An Evening with Gaye Adegbalola by Monica Yasher

Posted on 4/14/2010 by Monica Yasher

(Pittsburgh, PA) On March 29th, California University of Pennsylvania offered a unique blues event where the history of women and the blues was presented.  What a great evening in honor of Women's History Month!  The guest of honor was Gaye Adegbalola, who shared with Roddy Barnes, her sheroes with a one evening Neo-Classical Blues Concert.  The purpose of the event was to show the strength of women through blues music selections and artist discussion. 

Ms. Adegbalola is more than qualified to offer expertise in this arena.  She was named the Virginia State Teacher of the Year in 1982.  She is a Blues Award Nominee this year.  With this nomination, she hopes to have a pair of awards sitting on her mantle!

It was evident that Roddy and Gaye, who have been working together for a while, have a great friendship.  They appeared dressed up in the spirit of great blues divas of the 1920s and 30s, with a bit of a twist, as both were donned in tuxedos.   The grand piano on the stage added to the element of moving back into time, rather than using an electronic keyboard of today.  Though dressed formally, their stage presence was informal.  As laid back hosts of their own party, they invited you in to just relax and enjoy the show.  You were drawn in to listen to the stories and enjoy the music, though the reality was the content of the show was really quite serious as the origins of blues music and lyrics and how lives were written to share sad, often intense, moments of a life were brought to life. 

Ms. Adegbalola offered her interpretation of song lyrics of the 20's and 30's, that are still pertinent for today.  As I spoke with Gaye a few days later, I discussed with her how I wish I would have taken my daughter to see her show.  She touched on topics such as pregnancy with the song,  'Careless Love'. 

When i wore my apron low
Couldn't keep you from my do'
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well

Now i wear my apron high
Scarcely ever see you passing by
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well

When Gaye performed this song, she used hand gestures to depict that the girl's apron was cut low.  When she began to sing the second verse with a circular hand gesture, she depicted that the apron was high due to a woman carrying a baby.  This was a song of consequence that still can hold true for today's world.

The blues music of the 20's and 30's was so before it's time.  As much as many are disenchanted with rap or hip hop lyrics of today.   The blues lyrics were on the forefront of provocative discussion.  Discussions of pregnancy, abuse of women, prostitution, alcoholism, infidelity, homosexuality, gender politics, prisons, racism, etc.  These women of the blues were the first to discuss the issues of today, that were then. 

Keep in mind this was an event to recognize Women's History month.  And as I talked to Gaye, she shared that women are quite resilient, including herself.  Gaye has lived through life threatening cancer, oppression from being a woman, oppression from being a black woman, and heartbreak.

During the show Gaye shared that Bessie Smith was a blues woman who owned her own railway.  Can you imagine anyone owning a railway during the depression.  Let alone, a black female?  She shared that Memphis Minnie was always the lead guitarist to her husbands who played rhythm.  And, as I write this, it just occurred to me that women as a whole probably weren't even able to vote.  But here you have yet another example of strong black women who could take the lead of a band, of a song, of their lives. 

After the intermission Gaye and Roddy let their hair down a bit.  They changed clothes and just shared some more great music!

I would recommend this performance to any woman's college, since it shows the strength that women have.  I would recommend this performance to any parent with a teenager.  If you have a teenager, you probably are well aware that they feel that you couldn't possibly know or understand what they are talking about or feeling.  Possibly our teenagers could come to realize that the issues of the past are unfortunately the same issues of today. And, yes we lived through them too.  I would recommend this performance to any men's college.   Men aren't the only ones who should be written in the history books.  And, women can be pretty strong when given the opportunity.  Our sons of today, should know and realize this.     

Speaking of men, Roddy can play a pretty mean bluesy piano! 

The following day, a lecture, History of Women in the Blues, was presented.  Video and audio clips of Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Rosetta Thorpe, Big Mama Thornton, Etta Baker, Etta James and many others were featured.

Thank you Roddy and Gaye for an inspiring, enlightening evening. 

Copyright © 2010 Monica L. Yasher. All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2010 Maureen Ceidro. All Rights Reserved.

American Blues News Staff

What makes American Blues News unique is our coverage across America. Here is our lineup:

Mon: Memphis Correspondent - Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms
Nighthawk is our resident globetrotter and man behind the scenes, as he tours with the Reba Russell Band.

Tues: New York Correspondent - J. Blake
Blake is the American Blues News review and interview guru. You may catch him out and about in NY playing the blues.

Wed: National Correspondent - Monica Yasher
Monica is our executive director and artist interview specialist. You can catch Monica singing the blues around Pittsburgh or working on some country music songs in Nashville.

Thurs: Washington, DC Correspondent - Virginiabluesman
Geraldo offers inteviews and reviews. You may have seen him at an Ana Popovic concert or conversed with him on her websites, as he offers administrative support with her music.

Fri: Northeast Photographer - Nelson Onofre
Nelson offers a Friday column of blues photography and pictorial support for the interviews covered by the team.

Jim Stick in Colorado
Jim will be focusing on the Blues Festivals in the beautiful state of Colorado, and the artists that live and visit there.

Maureen Elizabeth, our resident art correspondent, will be focusing on blues art as she explores the creation of CD covers, or speaking with artists who also have a love of creating pictorial art in addition to their music! She may also feature some of her good friends in the Pittsburgh area. In her love of art, you may find Maureen's photography accompanying writer's articles on our pages. Maureen is also our marketing director.

Pittsburgh correspondent and photographer, CR Bennett, will share the Pittsburgh scene with all of you. You may also see CR's pictures accompanying other writer's articles.

We head to the big state of Texas! Abby Owen, our Texas correspondent.

Another big area to cover, the West Coast with Casey Reagan, Casey will feature many artists and events on this ocean's shores.

Lastly, we have our roving blues entertainment writer,
Chef Jimi.

And of course, we will surprise you sometimes!

Internet Marketingdata recovery