Fundraising concert will help send her to Memphis
By Erin Crowell
Thornetta Davis may be Michigans best-kept secret. For now.
The blues singer from Detroit has proven talent, performing at home and overseas and opening for R&B greats such as Etta James, Smokey Robinson, Ray Charles and Buddy Guy. In 2000, she sang with fellow Detroit native Kid Rock at the VH1 Vogue Fashion Awards.
But when Steve Soviak of the Mid North Michigan Blues Society told members of the Blues Foundation that Davis would be competing at their annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis this January, the reply was always the same:
Davis, whose voice has been described as rich and soulful the next Aretha Franklin, is on the verge of evolving from a talented singer with a great resume, to a world-class star. The MNMBS hopes the singer will come out from under the music radar when she and her band performs at the International Blues Challenge, in Memphis, January 20-23.
THE ANSWER WAS YES
The MNMBS, among other groups, has spent the last five years coercing Davis into performing at the Challenge and the answer was always no.
Davis has had a busy schedule, performing over 200 shows a year. She developed a following in the Traverse City area performing in the late 1980s with The Chisel Brothers Band. Finally, on a return trip to TC with the Thornetta Davis Band while performing downtown at Phils on Front the singer finally said yes to Memphis.
She told me things were slow in Detroit because of the economy and she asked me if I could get some bookings for her around here, says Paula Adams of WKLT. So I asked her about Memphis thinking, Oh, shes going to say no for sure, and she said yes right away.
Adams brought the good news to Soviak, saying she couldnt believe it at first.
Were really excited to have her representing Northern Michigan. Shes never played on Beale Street before, which is kind of the home of the blues, says Adams. Shes not on a record label at the moment. This is an opportunity for her to do that.
The International Blues Challenge has the potential to push Davis mainstream, gaining her attention from all the important names of the American music industry.
Shes already a regular star in Europe, says Soviak, chairman of the MNMBS. Blues artists are worshipped like gods all over the world. Its in America where they dont know her well.
As always, there are steps to everything and the first one will be getting Davis to Memphis. That is why the MNMBS is holding a fundraising concert, on New Years Eve, at the UAW Hall in Traverse City.
The evening will begin with special guest duo JUKE, at 8 p.m., followed by The Thornetta Davis Band.
Thornetta will be performing a standard set of blues songs that will be recorded live for people to purchase. She will also be performing some of her original stuff, says Molly Malewitz, Davis friend and biggest cheerleader as Soviak puts it.
When I see Thornetta perform, its like going to church, says Malewitz.
The fundraiser is an opportunity to hear the blues artist before she competes against 120 artists and bands at the IBC. For those who have already experienced the performance of this Soul Town singer, its the beginning of a much-bigger journey.
Shes under the radar, but were going to change that, says Soviak.
Tickets to the December 31 Thornetta Davis Memphis Bound Fundraiser are $30.Advance tickets are going fast, so reserve yours now at mnmbs.org or by calling 231-620-1963. The event is happening at the UAW Hall at 703 Rose Street in Traverse City. Doors open at 7pm. BYOB (alcohol allowed). There will be a raffle, give-aways, a 50/50 drawing and more. For more information on Thornetta Davis, go to myspace.com/thornettadavis.