Interview with "The Empress Of The Blues" Sandra Hall - singing the blues for audiences around the world

"You feel the blues throughout times in life and when you take the stage you share the feeling with everyone in the room."

Sandra Hall: Empress Of The Blues

Sandra Hall has been preaching, teaching and vociferating the blues from a city that has played host to both gospel and blues music for the past ten decades, I'm talking about Atlanta, Georgia. She got her start at the age of four in a little town just outside of Atlanta called Oakland City singing gospel music at Whitesville Baptist Church alongside her mother and grandmother. At the age of 12 Sandra and her sister formed a group called The Soul Sisters and began singing in clubs.

Then in the 1960’s Sandra took on a career as a dancer and formed an all girls group called The Exotics. That’s when she began to open shows at the world famous Royal Peacock club. Since that time, Sandra’s musical career has soared to many heights including songwriting sessions, tours, and a number of albums released worldwide. She has been near and far writing and singing the blues for audiences around the world. Throughout her journey she has shared the stage with such artists as James Brown, BB King, Johnny Taylor, Otis Redding, Bo Diddley, The Temptations, The O’Jays, and Etta James just to name a few. Her sonorous vocals, inspirational stage presence, professionalism, determination, and strong constitution is how she procured the title "The Empress of the Blues" and has led her to the hottest blues clubs and venues in the United States and Europe for over 35 years. 

Interview by Michael Limnios

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

Blues to me is a great feeling; it comes from the heart, from the soul.  It’s a feeling that nobody else can feel but yourself. You feel the blues throughout times in life and when you take the stage you share the feeling with everyone in the room.

How do you describe Sandra Hall sound and progress? What characterize your music philosophy?

The Sandra Hall sound is classic with a side of grit. The growl you hear in her music is from the heart and you know exactly that it’s been felt deep down in my (her) soul.

What experiences in your life make you a GOOD BLUEWOMAN and SONGWRITER?

The things I hear from others, the things I’ve seen people go through in life and how others deal with their situations. People falling in and out of love. I can relate to a lot of other peoples experiences as well as my own.

"I hope the blues will continue as long as the good Lord gives me the strength to do so!"

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

The reason Soul & Blues music has such a large following is because traditional blues music is what a lot of people can relate too. They have experienced it.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What is the best advice ever given you?

I’ve met Mavis Staples, BB King, Etta James – and I’ve played with them all on the road too. They are each genuine and have a special meaning to me. The best advice came from BB King – he gave me great advice about the blues. He gave me insights about the business when I was starting. KoKo Taylor always had wonderful advice about life on the road too!

Are there any memories from gigs, jams and recording time which you’d like to share with us?

In the late 60’s, Janis Joplin was set to perform with Jimi Hendrix….That night Janis didn’t have a voice and I stepped in and performed “Ball and Chain” with Jimi. I also remember performing with Elton John in London just a few years ago. Sir Elton came out and kissed my hand, it was a surreal moment for me!

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of music?

I really don’t miss anything from the past other than the artists that have left us. The Blues were much stronger then too. I hope the blues will continue as long as the good Lord gives me the strength to do so!

Which memory from Otis Redding makes you smile?

Otis Redding – He always made me smile. He was a great person all around. Big big heart. He always made the music experience a fun place to be. He was like a soul-mate to me in context of music.

"I’d love to do more work in the USA – but in Europe is really where blues is very popular." (The Exocites with Sandra Hall, Atlanta, 1965)

What does to be a female artist in a “Man World” as James Brown says? What is the status of women in Blues?

It’s hard! It’s really hard to be in this business – because there is so much male competition!

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

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

To sing – I’d love to do more work in the USA – but in Europe is really where blues is very popular.
To go for a day – Italy. I love Italy. The people, the weather, the culture.  It’s fabulous!

Sandra Hall - official website

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