Susan Tedeschi’s knack for combining her passion for American roots music, especially electric blues, Southern soul and black gospel, with an awe-inspiring vocal prowess has resulted in a successful career, a series of award-winning recordings, and a devoted following. Blessed with an ability to dig deep and deliver powerful R&B belters or wrap her voice around a gentle ballad, she is a talented guitarist as well, steeped in the electric blues tradition.
Tedeschi was born in 1970 and grew up in the Boston suburb of Norwell, Massachusetts in a family that was not particularly musical — though later discovered an aunt whose vocal talent had earned her an offer to join La Scala’s famed opera company. Tedeschi’s first inspirations were the old blues albums in her father’s record collection. Her musical inclinations were apparent by age 6, when she made her debut public performance as an understudy in a Broadway musical. She began singing with local bands at the age of 13, took up the guitar and by 18 had formed her first group focusing on original music, The Smokin’ Section.
Though raised Catholic, Tedeschi was drawn more to the emotive singing and upbeat rhythms typical of African-American gospel churches. She joined a gospel choir while studying at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music. Graduating at the age of 20 with a bachelors in music composition, she continued to sing gospel while immersing herself in Boston’s fertile blues scene and had soon established herself as one of New England’s top-drawing live acts.
In 1994, she formed the Susan Tedeschi Band and, inspired by electric blues legends like Otis Rush, Buddy Guy and Magic Sam, began to focus more on her guitar playing. Her growing reputation as both a powerful and gritty singer, and talented guitarist led to her debut album Better Days a year later. In 1998, she recorded the critically acclaimed, national breakthrough Just Won’t Burn, impressively garnering Gold sales status and earning Tedeschi a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist (along with such unlikely company as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Macy Gray and Kid Rock.) In 2002, her follow up release Wait for Me was produced by the legendary Tom Dowd and was nominated for a Grammy.
Tedeschi was on her way. Through the 2000s she opened for such headlining acts as John Mellencamp, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones; as well as personal heroes like B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Taj Mahal. After releasing Live from Austin, TX in 2004, she signed her first major label deal with Verve/Forecast, recording Hope and Desire in 2005, and Back to the River in 2008. Both revealed Tedeschi ably handling an expanded canvas of rich R&B flavors and soul material, and both earned her Grammy nominations; her Grammy win in 2012 for Revelator as co-leader of the Tedeschi Trucks Band came at the close of an incredible year that included a world tour, an all-star blues tribute at the Apollo Theater, and an invitation to perform with her husband at the White House.
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