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Vee Allen: Bio

BLUESIN' IN THE BIG EASY, 2015:

Vee Allen: Bluesin

I began working on this CD several years ago in Seattle, Washington during a jam session with my friends Dr. John and the Lower 911 & Scott Ross of Elliott bay Studio. I had hoped to record a CD of my favorite songs -jazzier types of songs - as David Cole (UK) had suggested. However, Dr. John advised me to use my own songs . We recorded five tracks and I went back to the drawing board.

One of the songs we cut was really a blues jam with me singing lyrics to various blues songs while the band played whatever they felt - lead of course by Mac’s keyboard and David Barard’s funky bass. What I realized is that when Mac and the Lower 911 play, you get this distinctive New Orleans sound that permeates the music beautifully and unmistakably. Mac’s tickling the upper register keys make me think of water and inspired me to write to the well-known adage ”You don’t miss your water ‘til your well runs dry”. That song became my “Big Easy Blues” and the entire CD became “Bluesin’ in the Big Easy.”

I spent the next couple of years trying to decide which songs to add to the CD. Much to my surprise and disappointment, Mac and the 911 parted ways around that time, so I did not have access to them anymore to complete the CD with me. I decided to pull three songs from my previous album “Woman Enough” which featured the Lower 911 Band without Dr. John with lyrics by me (David Barard helped with the music on “Source of Comfort”). The CD was mixed by various engineers: Gene Fiero at Singlesound in Brighton, Michigan; Dennis Tousana at Soundmine in Chicago; Ben Lorio at the Music Shed in New Orleans, with the final touch provided by Kevin Nix of Larry Nix Mastering service at Ardent Studio in Memphis. I have to mention that the famous “Tom Tom” Washington offered considerable help with studio sessions in Chicago. He brought in Theresa Davis (formerly of the Emotions) to add her magic to the background vocals on “Big Easy Blues”(David Barard and Nathaniel Allen III joined in on this one, also in New Orleans). David Barard and Cossetta Taylor did the background work on “Everything But What I Want”, “Source of Comfort” and “Don’t Ask Me to Let Go.”

Dr. John played on five of the songs; David Barard played on all songs on this CD and did the background on 4 songs; the late Herman Ernest played on the three songs from “Woman Enough”; Herlan Riley played on five songs and John Fohl played on all songs. I am grateful to have had these Grammy winning artists play with me on this CD. I have the highest regard for their talent.

Notable horns were provided on several tracks by Mark Kieme of Michigan and the guitar solo on “Big Easy Blues“ was by Takashi Matsumura.

Special thanks to Dr. John and the Lower 911.

WOMAN ENOUGH, 2007:

Vee Allen: Woman Enough

My son Al and I were collaborating on a blues song to honor my brother James “Son” Thomas, and the words “woman enough” found their into my lyrics and stuck there. It captured my sentiment exactly for this project: “woman enough” to do whatever I want to do. Whether what I want to do has any relevance for anyone else remains to be seen. But it sure feels good to me to put together this CD at this stage of my life.

I have always been a singer. Even as a little girl in Leland, Mississippi, I had to be reminded by my mother constantly to stop singing at the dinner table while we were eating. I couldn’t seem to help myself. And, I can’t seem to help myself now - I still want to sing.

I have recorded two albums before. One of them ,"All About Love"was released by MCA in l983 shortly after my brother Al Perkins was murdered. It was never really promoted. An earlier album was to have been released on the Lion label in l973 , but that deal fell apart although most of the songs were released as singles in l972-73.

This collection of songs contains some originals and some covers of my previously recorded material. “Can I” was released in l973 on the Lion label and made it up the charts to number 106. It is referred to as a “One Hit Wonder”. I included it here since it was one of my earliest and best.

I wrote “Your Song” for my late husband, Mark Channing. He recorded the song, Mark Bresky (keyboards)arranged it, but we never released it. I decided to sing it with him as a duet. The other duet, “Time”, was written by my son, Nathaniel (Al) Allen, III. Al also does the rap in the song. I really like it. It is unique.

The title song, “Woman Enough”, was co-written with my son Al who plays a funky blues guitar in a style that he learned from his uncle, James “Son” Thomas. The other songs are all statements from a woman who is “woman enough” to sing them. Although some seem cold, they really are not. They are survivor songs, honest songs, that have a different twist to them.

Without the Lower 911 Band who back Dr. John, I would not have been able to do this project. I followed the band out to Seattle to get this project started. David Barard helped write two of the songs. We started this project over a year ago at the Elliott Bay Recording Company with Scott Ross as the engineer. Herman Ernest on the drums is a genius. John Fohl picked up and translated my emotions into perfect rhythms, and David Barard was solid, soulful, and funky on the bass as always. Jeremy Ryan, a local keyboard player, helped out beautifully.

I came back to Michigan with a basic track and rough vocals. Richard Becker at PAC Three Recording Studio in Detroit helped to put “Time” together and introduced me to Gary Shunk, who made a real difference on all the tracks he played on. Richard was a close friend of my brother, Al Perkins, and he was the engineer on the first “Can I” record. I ended up with Gene Fiero at Singlesound Studio in Brighton, Michigan where everything finally came together. Gene’s patience, his wonderful ear, and his outstanding technical skills gave me the missing pieces of support that I needed to tie everything together. David Barard and Cosssetta Taylor, my niece and daughter of Al Perkins, provided great background vocals. Gene brought in a drummer and a fantastic saxophone player, Mark Kieme, to complete my tracks. Mark’s sound is simply amazing.

Now, we’re good to go. I hope you like this collection. I am proud that I am finally able to say that I am “woman enough” to do whatever I want to do and MEAN IT!