Blues Women International

Hopson Sessions-

The Journey to get there

In July 2012 at the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, a friend of mine(Christina) and I had a discussion about photographic project. We decided to take a closer look into seeing what would happen if the project was to go on. I noticed that all the other projects were all about the man in blues!! What about the woman? I thought this photographic project was a very interesting project since I am a photographer and my friend was good at doing research.

 After returning from this trip, I got excited about finding out if more information about the project. I called a friend of mine (Sunday Wilde) from Ontario Canada about this photographic project. She mentioned to me about doing a live recording. After a couple weeks of letting this all sink in, we had another discussion about going ahead and doing the recording.

Now we had to decide a name for or this project and recording. After a couple weeks of stewing over a project name, I called Sunday Wilde and told her we should go ahead with the project. I told her, you are from Canada and I am from the United States, so we should make this an international recording project. I said we can still do this photographic project, recording project and put together a international database of blues women. Hence, "Blues Women International".

 Now we started working on a mission statement, securing a domain name, building websites, opening accounts and doing countless hours of research from volunteer women.

The biggest thing about "Blues Women International" is the women. So over the next month I put feelers out to all the women that I know in the blues. Which included instrumentalists, vocalists and songwriters. At the end of 30 days I had 16 prospect women who are interested in being part of the project. Finding and picking these women was very hard, because I wanted a couple instrumentalists in each position. I needed guitar players, electric bass players, standup bass player, keyboard player, harmonica player, sax player and one kick ass drummer. All these instrumentalists were also going to help support the vocalists that did not play instruments.

 At the end of September 2012, we launched "Blues Women International" and put out a full blast campaign announcing what we were doing. We also launched a photo contest for blues women performers that was going to run for 90 days. The photo contest winners were going to be used to help promote the "Blues Women International" website and be used in other photographic projects.

 Now the next step was finding a place to have the recording and figuring out a tentative date. After thinking about this for a week or two I concluded that we needed to have the compilation recorded in Clarksdale Mississippi (home of the blues and the famous crossroads) and the date was set prior to the "International Blues Competition". Having the compilation set before the "International Blues Competition "killed two birds with one stone. Many of the women were coming to compete or had an interest to go to the "International Blues Challenge" to network.

The recording project was now set and there was no turning back! Another thing to keep us on track is that many of the women had flight reservations and lodging reservations.

 Now putting together a recording has much paperwork involved. Recording waivers, contracts, schedules for rehearsals and recording, publicity on a daily basis, performance posters and updating and maintaining the website on a daily basis. We also had a kickstarter campaign in which we raised enough money to get the project up to the pressing stage. We still have a long way to go to get the compilation pressed and do the proper publicity that this great compilation deserves.

 From around Christmas 2012 to one week before the recording many of the women had to drop out of the project due to financial and personal reasons. You have to realize that most of these are professional musicians and funding to come to a project like this is no easy task. Because our project had to keep moving forward, I had to find a replacement women to make sure we have enough content to make the project viable. I went through eight guitar players, three harmonica players, three keyboard players, two bass players. We finally found a standup bass player two weeks before the recording and our guitar player nine hours before the recording. Wow... Is that cutting it close.

 It took three weeks to find our place to have our recording, we finally found the Hopson Commissary Plantation where the legendary Pinetop Perkins worked while he was growing up. James Butler owner of Hopson told me if we wanted to do our recordings there we had a place for life. The ambience of Hopson is fantastic and gave all the women more incentive to be productive during this recording session. I will have to commend every women and men that were on the project of their total professionalism to get this two day adventure in the history books.

 Most of the women around this project had never met each other prior to Monday morning, the day of the recording. For each of them to share their original songs, rehearse them, and record them all in two days was phenomenal. During the two days we recorded 17 original songs. Even from the unmixed material straight off the board we have a wonderful mix of songs in all styles of the blues. This compilation is going to be a chart buster!

What the women got from this project is lifetime friends, new inspirations on songwriting (8 songs written just for this compilation) and working on projects of unknown capacity. As I heard from each woman, they all told me that they were kind of scared, all the way up to the day of recording. They did not know what to expect from how all this would work out. As for me, one of the only roosters in the chicken coop I was impressed with how well the women worked together....I see seventeen golden eggs! WOW!! What a fantastic experience...

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