Sippie Wallace, Sippie Wallace Vol. 1 (1923-1925)

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Classic, down-home blues

Rooted in her native Houston and then New Orleans, Sippie Wallace stayed closer to down-home roots than most classic blueswomen; check "Up the Country Blues" b/w "Shorty George Blues," her 1923 debut, recorded in Chicago the year she moved there. But she was also a belter with a sly, worldly delivery; her two best-known songs are the take-no-prisoners female anthems "I'm a Mighty Tight Woman" and "Woman Be Wise," and she wondered out loud, "Can Anybody Take Sweet Mama's Place?." For sidemen, she could call on New Orleans compatriots like Louis Armstrong (that's his cornet on "Special Delivery Blues"), Johnny Dodds and Sidney Bechet. She was so strong and self-assured that she more than held her own when Victoria Spivey wooed her out of retirement in the mid '60s, and again when Bonnie Raitt introduced her to white audiences nearly two decades later.