann Kelly
Jo Ann Kelly (5 January 1944 21 October 1990) was an English blues singer and guitarist.
Life and career
Kelly was born in Streatham, South London, and with her brother, Dave Kelly, became blues fans in their teens.
Few women were singing or playing the blues during the 1960s, let alone with her skill or understanding of early blues styles. Kelly had a voice far bigger than her slight frame would suggest; with a rich, deep, tonal quality that could easily have come from Dinah Washington or Sister Rosetta Tharpe. After establishing a musical partnership with the British blues musician Tony McPhee, Kelly appeared on two McPhee compiled albums for Liberty Records, Me And The Devil (1968) and I Asked for Water, She Gave Me Gasoline (1969).
At the end of the 1960s, with an album on a major record label in the United States, it seemed that she might be spirited away there and moulded into another Janis Joplin. Both Johnny Winter and Canned Heat tried to recruit Kelly into their ranks. However, her allegiance was to the United Kingdom and the nightclub scene, although, the 1970s and 1980s would fail to support her financially and so she took to the European circuit, latterly with the guitarist Pete Emery or in bands. Indeed, in the early 1980s, she was a member of the Terry Smith Blues Band.
The latest Kelly compilation album, Blues and Gospel, is available on Blues Matters! Records.
- "It was hard to do "Walking Blues" for instance, but I was not born with a voice like Mavis Staples or Jo Ann Kelly." (Bonnie Raitt)
- "Unquestionably the queen of British country blues singers" (Paul Jones of The Blues Band)
- "To many American performers", an obituarist wrote, "Jo Ann Kelly was the only British singer to earn their respect for her development of what they would be justified in thinking as 'their' genre".
- List of British blues musicians
- British blues
- John Peel