Kathy Nobrega, Blues Singer

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Kathy Nobrega, blues singer
Kathy Nobrega

The Blues Felt Right

By Kathy Nobrega

I started singing the Blues in the early 1990ís after trying every other type of music and never feeling it was right.  Although I can sing just about any style of music, the pleasure was not there.  The Blues felt right from the minute I began singing it.  I didnít have to try to sound like anyone for the first time.  I just sang how I felt and it worked!

I have always performed in any contest I could find and when I started researching more about the Blues, I found out about the King Biscuit Blues Festival that could lead you to the W.C. Handy competition in Memphis, TN.

So, I flew to Memphis, TN to perform in the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, AK with the hopes of winning that competition so I could then compete in the W.C. Handy competition later that week in Memphis, TN.  Although, I didnít know how I would perform because I had no band mates or equipment, at that time, to be a one-woman show either.  What to do?

As fate would have it, I met a wonderful man by the name of Lou Savarin who had a restaurant on Beale Street in Memphis.  He let me sing with the piano player in his restaurant and really dug my voice.  He then introduced me to a drummer who then introduced me to some street musicians he played with.

They were performing in front of Louís place, so I took a listen.  They were pretty good.  I asked them if they knew the song Dr. Feelgood, they did and we gave it a try.  It wasnít bad for the first try with musicians I had never met before.  I even got some change thrown into the bucket!  I gave them another song to practice, after we figured out the key of F sharp was the best for me.  I am not a trained musician so I had to sing it and they had to work it out until we knew the key was right.  This was for the song, Payiní the Cost to be the Boss.

I went totally on faith, as you can probably guess, that we would come together on the day of the Festival and sound half-way decent.  So we packed up the rented mini-van and off we went.

I had never done anything in my life like this before.  Just on a whim, hoping, praying that the Blues would save my butt!

The Festival performance went well but I did not move on to the next level to W.C.  That was ok though, because after my performance at the Festival a lady came up to me and asked where I was from and where do I perform.  She said she would travel anywhere to hear me sing.  That touched me and I knew that my trip had not been a waste and that any blue feelings I had of not winning were quickly washed away.

I then went back to Memphis to be a tourist and went into BB Kings club on Beale Street where Ruby Wilson was performing.  She asked if anyone wanted to sing some songs with her.  I was quickly shoved out onto the packed dance floor by my Dad and I grabbed the mic and began free form singing whatever came out of me because I didnít know the words to what Ruby was singing.

Well, the crowd went wild and so did BBís band, the King Bees.

I also took joy in the fact that I did something ďcrazyĒ in life and just went for it.  I got to see a different part of America that I had never been to before.  I got to do the whole Elvis-Graceland thing, which was so much fun.  What a time capsule!

Singing the Blues has brought me nothing but pleasure in my life.  How ironic that the Blues really end up bringing happiness.

Kathy Nobrega Website

Read more Blues Heroes Stories
from the bookTouched By the Blues

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