Making a Scene Presents an Interview with Trudy Lynn
Born Lee Audrey Nelms in Houston’s Fifth Ward, Trudy Lynn comes from strong musical stock: the late Al “TNT” Braggs, one of Houston’s most electrifying R&B vocalists and a prolific songwriter for Bobby “Blue” Bland, was her cousin. Growing up, she and her five siblings would gather on their big screened-in porch to sing in talent shows for the neighborhood kids. By high school, she took it to the next level as a member of the choirs and jazz groups, even joining Archie Bell as one of the Drells, back in ’64 before they took off. It was Albert Collins who was the first to get her on the stage while still in high school, at Walter’s Lounge on Lockwood. After singing ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ and ‘Money,’ Lynn knew she had found her calling.
In 1965 after graduating from high school, Lee Audrey went to Lufkin, Texas, north of Houston, for the summer. Her cousin took her out to a white venue, the Cinderella Club, where she made sure the club owner knew she could sing. When called upon to fill in for their regular singer, Lee Audrey needed a stage name. It was there that she saw the name ‘Trudy’ amidst the other writings on the wall and decided that’s what she wanted to be called. Performers Gloria Lynne and Barbara Lynn also inspired her new name.
Lynn also worked with trumpeter Calvin Owens in the “Slippery Hill” area of Lufkin. There was a club where they had all the black shows, big shows. Lynn also worked with guitarist/bassist I.J. Gosey. Between there and the clubs in Houston, her reputation was growing, and soon Clarence Green was trying to track her down. One of Houston’s hottest blues guitarists (his brother Cal was with Hank Ballard and the Midnighters), Green he needed a replacement for his vocalist, Luvenia Lewis, and Lynn spent the next five years working with, and learning from him.
In 1973, Sinett Records issued her debut 45 pairing “Long Live the Blues” and soul ballad “What A Waste,” produced by the late Oscar Perry. Her next entre into the studio was with producer Huey P. Meaux, the now-infamous Crazy Cajun. Interestingly, they did a recut on the Monkees’ song “I’m A Believer.” They also waxed “Love is a Strange Thing” but it ended up on the back burner when Freddy Fender grabbed the spotlight and took off.
Lynn’s next label association was with Atlanta-based Ichiban Records. After doing a few gigs with her band, guitarist Gary B.B. Coleman, one of Ichiban’s primary artists and producers, recommended her. Phone conversations with John Abbey ensued, demos were shared and by 1989, Lynn’s Ichiban debut album Trudy Sings the Blues was released. Come to Mama (1990), The Woman in Me (1991), I’ll Run Your Hurt Away (1993), and 24 Hour Woman (Trudy co-produced the 1994 set) came close behind. Lynn developed into one of Ichiban’s flagship artists, and emerged as one of the country’s leading blues chanteuses. Overseas performance opportunities soon followed, and haven’t stopped since.
After European releases for Ruf and Isabel and Memories of You on Jus Blues in 2002, Lynn entered into another longstanding label relationship with Connor Ray Music. The late Jerry Lightfoot introduced her to label owner, harpist Steve Krase, and she was given the creative freedom to write new music while still recording select vintage covers, with dynamic results. Her acclaimed Royal Oaks Blues Café (2013) reached #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart. Everything Comes with a Price (2015), I’ll Sing the Blues For You (2016) and Blues Keep Knockin’ (2018) followed, all recorded at Houston’s famous Red Shack Recording Studio and co-produced by Krase and Rock Romano.
A twelve-time Blues Music Award nominee, Lynn received two career-defining awards in 2019: the Living Legend Blues Award from the Houston Blues Society and the Jus’ Blues Music Foundation’s Willie Mitchell Lifetime Artist Award. Now, as her seventy-fifth birthday approaches, Ms. Trudy Lynn celebrates and asserts her position as Golden Girl, the title of her latest album, slated for March 18, 2022 release on Nola Blue Records.