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2021 Susquehanna Folk Festival Women in the Blues

Sunday, November 21, 2021 Live on Zoom at 7:30 pm Eastern

About This Event:

Join us for an engrossing and intimate evening of women-inspired blues music featuring three prominent Blues artists: Valerie Turner, Suzy Thompson, and Mary Flower who will serve as moderator.

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Montage of our three artists: Valerie Turner at upper left, Mary Flower at upper right, Suzy Thompson at lower right, and a dobro guitar at lower left
Our three artists: clockwise from upper left, Valerie Turner, Mary Flower and Suzy Thompson

Join us for an engrossing and intimate evening of women-inspired blues music featuring three prominent Blues artists: Valerie Turner, Suzy Thompson, and Mary Flower who will serve as moderator.

Blues — which developed out of the struggles faced by African-Americans — has been around as a style of music since the late 1800s, but really took shape in the early 20th century, largely due to the often-overlooked contributions of women.

During the program “Women in the Blues,” our three artists will discuss and perform the music of the women who shaped this enduring style of music, including Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Memphis Minnie, and many other lesser‐known treasures.

Valerie Turner is an American blues guitarist-vocalist, educator and author. She plays fingerstyle Country Blues guitar — the Piedmont style of fingerpicking guitar — blues, ballads, country, popular songs, ragtime, and gospels. Valerie is mentored by John Cephas, a great Country Blues musician from Washington DC, and her playing continues the traditions of Mississippi John Hurt, Elizabeth Cotten, Memphis Minnie, and Etta Baker.

Suzy Thompson has mastered multiple styles of Southern fiddling, from prewar acoustic blues to Cajun and Creole to old-time fiddle, especially the kind that has a ragtime or blues feel. Her vast repertoire of quirky old-time country tunes and songs was learned from rare field recordings and old 78s from the 1920’s and 30’s. Suzy is a powerful blues singer in the styles of Memphis Minnie and Bessie Smith, and a highly respected blues fingerpicking guitarist, unique in her ability to combine fiddle, vocals and guitar.

Mary Flower is a master blues guitarist and singer with a deep command of and love for folk and blues string music. Her immense prowess on fingerstyle guitar and lap-slide is soulful and meter-perfect, a deft blend of the inventive, the dexterous and the mesmerizing. Her supple honey-and-whiskey voice provides the perfect melodic accompaniment to each song’s story. Her repertoire ranges from Piedmont to the Mississippi Delta, with stops in ragtime, swing, folk and hot jazz.

Valerie Turner
Suzy Thompson
Mary Flower

More About the Artists

About Valerie Turner

Valerie Turner

Valerie Turner is an American blues guitarist-vocalist, educator and author. She plays in fingerstyle Country Blues guitar — the Piedmont style of fingerpicking guitar — blues, ballads, country, popular songs, ragtime, and gospels. Valerie is mentored by John Cephas, a great Country Blues musician from Washington DC, and her playing continues the traditions of Mississippi John Hurt, Elizabeth Cotten, Memphis Minnie, and Etta Baker.

Valerie is a native New Yorker with southern roots in Virginia and Georgia. She grew up listening to classical music and jazz with her father; her mother listened to African and Calypso music. Valerie started playing the ukulele around the age of four and was introduced to the guitar at about nine. Her first music lessons were in Spanish classical guitar. She started learning and studying traditional country blues guitar in 1978.

Before Turner became an accomplished blues artist, she earned an undergraduate degree from Queens College in Elementary Education and Foreign Language, and studied computer science at the graduate level at New York University. She built a career in information technology and worked as both a systems analyst and software engineer.

Valerie and her husband Benedict Turner are an acoustic blues duo called Piedmont Blūz. They specialize in Piedmont blues music, but also perform music from the Delta blues tradition. As ambassadors of historic blues music, they educate their audiences about this early tradition and its artists.

About Suzy Thompson

Suzy Thompson

Suzy Thompson is one of the rare musicians today who has mastered multiple styles of Southern fiddling, from prewar acoustic blues to Cajun and Creole to old-time fiddle, especially the kind that has a ragtime or blues feel. A powerful blues singer in the styles of Memphis Minnie and Bessie Smith, and a highly respected blues fingerpicking guitarist, Suzy is unique in her ability to combine fiddle, vocals and guitar in the blues, oldtime country and ragtime idioms.

Suzy’s vast repertoire of quirky old-time country tunes and songs was learned from rare field recordings and old 78s, and she is particularly adept at the ragtime and blues-influenced playing of hillbilly musicians of the 1920’s and 30’s, such as the East Texas Serenaders, Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith, Doc Roberts, and others of that ilk. Suzy’s passion for old-time music caused her to start the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention , which has become a five-day celebration attended by oldtime musicians who travel from all over the U.S. to join in the fun.

Suzy currently records and performs in a duet with her longtime musical partner, reknowned flatpicker Eric Thompson, with Thompsonia (Suzy, Eric and Allegra Thompson), with the Aux Cajunals (a Cajun band, in which Suzy plays Cajun accordion and fiddle), in a duet with resonator guitar goddess Del Rey, and with Eric in the Todalo Shakers. She often works with Geoff Muldaur and Jim Kweskin as a side musician and collaborates with other musicians including Mary Flower, Craig Ventresco & Meredith Axelrod, Foghorn Stringband, and Laurie Lewis.

About Mary Flower

Mary Flower

"Flower is a complete artist, deeply versed in an array of vernacular styles for which she demonstrates an abiding love that underlies her quietly jaw-dropping technique.” —Acoustic Guitar Magazine

Mary Flower’s immense fingerstyle guitar and lap-slide prowess is soulful and meter-perfect, a deft blend of the inventive, the dexterous and the mesmerizing. Her supple honey-and-whiskey voice provides the perfect melodic accompaniment to each song’s story.

A finalist in 2000 and 2002 at the National Finger Picking Guitar Championship, a nominee in 2008, 2012 and 2016 for a Blues Foundation Blues Music Award, and many times a Cascade Blues Assn. Muddy Award winner, Flower embodies a luscious and lusty mix of rootsy, acoustic-blues guitar and vocal styles that span a number of idioms – from Piedmont to the Mississippi Delta, with stops in ragtime, swing, folk and hot jazz.

Flower’s 11 recordings, including her four for Memphis’ famed Yellow Dog Records — Bywater Dance, Instrumental Breakdown, Bridges and Misery Loves Company — show a deep command of and love for folk and blues string music. For Flower, it’s never about re-creation. Her dedication to the art form is a vital contribution to America’s music.

Tickets

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Admission to this online event is by advance ticket only. Ticket info

Live on Zoom at 7:30 pm US Eastern Time

  • $20 suggested donation
  • $25 supporter donation
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A Folk Festival Event!

Presented as part of the
Endless Summer 2021 Susquehanna Folk Festival. Many of our virtual festival events are now available on our YouTube channel!