Since debuting as a bandleader in the late 1970s, she has played virtually every major music festival in the United States and Europe and kept a steady recording output as well. In addition to her critically acclaimed Rounder albums (Soulful Dress, Hot Tamale Baby, Gatorhythms, Blue House, and Let Me Play with Your Poodle), Ball found time to collaborate with Angela Strehli and Lou Ann Barton on a well-received album, Dreams Come True. At the end of 1997 she finished work on a similar "three divas of the blues" project for Rounder, this time in the distinguished company of Irma Thomas and Tracy Nelson. The album, Sing It!, was released in January 1998 and was nominated both for a Grammy and for a W. C. Handy Award as contemporary blues album of the year.
Five years ago Ball moved to Alligator Records, a much-respected blues label based in Chicago. Her first album for Alligator, Presumed Innocent, spent seven months on the Billboard blues charts, garnered a mountain of good press, and won the 2002 Handy Award for blues album of the year. She followed that up with So Many Rivers in 2003 and Live! down the Road in 2005.
In an era of music played by computers, lip-synched by dancers, and performed by models, it's reassuring that Marcia Ball stays on the scene. She is the real thing. You gotta love her.
Marcia Ball appears on a double bill with Chris Smith at the Ark's "Bourbon Street Blues" fall fund-raiser on Saturday, November 18.