Blues Queen Sylvia – Can’t Get Along

Blues Queen Sylvia  –  Can’t Get Along

Blues Queen Sylvia – Can’t Get Along

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b. 14 June 1941, Wabbaseka, Arkansas, USA, d. February 1992. Embry began playing piano as a child and sang in church choirs, moving to Memphis at the age of 19. In the 60s she settled in Chicago, where she met and married blues guitarist Johnny Embry, who taught her to play bass guitar.

In the 70s she worked for several years with Lefty Dizz and she can be seen playing bass and singing one song with his band in the film Mississippi Delta Blues.

She shared the credit with her husband on an album for Razor Records, was part of Alligator Records’ Living Chicago Blues project, and had an album released under the name Blues Queen Sylvia on the German L&R label.

A strong singer and fine bass player, Living Blues magazine reported in 1985 that she had turned her back on blues and was playing gospel music.

Very few women seem to play bass, but Queen Sylvia Embry was a fine player who impressed Willie Dixon so much he sent her to Europe to play on the American Blues Festival tours. She also had an expressive, deep-toned Gospel voice that made her a hit on the Chicago club circuit, and was even more to the fore when she led her own band.

Sylvia Lee Barton was born in rural Arkansas in 1941 and learned to play piano as a girl, encouraged by her Gospel-loving grandmother.

Her great voice got her hired by The Southern Echoes Gospel group and, when she was 19, she moved to Memphis to pursue a career as a singer. That did not work out, but she settled there, married, and started a family.

That did not go well either, so in the early 60s she relocated to Chicago where she worked in the South-side clubs. There she met a rising young guitar player, Johnny Embry, and when her divorce came through they married.

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