" If Etta James Fronted the Tower of Power and they were a Blues Band- THAT is what Paula Harris sounds like!"
Paula delivers a mix of Impudent, Humorous, and Naughty Lyrical content in a Fusion of
Blues, Funk and Jazz. Her band is world-class and they put on a show that is as impressive
as their sound. They won the 2012 Battle of the Bands for the Golden Gate Blues Society
and the San Francisco Bay Area, the 2012 Monterey Blues Festival’s Battle of the Bands, and
finished in the top three worldwide in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge.( after
receiving standing ovations at all stages of the competition!) This group is rapidly
becoming known as one of the hottest bands to hit the blues scene in years.
Paula, a Native of South Carolina, is also a classically trained vocalist. But with a style that
is obviously influenced by the likes of Etta James, Diane Schuur, Gladys Knight and Aretha
Franklin- it was only natural for her to gravitate towards the genre’s of Blues, Jazz and
Soul. While most vocalists who cross genres tend to choose songs that fall in the middle
ground between them, Paula’s astonishing versatility allows her to sing the full spectrum of
Her first professional job was in an 800 seat theater facility in Myrtle Beach that ran nightly
shows where Paula was a featured cast member and vocalist. She then went on to work
with several symphony orchestras such as the “Long Bay Symphony” and the “Atlanta Pops
Symphony” as well as fronting the “Carere Orchestras” for a decade. George Carere
describes her as a “Vocal Powerhouse” and a “Dynamo on stage, capable of captivating
audiences with her distinctive voice aShe now performs with her band “The Beasts of Blues”
and her Horn section “The Big Ass Brass”. On June 29th, 2012 they released their debut
CD, “Turning on the Naughty” which is receiving high praise and acclaim. They can be seen
locally at Biscuits and Blues as well as nationally and internationally.nd charm”.
Paula signed with Blues legend William Bell (formerly of Stax records) and his production
company “Wilbe Records” where she worked for five years before relocating to San
Francisco where she spent two years as resident vocalist at the world famous “Top of the
Mark” Jazz & Blues Club with Grammy Nominee, Ricardo Scales. Ricardo describes Paula as
“One of the Best Vocalists I’ve ever heard!”
My Jazz Story
I am not a purebred Jazz lover like many. I grew up listening to Dinah Washington, Helen Humes and Count Basie on my grandmothers 78rm records. I graduated to DIane Schuur, George Benson, and Al Jarreau in high school and college. Then admittedly I moved on to classic soul and funk like Earth Wind and Fire, Bobby Caldwell, Phyllis Hyman and more. I loved pop, rap, big band, country... you name it I listened to it. I am actually a classically trained vocalist and worked with several symphony orchestras. But that style is not what speaks to me. Jazz and blues do! I love the sophistication and complexity of jazz--especially when I get to mix it with the passion of blues. My kind of jazz is not subtle. It kind of knocks you over the head. I've been called brassy and I'll admit to that I DO know the value of understatement when it is called for. But I don't think an entire show should be made of that.
Several years ago I was trying to book jazz jobs and an agent told me I was " Too over the top" then went on to tell me I was a "blues singer" As someone who didn't know who Robert Johnson, Sun House and others were until in my '40s, I was at first inclined to disagree. But then I stopped and asked "Who do you consider jazz singer to be?" The agent said " Dianna Krall and Norah Jones" If you know me you'll understand why that made me laugh! Then I asked "Who do you consider blues singers to be?" The answer was "Etta James and Big Maybelle" They had a point! LOL
That was pivotal for me and since then--the blues as a genre has opened it's arms to me and I am primarily known as a blues singer. But to me--there is a close correlation between jazz and blues--especially when you come from such a diverse music background of influence as I do. My shows pull from jazz both standards and modern, as well as blues--both traditional and modern, original material and even some soul and pop tunes that I think fit the vibe of what I am trying to do. Could anyone deny that Adele doesn't have blues roots or that George Benson and Whitney Houston's pop- leans heavily towards pop?
So my shows tend to be a conglomeration of music that I feel exhibits the jazzy sophistication structurally or melodically, while keeping that earthy passion and humor that blues is known for. That said--I am not adverse to provocative lyrics and love to throw in a naught straight ahead blues right after doing a beautiful Great American Songbook Ballad. It keeps the audience engaged and wondering what will be next! Hopefully that means I am appealing to a wider audience. And All I can say it it seems to be working for me. My favorite thing is when I hear a jazz fan say "Wow I never knew I liked blues" or a blues fan say "Wow I didn't know I liked jazz!" when they leave my shows.
- Diane Schuur- Home made Compilation I have of 18 or her greates hits
- Phyllis Hyman- greatest hits
- Women of Jazz- 5 cd set( yeah I KNOW it's cheating)
- Dr John- For Sentimantal Reasons
- Luther Vandross- greatest hits( 2 cd collection)
- George Benson- The Collection