Interview with Dede Priest, a unique singer that crosses lines and "turns Blues, Soul, and Jazz inside out"

"I am sheltered by the Blues.  My deepest, most tender, most passionate, most memorable, warmest experiences I have found and felt inside the HOUSE of the Blues."

Dede Priest: Modern Day Blues Queen

Dede Priest grew up in Dallas, Texas, raised by her hard-working, young mother. As a little girl, Dede would sing along to whatever she could find. As she grew older, it was the rawness of Blues and Gospel that shaped her talent the most. Moving to Austin, Texas to attend the University of Texas, she earned a degree in Philosophy, then followed her heart and let the music lead. In Austin, Texas, a thriving live music haven, Dede began singing professionally. Brandishing vocals rooted in the Texas Blues tradition, Dede Priest has shared the stage with Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Leon Russell, Tommy Shannon (Double Trouble), and Harry Belafonte, among others. 

Pinned early on as a “Modern Day Blues Queen”, Dede Priest is now gaining wider international recognition for her powerful delivery of a unique style that crosses lines and “turns Blues, Soul, and Jazz inside out”. Performing in the USA and Europe, Dede Priest continues to forge ahead with successful shows, radio play, and television appearances, including prestigious events.

In 2011, Dede Priest released “KINKY AT THE ROOT”, an honest and deeply personal portrait, and a well-received follow-up to her previous CD jewel, “CANDY MOON” (2007), which also received exceptional reviews. Since early 2013, Dede Priest has been busy with a new project, TANGLED EYE, in which she sings and plays violin. Raw and simple with a deep love for American Roots Music, Tangled Eye is a unique line-up of musicians with broad taste and an open mind, so many musical influences shine through. Despite the trio's short existence, Tangled Eye has already performed in many different countries and their released the debut album "Dream Wall" (2014).

Interview by Michael Limnios

Why did you think that the Jazz and Blues music continues to generate such a devoted following?

Blues and Jazz (like all music, really) are pieces of a puzzle … sparking gemstones on the road of life … you want to pick them up, hold them up to the sun, and learn something wonderful …

How do you describe Tangled Eye sound and progress, what characterize Dede Priest’s music philosophy?

Tangled Eye is open, honest, rough, and raw.

My music philosophy is simple: feel first, think later …

"Blues and Jazz (like all music, really) are pieces of a puzzle … sparking gemstones on the road of life … you want to pick them up, hold them up to the sun, and learn something wonderful …" (Tangled Eye: Dede, Jasper Mortier and Jan Mittendorp, Photo by Stephanie Faber)

What’s the best jam you ever played in? What are some of the most memorable gigs you've had?

One of the best jams ever for me was when Tommy Shannon showed up unexpected to play bass at one of my first gigs!

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you?

I’ve met so many great people over the years … I wouldn’t know where to begin to answer this question.

What is the best advice ever given you?

Never worry about all the ducks lining up … Never worry about all the stars lining up … Just follow your heart and make it happen.

Are there any memories from the famous Texas scene where you grew up which you’d like to share with us?

When starting out in Austin, I remember how grateful I was that people like Alan Haynes and Uncle John Turner were so supportive, down-to-earth, and at arms-reach!

From the musical point of view what are the differences between European and USA blues scene?

I can’t think of any differences!  After a few whiskeys, wines, and gins, they are very similar!  (Smile)

"I hope to keep growing as an artist, as a musician, as a human being.  The journey is my treasure.  My biggest fear is too much time between gigs!" (Photo by Jan Karow)

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past?

Sometimes, I feel like the focus is less about substance and hardwork and more about fame and fortune.

What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I hope to keep growing as an artist, as a musician, as a human being.  The journey is my treasure. My biggest fear is too much time between gigs!

Which memory from Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Leon Russell, and Tommy Shannon makes you smile?

After the show, a man asked Clarence Gatemouth Brown to sign his guitar. Gatemouth refused to put his signature on the other man’s guitar and got a bit hard with the annoying man! Hahahaha But, shortly after being hard and tough to this man, Gatemouth turned tender and sweet and said he wanted to have a picture taken with me.  I couldn’t believe it! I will never forget how CHARMING he was!  (I wish I had a copy of that picture!)

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues with Soul and continue to Jazz and Gospel music?

Reservoirs of deep emotion … Heart, soul, love, hate, pain, pleasure … That’s what connects and relates one to the other.

What do you learn about yourself from the blues and what does the blues mean to you?

I am sheltered by the Blues. My deepest, most tender, most passionate, most memorable, warmest experiences I have found and felt inside the HOUSE of the Blues. 

"Music is the terminology of the heart and soul …"

Photo by Jan Karow

In 2011, Dede released “KINKY AT THE ROOT” and follow-up “CANDY MOON” (2007). Since early 2013, Dede Priest has been busy with project, TANGLED EYE

What does to be a blueswoman in a “Man Man World” as James Brown says?

“I am woman, hear me roar.”

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?

Timemachine, take me to 4 live concerts … I miss what I never saw “live”.  I miss what I never heard “live”.

I want to see Freddie King performing  “Ain’t No Sunshine”, LIVE!

I want to see Albert King performing “As The Years Go Passing By”, LIVE!

I want to see Don “Sugarcane” Harris performing  “Cupful of Dreams”, LIVE!

I want to see Big Mama Thornton with Buddy Guy …

You have a degree in Philosophy. How can the music help us? What is the relation: music and philosophy?

Music is the terminology of the heart and soul …

Dede Priest - official website

Photo by Patricia Ramaer 

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