Friday, March 14, 2014


A Little

Eden Brent’s piano playing and singing style ranges from a
melancholic whisper to a full-blown juke joint holler. She’s
simultaneously confident and confiding, ably blending an earthy
meld of jazz, blues, soul, and pop as she huskily invites listeners
into her lazy, lush world.

That world lies just north of Greenville, Mississippi on the two-lane
Highway 1, which follows the twists and turns of the river through
fecund swampland, time-forgotten plantations, and blink-andyou’ll-
miss-‘em communities like Rosedale, Beulah, and Stovall
before it dead ends into Highway 61 just south of Onward.
It was there that Brent was able to develop her gutsy vocal-andpiano
chops via family sing-a-longs and a 16-year apprenticeship
with the late blues pioneer Boogaloo Ames, who ultimately dubbed
his protégé “Little Boogaloo.”

“Music school taught me to think, but Boogaloo taught me to boogie-woogie,” says Brent, who appeared
alongside her mentor in the 1999 PBS documentary Boogaloo & Eden: Sustaining the Sound and in the 2002 South
African production Forty Days in the Delta.
Where most 21st century roots musicians merely emulate their heroes, Brent and Ames were both “soul mate and
road buddies,” says lifelong friend (and acclaimed journalist) Julia Reed. “She was a young white woman of
privilege and he was an aging black man in the Mississippi Delta, but theirs is a phenomenal story of mutual
admiration and need.”
Yet much more than the blues flows through Brent’s talented hands: Critics laud her “Bessie Smith meets Diana
Krall meets Janis Joplin” attitude, compare her to jazz/pop dynamos Norah Jones and Sarah Vaughn, and wax
effusively about her “whiskey-smoke” voice, which serves as a constant reminder that Greenville, nestled into a
bend of the Mississippi River, is located a few hundred miles north of New Orleans.
Whether booked as a solo artist or bandleader, Brent’s performance is fresh and spontaneous, often filled with
audience requests and participation. Her unshakable talent and her carefree demeanor have taken her across the
country and around the world, with appearances at the Kennedy Center, the 2000 Republican National
Convention, the venerable Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and tours of South Africa and Norway under her belt.
Since launching her career, she’s won the Blues Foundation’s 2006 International Blues Challenge, and was a 2004
inductee on the Greenville Blues Walk. Sharing a bill with B.B. King, Brent performed at the 2005 presidential
inauguration, and solo, she’s appeared at the British Embassy and at the My South celebration in New York.
She’s also burnished her reputation via appearances on the public radio program Beale Street Caravan, at festivals
like the Waterfront Blues Festival, Edmonton Blues Festival and the annual B.B. King Homecoming, and aboard
the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise.
But the 2009 Blues Music Awards cemented Eden’s place as one of the fresh voices propelling this vital
American music forward. She was nominated in four categories, winning both “Acoustic Album of the Year”
and “Acoustic Artist of the Year” honors (joining Buddy Guy, B.B. King, and Janiva Magness as the only multicategory
winners for the year). As Chip Eagle, publisher of Blues Revue, BluesWax, and Dirty Linen says, “in
Eden’s huge playing and singing you can hear the ghosts of Mississippi in a duet with the future of the blues.”

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