Shirley King is the New Queen of the Blues
Updated: Aug 5, 2020
Shirley King daughter of blues legend B.B. King has a new album out. It's her first on a proper major label and she was kind enough to talk with me all about it. The album is filled with classic blues and rock songs. Having King's female vocals on these adds a whole new element that breathe new life into old songs. She's joined by A list of talents such as Steve Cropper, Pat Travers, Elvin Bishop, and Joe Louis Walker to name a few. Now with with own album Blues for a King, Shirley is quickly on her way to being a legend in her own right.
Hello, Shirley what a blessing to be speaking with you today.
Shirley: Thank you. I feel blessed.
Roxtar: I have to let you know just how much I'm enjoying your album Blues For a King.
Shirley: Thank you again. You know I'm starting to get such a big head I might have to get a wheelbarrow to carry it around in. I've been speaking and doing interviews all week long and you all have been so nice to me. Everywhere I go people are telling how much they like it.
Roxtar: That's your fault for making such a good album.
Shirley: I guess it is. You see that's just the thing I give credit to Mr. John Lappen and all the
folks over at Cleopatra records for putting this whole thing together. They were the ones who chose the songs and guest artists that are on it. What happened was they got all the songs together and sent them to me. I recorded my singing here in Chicago and set it back to them. I never met anyone of them face to face.
it began before that when I got a call asking if I would do a song with Mitch Ryder and I did it. Then I got a call asking if I would do an album with Cleopatra records and I said "Sure why not." This is really my first major album release. I got another album out but you can only get it n Japan. I recorded some other songs with someone but it didn't work out so it was put on the shelf.
So this is really the first CD put out by a professional record label like Cleopatra and I've been singing for about 30 years.
Roxtar: So this is really your first official release. Congratulations.
Shirley: Yes it is. The timing is right. My daddy always told me when the time was right I was going to do my thing and he was right. The timing is right. Five and a half years after my father left me my time had finally arrived.
Roxtar: I find it a fascinating story that you didn't record with the actual musicians in the room. It's more interesting.
Shirley: It is. I never even met any of the artists on this album. I had to google search some of them. When I found out who they were I was like "Wow!". It made me feel like B.B. King 'cause you know he recorded with a lot of other artists. Not only did Cleopatra take care of the artists they even designed the album cover for me and everything. They really know what they are doing over there.
Roxtar: So if you could choose any artist to perform with who would you choose?
Shirley: If she was still alive it would have to be Etta James. I was actually going to record I'd Rather Go Blind. What happened was when I went to the studio I started to hear this song Tennessee Whiskey and it felt so good I could just sing along with it. My dream now would be to one day sing with Chris Stapleton. I went and checked him out and when I saw what he looked like and how he sounded I said "I really want to record with him." he might be country but he's got, soul. I could really hear myself singing with him. The next time I do an album I want to be in the studio with whoever I'm recording with.
Roxtar: In your album, I really liked your interpretation of Gallow's Pole.
Shirley: Wow! It's funny you say that because that was one of those songs I was really intimidated by. So many of those songs were sung by men and so some people were telling me they weren't sure it would be a good fit and I did them anyway and it ended up working out real good like Can't Find My Way Home.
Roxtar: Yeah it's excellent. There's another Traffic song on the album Feelin' Alright which you are making everyone feel alright with how you do it.
Shirley: (laughing) Oh my Thank you so much. That’s just it, most of these songs were done by men. The way Michael Buble sings Feeling Good he’s just so smooth. I really just did it and all the songs in my own way.
Roxtar: I was wondering are there any songs from your father that you would like to maybe record in the future.
Shirley: You know I would like to do an album of my daddy’s songs that weren’t the popular well-known ones. I’m going to have to take a good listen but I know there were a lot of good songs he had that weren’t so famous so it would be nice to sing them so people could know more about his material. I think that would be more interesting.
Roxtar: Absolutely. That does sound like a good idea.
Shirley: Well I know there are people in the family that are singing and starting to sing. I would like it if everybody could get together and do in a family-style way to honor daddy. I am his oldest daughter after all.
Roxtar: I read your father’s book (Blues All Around Me). I was wondering what was it like to grow up living with B.B. King.
Shirley: When I was doing some shows I used to sell my father’s book. I want people to know that every word in that book is his. He didn’t have anyone come in and write all over it. Those are his.
Growing up with B.B. as my father there’s just too many of ‘em. You’ll have to wait until a movie comes out. When I went to school and told the other kids who my father was they would never believe me.
He went out with Etta James and I used to say to him “Daddy I wish you’d married her so I could call Etta James my momma.”
Roxtar: Being a big fan that’s why you end your album with At Last.
Shirley: I had to do something from Etta.
Roxtar: Shirley, let’s say you were stranded on a desert island what would be your top three albums to have with you?
Shirley: That’s easy I would be bringing something from Etta James and of course my father B.B. King. You know I couldn’t be on that deserted island without having their music on there with me.
Roxtar: I want to thank you so much for talking with me today it’s been a real pleasure. I wish
you the very best in your career.
Shirley: You know when I was singing in the clubs' people always wanted to talk to me about my daddy but know with this album out people are finally gonna want to talk with me about me.
My daddy always believed in me. You know he always wanted me to be strong because he knew one day he wasn’t going to be here. It took me a little while to gain that confidence but I got it now.
Make sure to get Shirley King Blues For a King wherever you buy music from or follow the link to Cleopatra Records and see even more great artists. .