My very first assignment was to interview one of the star performers at The Calgary International Blues Festival.
Mr. Stuff has been a HUGE blues fan all of his life and introduced me to the old blues of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Lead Belly, Son House and who could ever forget Bo Carter's Pig Meat is What I Crave song, YIKES!! So, needless to say I wasn't really a big fan of blues music, not because it didn't speak to me, because there is no doubt the artists felt great emotion in their music, that is evident, but because I really couldn't understand what the heck they were saying.
Then I started to listen to Billie Holiday, Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin and began to understand why Mr. Stuff had been drawn into the blues. Blues music comes from the heart and soul of the performer. There is no hiding the raw emotion felt as they belt out their songs or the depths they went within to construct their music.
My fingers fumbled on the keyboard for the link to the Calgary International Blues Festival, the first name that stood out, Sista Monica. I had never heard of her before, but she definitely sounded like someone I would want to meet and interview.
She did not let me down!
At 8:20 Sista Monica took the stage and the crowd went wild. Her powerful voice filled Shaw Millennium Park and immediately I thought, Aretha Franklin. Such a strong stage presence totally captured the entire audience as families, vendors and volunteers bopped around the site. She recounted the day her name was on the marquis with the great BB King, and thought this was her chance to seek him out for a personal photo. "Hug me like you love me!" King said. This inspired her to write the song, Hug Me Like You Love Me.
After her set I waited patiently for her to sign t-shirts, cd's and a red cowboy hat. Fans were asking to hug Sista Monica and have their picture taken with her, many saying they had seen her at a previous festival and couldn't wait to hear her again. I was excited and a bit nervous. A blues great was going to give me time to talk with her, I was thrilled.
I looked over the questions I had jotted down; How long have you been performing? Where are you from? Same old same old generic questions that I was sure every other interviewer had asked before. The mosquitoes were bad and the air chilly, I did not want Sista Monica to have to endure answering the boring questions that I could find the answers to on her bio. So I decided only to ask her two.
1. You talked about Etta James being your idol and carrying the baton for the next 30 years. How do you want the next generation of blues and gospel women to shape the music and carry on?
2. You are a cancer survivor. How has that experience affected or changed your music?
Finally, the line was gone and it was my time with The Blues Lioness. I knelt down beside her and set my scratch book on the table. I shook her hand and said, "It is an absolute pleasure to meet you Sista Monica. I am Vanessa Canevaro with the Calgary Beacon. I know you are cold and tired so I only have 2 questions for you. IT WAS AWESOME!!!
She thought about each question and gave wonderful, well thought-out answers.
1. “Stay true to the tradition with original songs and writing that touches hearts and feelings.“ and, “Experience or understand and experience the pain you have to go through.”
2. “Authentic and true to myself, feelings and emotions when I sing or write a song.”
(Here is the link to the actual article)
This was my first EVER interview, I have been interviewed before but have never been the interviewer. AND I ROCKED IT!!
Thank you Sista Monica for the honor of being my first celebrity interview. Blues on Sista!!!