up a mix of bluesy jazz vocals covering some well known song standards,
All Shades Of Blues is a fine introduction to the art of singer
Beverly Lewis. Recording in South Florida, Beverly gets fine support
from some gifted musicians including guitarist John Fifielda
guitar multi-tasker who is often masterful at merging a number of
electric guitar sounds and styles, sometimes within the scope of a
single song. Covers highlighted on the ten track, 38 minute CD include
fine renditions of the Cannonball Adderly classic, written by Joe
Zawinal, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy and the B.B. King favorite
Everyday I Have the Blues, here blending in the Billie
Holiday standard Fine And Mellow. That uptempo, rockin
groove is what Ms. Lewis excels at. Some writers have mentioned comparisons
between Beverly Lewis and time honored vocal icons like Ella Fitzgerald
and Billie Holiday and after hearing her album it's hard to argue
with that point. Backing up Beverly's musical appeal here are top
players such as Sammy Figueroa (percussion), Randy Singer (harmonica),
and Lee Levin and Göran Rista (drums). In addition to fine mixing
from Göran Rista and mastering by Bob Katz, the CD also benefits
from a number of horn players, including those who have worked with
jazz-rock icon Blood, Sweat & Tears. Offering an interesting contrast
to John Fifields work on his recent solo album, It Is What
It Is... the sound of All Shades Of Blues is very well
recorded and overall the CD presents an impressive album of solid
presents an interview
with BEVERLY LEWIS
mwe3.com: Where do you draw inspiration from musically and what artists
and favorite recordings are part of your important musical influences?
Lewis: I get inspired by good music in general. It really depends
on the mood that I'm in, but generally speaking, I love soul, blues
and jazz. Growing up, I heard a lot of Ray Charles, Hank Williams,
Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis and big band music. Because I grew
up mainly in Toledo, which is outside of Detroit, Motown was the big
thing. Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, and then later Bob Seger
were some of my favorites. I absolutely love good soulful Gospel music,
which is why I think Aretha is the best, piano wise and vocally. When
Janis Joplin first came out with "Piece of my Heart" I was
completely impressed with her. However, I have to say, I think one
of the best male vocalists had to be Lou Rawls. In the 70's, I fell
in love with Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King and Delbert McClinton. I really
love all kinds of swing. Grand Funk Railroad was also a big favorite.
In the early 80s Ernestine Andersonwho is like a female
Lou Rawlsand Denise LaSalle became a couple of my favorite singers
to listen to along with revisiting Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. At
that time I was just starting to really get into Miles Davis also.
mwe3.com: You started performing at a very early age. Did you go through
formal musical and/or vocal training and what songs did you like to
sing and want to sing early in your career?
BL: I can't remember a time that I wasn't singing and dancing. The
short time that we lived in Chicago was the first time that I sang
in a show, I was probably about 4. When we moved to Toledo, I first
started taking ballet at 6 and at 7 started taking singing lessons
from Lola Smith. Lola and her ex-husband used to have a local radio
show. I also studied drama and did shows at the repertoire theatre.
Between my singing teacher and doing musicals I learned a lot of standard
tunes which have served me well through the years.
I used to sing jingles for some local radio ads and my first band
gigs were with the Johnny Knorr Big Band and with the Dixieland Jazz
band. I had a blast with the jazz Band. So much fun. Now I'm very
partial to singing with horns. Plus, I love to swing dance and that
fills the bill. I love singing and performing and feel more like myself
on stage than off.
mwe3.com: How did the making of All Shades Of Blues take shape
and what are some of your favorite songs on the album? Your versions
of "Everyday I Have The Blues" and "Mercy, Mercy Mercy"
are definite highlights.
BL: Well for many years I got hired to sing what other people wanted
me to sing whether it was top 40 or rock or recording jingles and
singing for dance school records. But I came to a point in my life
that I just decided to sing the music that I enjoy singing and put
it to CD. So really, I made the album for me and hoped that when others
heard it, that they would like it also.
I'm not quite sure which song I would pick off the album as my favorite,
because I like all the tunes, but I lean towards "The Jealous
Kind." John Fifield plays a really mean slide guitar on it, which
I love. I remember hearing Mercy, Mercy, Mercy growing
up and every time I would go on jazz gigs I would hear it instrumentally
and so I decided that I would learn it, so I picked up records of
The Buckinghams and Ernestine doing the tune and shed
Everyday I Have The Blues / Fine and Mellow is something
I just kind of fell into. I had a keyboard player friend back home,
Eddie Abrams, that we used to jam together at a club in Toledo called
Rusty's and I would sing Fine And Mellow with him as a
ballad. Then we started doing it as a swing and gradually, I started
adding verses from Everyday I Have The Blues here and
there as we were jamming to it and it evolved into what is on the
mwe3.com: You also worked in the movie industry in Florida? What did
that experience bring to your musical and artistic background and
how do you like living, working and recording in Florida?
Yes, I did some Toyota commercials and did some extra work in a few
movies down here. I need to get back to that in the not too distant
future. But I got to tell you, nothing beats singing in front of a
receptive audience. It does my heart good to make people happy and
hopefully lighten up their lives. After all that's what entertainment
is supposed to do, otherwise we might as well just stick to playing
our living rooms.
I love Florida. John, my husband, and I call it our little slice of
paradise. Right now, South Florida is really hot for the blues and
R&B which just suits me fine. We are lucky to have some very good
musicians that play blues and jazz down here. Tracy Fields, a D.J.
at WLRN, has been very supportive of the local musicians and singers
mwe3.com: How did you decide what songs were going to be featured
on the All Shades Of Blues album and how did you and John Fifield
and Teddy Mulet work together on the song arrangements?
BL: Well, we recorded the majority of All Shades Of Blues in
our recording Studio, TMB, with the exception of the drums which was
done at Goran Rista's studio and Lee Levin's studio.
Teddy Mulet was wonderful to work with. He's so talented. I gave him
the idea of what I wanted and he more than did an excellent job especially
on All Blues. He played all the layers and arranged the
horn parts on Mad About Him, Sad Without Him Blues. I
met Teddy back in the early 80's before he got with the Miami Sound
Machine and he was playing bass and working with his then wife, Debbie,
who was singing. Now he's been working with Blood, Sweat and Tears.
They are very lucky to have him.
mwe3.com: What are you planning to do next musically?
BL: I haven't decided yet, but one thing I can say, is it will be
something that I enjoy singing.
Thanks To Beverly Lewis @ www.beverlylewis.net