FEATURE: SUSAN TEDESCHI

Susan Tedeschi is an American blues and soul musician known for her singing voice, guitar playing, and stage presence. A multiple Grammy Award nominee, she is a member of the Tedeschi Trucks Band (originally known as “Soul Stew Revival”), which is a conglomeration of her band, her husband Derek Trucks’s The Derek Trucks Band, and other musicians.

Tedeschi served as a judge for the 7th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists’ careers.

41st Annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Presented by Shell - Day 5Susan Tedeschi was born on November 9, 1970, in Boston, Massachusetts, to a family of Italian ancestry (Tedeschi means Germans in Italian) and was raised in Norwell, Massachusetts. She is the daughter of Dick Tedeschi, granddaughter of Nick Tedeschi and great-granddaughter of Angelo Tedeschi, founder of Tedeschi Food Shops, a New England-based supermarket and convenience store chain. Tedeschi made her public debut as a six-year-old understudy in a Broadway musical. As a youth she sang for family members and listened to her father’s record collection of old vinyl recordings such as Mississippi John Hurt and Lightning Hopkins. Raised as a Catholic, she found little inspiration in the church choir and attended predominantly African-American Baptist churches, feeling the music was “less repressed and more like a celebration of God.” In bands since the age of 13, she formed her first all-original group at 18, The Smokin’ Section, in the nearby town of Scituate.

After graduating Norwell High School, Tedeschi attended the Berklee College of Music, where she sang in a Gospel choir. She performed show tunes on the Spirit of Boston and received her Bachelor of Music degree in musical composition and performance at age 20. During that time, she began sitting in on blues jams at local venues and immersed herself in the Boston music scene.

Tedeschi formed the Susan Tedeschi Band in 1993 featuring Tom Hambridge and Adrienne Hayes. She learned how to play blues guitar in Boston from musician Tim Gearan in 1995. It was then she really began to hone her skills on the instrument. In December the band released Better Days to regional audiences. Record contracts were difficult to keep together;[clarification needed] however, recording sessions from 1997 were acquired by Richard Rosenblatt and the band was signed to indy label Tone-Cool Records. Just Won’t Burn, featuring young guitarist Sean Costello, was released in February 1998 to very positive reviews, particularly from blues critics and publications. Susan was the first artist to play the initial Sunset Sessions in March 1998 at the Marriott in the US Virgin Islands.

In 1999, Tedeschi played several dates in the all-woman traveling festival Lilith Fair organized by Sarah McLachlan. Throughout 1998 and 1999 she toured extensively throughout the United States and drew larger crowds.

Eventually Tedeschi was opening for John Mellencamp, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, The Allman Brothers Band, Taj Mahal and Bob Dylan. In 2000, Just Won’t Burn reached Gold record status for sales of 500,000 in the United States, rare for a blues production. She recorded two tracks with Double Trouble band members Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon for their album.

XasDSC05202She opened for The Rolling Stones in 2003 and played in huge venues, gaining national exposure. Somewhat surprisingly, the gig wasn’t financially lucrative. According to Tedeschi, “They pay, but it’s not great. I don’t make any money ’cause I’ve got to pay all my sidemen. I’ll be lucky if I break even.”

In 2004, Tedeschi was featured on the PBS show Austin City Limits, flanked by William Green, on Hammond organ, Jason Crosby, playing keyboards, violin, and vocals, bassist Ron Perry, and Jeff Sipe, on drums. The performance was extremely well received.

Susan Tedeschi’s voice has been described as a blend of Bonnie Raitt and Janis Joplin, which she maintains is not surprising given that both have been her influences. Her guitar playing is influenced by Buddy Guy, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Freddie King and Doyle Bramhall II. On the album “Just Won’t Burn,” she lists a multitude of inspirations from various genres. This list includes Irma Thomas, Etta James, Bob Marley, Toots Hibbert, Aretha Franklin, Otis Rush, Ronnie Earl, Otis Clay, Ray Charles, Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Dennis Montgomery III, Orville Wright, Walter Beasley, Kenya Hathaway, and Mahalia Jackson.

susan_tedeschi_002In December 2001, Tedeschi married Allman Brothers Band slide guitarist Derek Trucks, bandleader and lead guitarist of The Derek Trucks Band. The pair met in New Orleans when she was the opening act on the Allman Brothers Band’s 1999 Summer Tour. They have two children: Charles Khalil Trucks, born in March 2002, is named for saxophonist Charlie Parker, guitarist Charlie Christian, and author Khalil Gibran. Sophia Naima Trucks, born in 2004, takes her unusual middle name from the John Coltrane ballad, composed in honor of his first wife. They reside in Jacksonville, Florida.

Tedeschi, with her powerful vocals and Trucks on guitar complement one another, and have toured together frequently under the name “Soul Stew Revival”. This includes the members of The Derek Trucks Band, the members of Susan Tedeschi’s band, and other musicians who travelled with them, including Trucks’ younger brother, drummer Duane Trucks. In 2008, they added a three-piece horn section.

7290452576_d0571ca9dc_zIn 2010, both Susan Tedeschi and her husband Derek Trucks announced a hiatus for their solo bands, and formed a new group called Tedeschi Trucks Band. The group performed at a number of festivals including Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival, Fuji Rock Festival and others. Unlike their previous collaborative project – Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi’s Soul Stew Revival – the Tedeschi Trucks Band focuses on writing and performing original material, and is the focus of both Trucks and Tedeschi for the foreseeable future.

Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi – Jacksonville Home Studio