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Reneé Austin

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While she’s by no means a straight-ahead blues artist, vocalist and songwriter Reneé Austin has great potential to bring many new fans to the idiom. Attractive, intelligent, and a good showperson, Austin was born in San Diego and raised in Texas, growing up steeped in Texas roadhouse blues and soul-blues, as well as gospel music. Sweet Talk, Austin’s 2003 debut for the San Francisco-based Blind Pig Records label, has been very well received. Austin grew up in Kingsland, TX, and began singing as a toddler. Encouraged to continue singing by her parents, by the time she was a teenager she’d written her first few songs. Austin sang at school and in church, and by her later high-school years she knew she’d like to try singing and recording for at least part of her living. She counts among her many singing influences the great female blues and soul vocalists, including Aretha Franklin, Etta James, and Tina Turner.

After moving to Minneapolis during her college years, she began performing in that city’s lively blues club scene and released her first album, Dancin’ With Mr. Blue, which won kudos from the Minnesota Music Academy and won an award for Best Blues Recording. She was also recognized as Best Female Vocalist and Best Blues Artist, and Austin began opening shows for Robert Cray, Delbert McClinton, and Lonnie Brooks when they made tour stops in Minneapolis.

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