W.Va.’s First Lady of Blues and R&B — Lady D
Lady D is considered West Virginia’s “First Lady” of Blues and R&B. Her three previous CDs include “Nobody’s Bizness;” “The Lady and the Empress,” which was based on the music of Bessie Smith; and also, “My Turn,” a blend of R&B, Jazz, Reggae, Blues, and Funk.
Lady D won the 2005 FestivALL Charleston Song Contest with “It’s a Charleston Thing.” She and her band were featured in both the 2005 and 2006 FestivALL celebrations and opened for the O’Jays during the 2007 FestivALL.
Lady D is also an actress, performing with Theater West Virginia, the Charleston Stage Company and the Kanawha Players. When she’s not busy with all that, she is vice-president of her own record label, Wastelandic Paradise and co-creator of W.Va.’s Finest, a talent competition. For more info, check out www.ladyd.org and www.myspace.com/ladydandmission.
Graffiti: What are your latest projects?
Lady D: My latest project is the single “Go Higher,” that was just released. It is one track on a mini-CD of five tunes that were previously released on other projects. I’ve gotten a lot of positive response from this song because of its message being so relevant to today’s world. My hope has been to get it to Barack Obama and hopefully he would use it as part of his campaign.
Graffiti: You are very creative, both with music and acting. Are there other ways you are creative, such as cooking or gardening?
Lady D: I’m not really very domestic. In the last two years, I’ve become interested in fabric painting. I create and sell my own line of shirts and tote bags as part of our merchandise at shows.
Graffiti: What venues in West Virginia do you sing at?
Lady D: I have been at the Clay Center opening for the O’Jays. I’ve performed for numerous colleges like WVSU, Bluefield State College, WVU and West Virginia Wesleyan. I’ve performed at the Smoot Theater in Parkersburg, The Greenbrier Valley Theater in Lewisburg, Tamarack. Of course, I do a lot of the smaller spots around the state, like Capitol Roasters and O’Kays in Charleston. Those are my favorite places to play. I’ve performed at many high schools, as well.
Graffiti: How old were you when you first started singing?
Lady D: I first started singing when I was three. That’s when I just knew it was what I was supposed to do.
Graffiti: Do you play any instruments?
Lady D: I used to play clarinet from grade school through my first year of college and some piano. I decided to leave instruments to the professionals.
Graffiti: Do you come from a musical family?
Lady D: No one in my family was, or is musical. My father had a nice voice and from time to time he would sing “Stormy Weather” to me.
Graffiti: Who are your musical influences?
Lady D: My influences are all over the place, but as a small child I was mesmerized by singers like Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald and Judy Garland. I loved their stage presence, sophistication … and wardrobes. Later, I discovered Roberta Flack and Natalie Cole, but my all time idol is Chaka Khan.
Graffiti: What CDs are you listening to these days?
Lady D: I mostly listen to music from the ’70s, but I love what Mary J. Blige is doing, so I listen to her a lot and I like Natasha Beddingfield.
Graffiti: Tell me about West Virginia’s Finest, the competition.
Lady D: West Virginia’s Finest is a statewide vocal talent competition. It’s very grass roots. I just asked people that I knew around the state to audition singers through their organizations for two months, August and September. Their finalists come to Charleston in November for three days of finals. The thing is, there’s not just one winner. We have a winner in five genres of music: Pop/Rock, R&B/Jazz/Blues, Country/Folk, Gospel and Hip-Hop/Rap and we’ve added a 12-14 year old winner and a 15-17 year old winner. Ever since I saw the appeal and popularity of “American Idol,” I knew this would be a good idea. West Virginia has so much talent going unnoticed and I know from personal experience that no one is going to come looking for you, so you have to have outlets and opportunities to perform and hone your craft. That’s all West Virginia’s Finest is, is a chance. The winners get cash, but to me, the real prize is the opportunity to perform in the next year. Winners and even some that did not win come out and appear on shows with me. I also try to connect them with organizations that are producing events and need entertainment. This will be the third year for the event.
Graffiti: What are the biggest gigs you’ve done?
Lady D: The biggest crowd I’ve played in front of has to be the O’Jays concert at the Clay Center. Also, my Lady and the Empress performance in Asheville, N.C. “The Lady and the Empress” is a musical stage play that I wrote and perform as blues legend, Bessie Smith.
Contact Tamar at email@example.com