Over the past three decades, Marcia Ball has become a bona-fide dual threat. Uncontested queen of New Orleans piano that she is, Ball has also evolved into an engaging vocalist. She's among the finest present-day practitioners of the rollicking brand of boogie popularized by Professor Longhair, joining Bonnie Raitt as a white gal who has fashioned a personal and distinctive voice from blues and R&B.
Ball was raised on the Louisiana-Texas border, a likely place to take on the influences that pervade her craft. She established herself in the Austin scene in the early '70s and cut her first album in 1978 for Capitol. Her reputation grew during a fruitful stint with Rounder through the '80s and '90s; she garnered critical acclaim and W.C. Handy Awards for both her playing and singing. On her recent recordings, Ball the diva has prevailed over Ball the player. Her latest, So Many Rivers, is light on the raucous piano breaks and sports more than a little uptown production sheen. That said, the lady still seems well tethered to her regional roots, be they N'Awlins, Cajun, or Tex-Mex. And besides, a live show is just the place for raisin' some hell.
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