In a world dominated by male performers, one woman stands out. Her guitar playing and soulful voice have propelled her to amazing heights, drawing international recognition from around the blues world. This unique artist – Deborah Coleman – will perform Sunday, April 10, at the Midnight Blues Club & Restaurant as part of the club’s 2005 Sunday Night Blues Series.

Born in Portsmouth, Va., in 1955, Coleman was deeply affected by a concert she saw when she was 21. The show featured blues greats Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker on the same bill.

“I will never forget that show,” she says. “It started me on a path to my roots.”

When she was 25, Coleman got married and put her musical career on hold. She worked as an electrician and focused on raising her daughter. “I raised a family, held a 9-to-5 job, then finally decided to play music full time.”

In 1993, Coleman got the big break she was hoping for at the National Amateur Talent Search, sponsored by the Charleston (Va.) Blues Festival. Her “band” consisted of her brother and his friend, both of whom played only heavy metal. “We rehearsed for a week and I taught them some tunes,” she recalls. “It was the beginning of my professional career.” She wowed the crowd and judges with a performance full of confidence and fire, taking first place in the competition. She immediately put together her own group and began a solo career as bandleader and featured performer.

Winning the contest earned Coleman some free studio time, which she used to record a demo disc. She also secured a deal with Chapel Hill, N.C.-based New Moon Records to record her first album.

That album, “Takin’ A Stand,” was released in 1994 and featured a fresh, energized approach to the blues. Living Blues magazine profiled her in a two-page spread as one of the top up-and-coming young blues artists.

The release of her national debut on the Blind Pig label in 1997, “I Can’t Lose,” created quite a stir. Coleman was profiled in Musician magazine and reviewed by the Associated Press, JazzTimes and Downbeat.

She was also featured in Blues Revue magazine, considered the Bible of all things blues by blues fans. Her second release for Blind Pig, “Where Blue Begins,” came out in 1998 and received even more airplay and critical acclaim.

When she released “Soft Place to Fall” in 2000, it marked her mastery of both the rock and blues idioms. The album was produced by Jim Gaines, who has worked with such greats as Santana and Stevie Ray Vaughan. The album featured mainstream selections that took her beyond her blues roots as well as blistering covers that showcased her guitar prowess.

In 2001, the release of her next CD on Blind Pig, “Livin’ on Love,” continued the rapid rise of Coleman’s musical career.

The album marked the full maturation of her many talents. Since that time, she has also produced a live album, “Soul Be It,” and switched from the Blind Pig label to Telarc Records. Her debut for Telarc was released last May 25, and is called “What About Love.” It’s yet another compelling recording full of the high-powered yet passionate blues tunes fans have come to expect from Coleman.

This writer had the opportunity to see her live last winter in Rockland, and was simply overwhelmed at her talent. “Coleman will draw emotions from you as no other artist can. She is simply that good.”

The Midnight Blues Club and Restaurant is located at 34 Court St. Tickets for all Sunday Night Blues Series shows are $15 and offer $3 off any entree. Shows start promptly at 7 p.m. and conclude at 10 p.m. For more information, go to www.3clubs.com.


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