No less a music industry legend than Jerry Wexler, co-founder of Atlantic Records, called E.C. Scott "one honest-to-God soul singer." High praise indeed from the man who produced Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Wilson Pickett! Blues and R&B diva E.C. Scott possesses a warm, inviting voice and a delivery that can be smooth and sultry one minute and sassy and sexy the next. She can mesmerize a crowd down to a whisper or rock them into a loud frenzy.
Masterpiece, Scott's most recent release and her third on the Blind Pig label, is easily her most accomplished effort to date, brilliantly showcasing her special blend of R&B and soul-inflected blues. And with eleven of the twelve songs originals, it also spotlights her considerable talent as a songwriter. Stereo Review called E.C.'s songwriting "Brass tacks poetry that is witty, often ribald, sometimes sweet, and always perceptive."
E.C. Scott has developed her own style, a refreshingly original and distinctively modern approach. Her enticing, rich voice, hook-laden arrangements, and intelligent, at times humorous, lyrics come together to produce songs that aren't easily forgotten. "I want my music to have that old R&B flavor but with a new sound," she says. While growing up in Oakland, California, E.C. spent most of her time singing in St. John Missionary Baptist Church. Later, witnessing performances by gospel singers Shirley Caesar and Inez Andrews left a strong impression on her. "I thought their world was fascinating and I wanted to be part of it," says Scott. For E.C., singing became a "way of releasing, and, hearing myself sing was a form of entertainment." Her mother wouldn't let her listen to "worldly" music, as she called it, but later, via her older sisters' radio, "I was introduced to the hip stuff. I always wanted to do that, but it was so taboo. I felt I'd go blind or I'd be crippled the next day if I sang blues. I shied away from that for many, many years."
Nonetheless, she loved listening to R&B music by artists such as Gladys Knight, Dinah Washington, Bobby Bland, and Clarence Carter. At the young age of 16, E. C. began singing in nightclubs, quickly developed a following, and was being talked up as one of the area's rising stars. But Scott's ambitions for a singing career were soon put on hold to marry and raise her family. She decided to resume her career when her children were 8 and 10. "I just sat them down and told them, 'Look, this is something I was doing before you met me and I'd like to start singing again.' They thought it was a great idea and told me to go for it. They've been behind me all the way. They've been a great help."
E.C. started out singing jazz, but, "I had too much energy for jazz. I'd finish my show and want to go find someone else's show to sing in." Soon she drifted back to R&B, where she felt "back at home, and I've been there ever since." E.C.'s growing reputation allowed her to share the stage with Lou Rawls, Ray Charles, Patti La Belle, Jr. Walker and the All Stars, John Lee Hooker, and the Ohio Players. E.C. Scott and her band Smoke built a strong following in the San Francisco Bay Area with their dynamic performances at local clubs and a year long stint as the house band at Slim's, at the time San Francisco's premier blues nightspot. In 1991 fervent fans backed E.C.'s first recording, a single ("Just Dance" b/w "Let's Make It Real") that sold amazingly well for a local, self-financed project. Scott's crowd-pleasing prowess makes her equally welcome at tony high-society gigs as well as the rowdiest blues dive. In one year alone, E.C. performed at Grand Openings for the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Ballet, and the San Francisco Opera, as well as at the City's formal Black & White Ball. She's also wowed audiences at a number of blues festival stages around the country and built a strong reputation as a consummate performer.
In the fall of 1994, E.C. realized a childhood dream when she signed a multi-record deal with Blind Pig Records. Says Scott, "As a singer, being able to be an actual recording artist means living my dream. To me, a recording artist is someone who sings original material, who is a pacesetter. And it means that I'll be a part of history, which I love." Her 1995 debut release, Come Get Your Love, with its highly original material and infectious grooves, quickly captured the attention and praise of the blues community. Blues Revue said, "Scott has one of the sexiest, smoothest, and most understated deliveries in the genre and is a powerhouse entertainer to boot. E.C. is a wonderful soul singer and an effective and invigorating blues interpreter." Living Blues added, "E.C. Scott must be ranked among the best of the promising female blues singers in recent years." Many critics noted that she was a singer, not merely a shouter, who sang with grace and control as well as passion. And her self-described "blues with a hip-hop flavor" marked her as a creative R&B vocal stylist on the cutting edge of the blues.
On her next CD, entitled Hard Act To Follow and released in 1998, E.C. continued to deliver the goods with flair and style. Downbeat gave it a four-star review, noting, "Scott cooks up a lusty set of bumping barrelhouse blues, thumb-slapping funk, gutsy circa-'60s rhythm & blues, and a couple of soul beauties. Equally impressive is Scott's songwriting, informed by contemporary issues." Stereo Review praised it thus: "At a time when so many singers sound tortured and too many song-writers have nothing to say, E.C. Scott is a fresh blast from the past." The national blues publication Blues Access added, "If you're casting director on a Broadway show about a great blues songstress, select as your star E.C. Scott. Those in your audience who know blues will applaud, while the others will give her good reviews for her ballads, soul and R&B."
E.C. got 1999 off to a good start by receiving a W.C. Handy nomination for Soul/Blues Female Artist of the Year. Her recognition as a singer and performer extraordinaire was further enhanced by a string of memorable appearances on stages across the country, including a rousing appearance at the San Francisco Blues Festival, on which the San Francisco Examiner reported, "Oakland's fantastically powerful and soulful vocalist E.C. Scott just flat out scorched through the fog." With her artistry, her engaging, exciting stage presence, and her new Masterpiece, E.C. Scott will no doubt be adding substantial numbers of devoted fans to her following.
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