Vocalist Queen Esther to Release New Album “Things Are Looking Up” on April 9th, 2024 | LISTEN!

New Release
Queen Esther Things Are Looking Up

A heady mix of original songs +
Lady Day’s lost classics

New York based vocalist, lyricist, songwriter, actor, solo performer, playwright and librettist Queen Esther’s latest recording Things Are Looking Up is a genre-crossing, expansive and eclectic tribute to Billie Holiday featuring lost and rare songs sung by Holiday and original compositions.

When Queen Esther sings, the world listens. She calls her music Black Americana: her elegant and engaging eclipse of jazz, blues, gospel, country and bluegrass musical genres, invented, influenced and intertwined by African-American culture, folkways and music. On this recording Things Are Looking Up— her sixth as a leader—Queen Esther delivers a tour-de-force tribute to the legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday. Queen Esther’s robust and riveting vocals are buoyed by Greene’s bone deep basslines, Bacon’s crisp and compelling piano, Smith’s in-the-pocket drumming and McLaughin’s steely guitar. They take several lost and rarely-heard songs sung by Holiday including the title track, ‘Having Myself A Time,” “Detour Ahead,” “Glad To Be Unhappy,” “I’ll Look Around,” “Big Stuff” (written by Leonard Bernstein) and “If The Moon Turns Green,” and original works “Blow Blossoms,” “Flashin’ In Front Of My Eyes,” “Gold Standard,” “Clean Blue Flame,” and “Paris On The Moon.”

Those selections were recorded by Queen Esther to highlight the affirmative side of Billie Holiday to combat the negative images that persist to this day. “People want to see [Holiday] as a victim,” Queen Esther says. “They want to see her in a particular light. And so they frame the songs around that narrative instead of the other way around. Which is a part of the reason why I was so happy to make this record. Because everyone is constantly trying to pigeonhole black women and make them into something that they’re not.”

Queen Esther is impossible to pigeonhole because she draws from the vivid and varied Black culture of the Deep South where she’s from. She spent her formative years in Charleston, South Carolina in that state’s Low Country, where centuries old African-American musical, religious, linguistic, cultural and culinary traditions survive to this day. She lived in New York City, and earned her liberal arts degree with a concentration in screenwriting from the New School. Early in her career, Queen Esther worked with blues guitarists Hamlin Smith and James “Blood” Ulmer, and also performed with Ulmer In The 52nd Street Blues Project with violinist Charles Burnham She also worked in a blues duo called Hoosegow with Elliot Sharp. She’s appeared in numerous original Off-Broadway plays and musicals, experimental music/art noise and performance art projects.

In 2004, Queen Esther launched her label, EL Recordings. Her previous releases include: Rona (2023), Gild The Black Lily (2021), The Other Side (2014) What is Love? (2010) and Talkin’ Fishbowl Blues (2004). A recipient of many grants and fellowships, Her latest includes an All Media Artist Residency at Gettysburg National Military Park, and she is a playwright-in residence in the 2022–2024 WP Theater Pipeline PlayLAB, with a full length play scheduled for an Off Broadway staged reading in April 2024. Queen Esther is a Writer-in-Residence with the Orchard Project and she was an official participant in the 2023 Keychange U.S. Talent Development Program! Keychange U.S.: a charitable nonprofit championing gender equity and nclusion in music. Simply put, Queen Esther is, in Duke Ellington’s eloquent words, “Beyond Category.”

Musicians:

Queen Esther, vocalist
Jeremy Bacon Trio
Jeremy Bacon, piano
Shawn Balthazor, drums
Thomson Kneeland, bass

Queen Esther and her Quartet
Jeremy Bacon, piano
Hilliard Greene, double bass
Jeff McLaughlin, electric guitar
Warren Smith, drums

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