Click here to go to The Alligator Records Main Page
Born in Orange, Texas in 1949 to a family whose female members all played piano, Ball grew up in the small town of Vinton, Louisiana. She began taking piano lessons at age five. But it wasn't until she was 13 that Marcia discovered the power of soul music. One day in 1962, she sat amazed while Irma Thomas delivered the most spirited performance the young teenager had ever seen. According to Ball, "She just blew me away; she caught me totally unaware. Once I started my own band, the first stuff I was doing was Irma's." In 1966, she attended Louisiana State University, where she played some of her very first gigs with a blues-based rock band called Gum.
In 1970, Ball left for San Francisco. Her car broke down in Austin, she fell in love with the city and decided to stay. It wasn't long before she was performing in the city's clubs with a progressive country band called Freda And The Firedogs. It was around this time that she delved deeply into the music of the great New Orleans piano players, especially Professor Longhair
. "Once I found out about Professor Longhair, I knew I had found my direction."
When the band broke up in 1974, Marcia launched her solo career, signing to Capitol Records releasing the country-rock album Circuit Queen
in 1978. She then released six critically acclaimed titles on Rounder during the 1980s and 1990s. In 1990, Ball--collaborating with Angela Strehli and Lou Ann Barton--recorded the hugely successful Dreams Come True
on the Antone's label. At the end of 1997, Marcia finished work on a similar "three divas of the blues" project for Rounder, this time with Tracy Nelson and her longtime inspiration, Irma Thomas. The CD Sing It!
was released in 1998 and was nominated for a Grammy Award. In 1999, Marcia and her band appeared in the nationally televised Public Television special In Performance At The White House
along with B.B. King and Della Reese.
Ball's musical life with the Alligator family began in 2001 with the release of the critically acclaimed Presumed Innocent
. The CD took home the 2002 Blues Music Award for Blues Album of the Year. Her follow-up, So Many Rivers
, was nominated for a Grammy Award, won the 2004 Blues Music Award for Contemporary Blues Album of the Year and the coveted Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year award. Her next release, Live! Down The Road
, released in 2005, also garnered a Grammy nomination, as did 2008's Peace, Love & BBQ
. In 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009, the Blues Music Awards honored Ball as the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year. In 2010 she was inducted into the Gulf Coast Music Hall Of Fame.
Over the last few years, Ball has been the subject of features in many national publications, including USA Today, DownBeat, Billboard
, and in newspapers from coast to coast. She has twice performed on A Prairie Home Companion
, appeared on World Café
, Public Radio International's Studio 360
, as well as on XM/Sirius satellite radio. Ball has appeared on the covers of The Austin Chronicle
as well as Blues Revue
and performed in Piano Blues
, the film directed by Clint Eastwood included in Martin Scorsese's The Blues
series which aired on PBS television nationwide in 2003. Marcia has also appeared on Austin City Limits
and The Late Show With David Letterman
with The New Orleans Social Club, where she not only reached millions of people, she helped to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Now, with Roadside Attractions
and a long list of high profile tour dates, Ball will bring her blend of Texas roadhouse boogie and Louisiana swamp blues to fans around the globe. Clearly, in whatever city she performs or wherever her songs play, there is no better roadside attraction than the foot-stomping, soul-stirring music of the great Marcia Ball.