THEE incredible Holle Thee Maxwell - an accomplished songwriter and singer - talks about THEE BLUES

"I have learned from THEE blues that I do have in depth pain within from living others’ lives that were/are opposed to my own..."

Holle Thee Maxwell:

Thee Black Blonde Bombshell

Holle Thee Maxwell was born as HOLLE THEE MARCLA RODE MAXWELL. She recorded singles under the name “Holly Maxwell” in the 1960s-1970s for the record labels Constellation, (Curtis Mayfield’s) Curtom Records, Smit-Whit, and Star. Her songs “Only When You’re Lonely”, “One Thin Dime”, “Never Love Again”, “Suffer”, and “Philly Barracuda” were regional hits across the country. Today, her singles are sought by collectors across the world, especially in Europe where they call her sound “Northern Soul”.

Holle Thee sang her first song professionally at the age of 5, studied classical voice and piano at the age of 9, and graduated with degrees from both The Chicago Musical College at Roosevelt University and The Julliard School in New York City.

"Real blues is fading; THEE old blues masters are dying out..." Photo by F. Digel

Holle is an accomplished songwriter as well as an incredible singer. Blues superstar, Bobby “Blue” Bland covered one of her songs on his critically acclaimed album Come Fly With Me. In addition to singing soul, rock, jazz, country and blues, Holle also sings in French, German and Italian. From opera, to “Thee” blues (as she likes to call it), Holle Thee Maxwell can sing it all in a way that is distinctly “Holle”.

Holle recorded with Jimmy Smith, and replaced Tina Turner in the Ike Turner’s band. Holle also worked with The Temptations, Johnny Taylor,  The Spinners, The Dells, Fred Williamson, Captain and Tenille, Reynaldo Rey and many others. Sammy Davis Jr., Redd Foxx, Sydney Poitier, Isaac Hayes, KoKo Taylor, Archie More, Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammed Ali, Slappy White, Lou Gossett Jr., King Curtis and others have all been fans of Holle Thee Maxwell.

AN ICON…A MUSICAL LIVING LEGEND…"THEE" BLACK BLONDE BOMBSHELL…There is only one HOLLE THEE MAXWELL!

Interview by Michael Limnios

When was your first desire to become involved in music?

When I was five years old my mother, Eula Thee Gladys Maxwell, was singing and every time she got to THEE part to hit a high note, I would run out of THEE room where I was playing, to help her to hit that high note she was singing; she taught me THEE "Lord's Prayer" by Malotte and I sang it professionally at a church on 59th and Wabash Ave. that is still standing here in Chicago; that is when I became a professional for I got paid to sing it....

What made you fall in love with the Blues and Soul?

Well, I used to sing opera, (being THEE only African American 12 year young child to be presented in concert, singing German French and Italian, here at THEE Civic Opera House); I fell in love with soul music after seeing Harold Barrage, Little Johnny Williams, Otis Clay, SimTex and Wiley, stomp dust from stages and I felt as though something was missing in me; well it was THEE classical training that had taken my soulful roots out of me, so I worked hard to get as "Black" as I could, musically! As far as THEE Blues, didn't know I had them until I came back home as, always and was accused by THEE state of abusing her...which anyone that knows her and I knew that was a lie...I became broke and homeless, which I AM writing a book about....

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

I have learned from THEE blues that I do have in depth pain within from living others’ lives that were/are opposed to my own.....and that one can tell that pain in a song and also make it , what I call G"Good News Blues".

How do you describe HolleThee Maxwell’s sound and progress, what characterize your music philosophy? 

My history speaks for itself; I sing all types of genres in music; I describe myself as an "Entertaining Entertainer!" Also THEE Original BLACK BLONDE BOMBSHELL!"

What experiences in your life have triggered your ideas most frequently for your songs?

I have had such a wonderful life experience and I AM still having THEE ride of my life, so write about everything i feel and have loved to love....

Which is the most interesting period in your life?

The most interesting period in my life was with Ike Turner, after I took Annie Mae's place in THEE show with him; he was my mentor and one of my best friends;  also with jazz organ great, Jimmy Smith, whom I was his vocalist for three years: those moments/ years with those two gentlemen were THEE best thing that could have ever happened to me musically for I was taught, THEE real deal in music...

"When I would go home thinking Ike had fallen asleep, as soon as I got home, he would call on phone and say, "Holle"; I knew to just turn around and go back to THEE studio so he could sleep peacefully....that was funny...to me..." Photo: Holle and Ike Turner

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

People are in so much pain nowadays, much more than they realized ever before.....

Do you remember anything funny from Jimmy Burns, James Wheeler, Jimmy Smith and Ike Turner?

Jimmy Burns...when he and I were playing on stage, I almost hit him in THEE head with THEE mike and he ducked....

James Wheeler...when he started and he stills to day calls me "Jr."...

Jimmy Smith....When he and I would try to catch each other doing something stupid....

Ike Turner.....when I would go home thinking Ike had fallen asleep, as soon as I got home, he would call on phone and say, "Holle"; I knew to just turn around and go back to THEE studio so he could sleep peacefully....that was funny...to me....

What’s the best jam you ever played in?

With Linsey Alexander 

What are some of the most memorable gigs you've had?

Always when I go to Paris and/or any other country out of THEE USA

"My history speaks for itself; I sing all types of genres in music; I describe myself as an "Entertaining Entertainer!" Also THEE Original BLACK BLONDE BOMBSHELL!" Photos by Michael Kurgansky

From the musical point of view what are the differences between Chicago and the other local Blues scenes? 

I believe because Blacks migrated from THEE south to "up north", Chicago, it makes this city THEE authentic home of THEE blues....

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

Believe this or not, I don't know too much about past blues  remember I was singing opera, jazz, rock and roll, show tunes Broadway (I graduated from Roosevelt University (Chicago Musical College) and Julliard School of Music in NY with two degrees in music.

What are your hopes and fears for the future of Blues? 

Our African American youth are not listening to our blue music heritage, so I feel it will be a lost art form with us....and it will be again taken by whites, as we can already see.....

Which memory from KoKo Taylor, Bobby Rush, Muhammed Ali, King Curtis makes you smile? 

All my memories from these great people that were within greatness makes me grin and smile for they were powerful entities for me to be bold and brilliant......

"Our African American youth are not listening to our blue music heritage, so I feel it will be a lost art form with us....and it will be again taken by whites, as we can already see..." (Photos: Holle with Bobby Rush and Koko Taylor)

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

Blues is THEE mother and father that had all those babies, jazz, soul, gospel country and western, rock and roll and etc......

How has the Blues changed over the years? Do you believe in the existence of real blues nowadays?

Real blues is fading; THEE old blues masters are dying out.....

Which was the best and worst moment of your career?

The worst moments are right now!!!!

What is the best advice ever given you? 

Keep myself within greatness for that IS What I AM IS!!!!!

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

To Greece!!!!

Holle Thee Maxwell - Home

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