For Thornetta Davis, 'The Blues' Is First-Hand Experience | WGLT

For Thornetta Davis, 'The Blues' Is First-Hand Experience

Jun 8, 2017

Thornetta Davis performing at Ottawa RBC BluesFest 2014.
Credit David Carroll / Flickr

Thornetta Davis is known as "Detroit's Queen of the Blues." Her childhood was anything but royal.

"My mom raised four girls with the help of my grandmother," said Davis. "It was an upbringing of turmoil .... my father was an alcoholic and quite violent. When my mother got out of that situation, that's when I feel I started to live."

The GLT Summer Concert headliner said music was the healer once her father was gone. She would sing along with TV shows and commercials around the house, among other non-tradional venues. But despite the joy music was bringing her, the future Detroit blues legend said at the time, she was too shy to audition for school plays or musicals. 

"So when I got into high school, you didn't have to audition for the girls glee class, you just had to take the class," explained Davis. "That's what started my career."

Davis said she was a single mom herself when she began her blues career.

"I didn't realize I was going to be able to do all these things. I prayed on it. God kept me safe. Sometimes we had money, sometimes we didn't, but we always made it through. And that's the blues in itself" said Davis.

Not surprisingly, Davis credits her mother, grandmother, and three sisters for the support needed during those tough times. The women lived in a two-family flat in Detroit, grandma on the main floor, mother and sisters on the second.

"Just to have that matriarch family all together ...." Davis said before pausing. "When my mother would leave for work, my grandmother took over and made sure we were ok. We didn't go outside much to play with too many people. In our neighborhood living in the ghetto, it was best to hang out with each other. With crack and drugs always around in my neighborhood, we managed to make it through all of that without getting involved with any of that ourselves." 

"Honest Woman" is the new release from Thornetta Davis. She said the title comes from the day she realized she needed to be honest with herself in order to be honest with the songs. The title track kicks off the details of that journey. It begins with growing from bad relationships.

"When I wrote 'Honest Woman' I had met and had been married to my husband James. So it had a double meeting. When he married me, he made an honest woman.

Thornetta Davis headlines the GLT Summer Concert June 10 in downtown Bloomington. She said she'll bring a "bunch of CD's" and will be looking for people to dance during her show. The beer/wine garden & food vendors open at 3:30 p.m. The live music begins at 5:00 p.m. with Edward Davis Anderson's "Black Dirt Revival," followed by Los Texmaniacs at 6:30 p.m.. Thornetta Davis takes the stage at 8:30 p.m.

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