Amy Black Band pays homage to Memphis blues

Amy Black Memphis Cover Art - credit Stacie Huckeba

Musician Amy Black released her fourth album, “Memphis,” on June 2, with music inspired by the likes of Otis Redding and Al Green.

The Amy Black Band will perform at Pebble Hill in Auburn this Thursday to promote the new album after local band Blackberry Possum opens for them at 7 p.m.

Black was born in Missouri to a grade school teacher and a minister in the Church of Christ. It was through attending church multiple times a week that she first became interested in music.

“We definitely did a lot of singing in the church, a lot of hymns, but it was a church that didn’t believe in a lot of instrumental music at the time so there was a lot of harmonizing and A Capella singing,” Black said on The Midnight Circus, a radio show that interviews blues musicians. 

After growing up in Missouri for 13 years, her family relocated to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where they were originally from. After again moving to Huntsville and then Birmingham, she left for Boston at age 16 where she lived until moving to Nashville a few years ago. 

“I really wasn’t pursuing anything with music until I was about 35 even though I’ve been a singer in bands and did a little writing in college," Black said in the interview. "I saw it as a hobby and not something to pursue as a career.”

Black is now 45 and has since released four albums, starting with “One Time” in 2011 and followed by “This is Home” in 2014, “The Muscle Shoals Sessions” in 2015 and “Memphis” earlier this summer. 

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“Memphis” was recorded in Memphis, Tennessee, and produced by Grammy-nominated and Emmy-winning Scott Bomar of the Bo-Keys. 

Black’s soulful vocals are backed by drummer Howard Grimes, the Rev. Charles Hodges on piano, his brother Leroy “Flick” Hodges on bass and guitarist Bobby Manuel. 

Joe Restivo from the Bo-keys also provides guitar and horn on the album along with string arrangements by Marc Franklin. 

The album features seven original songs and three covers originally written and performed by Otis Clay, Bobby “Blue” Band and Ruby Johnson. 

Black said she hopes "Memphis" inspires listeners to explore the history, people and stories of the southern city. 

“I love the music of Memphis," Black said. "Everything that came out of here in the ‘50s, the ‘60s, the ‘70s … I love the grit, the guts, the soul and the groove. And the heart of it all is the blues.”

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