Saturday, November 19 / 10:00 a.m.
Waking Up to the Blues: In Word and Song
Penske Amphitheater @ DoubleTree
Tickets: Free

As the youngest member of Memphis’ “first family of soul,” singer/songwriter Vaneese Thomas has had a diverse career as a backup singer for an array of artists (including Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, Joe Cocker, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson).

She is also a solo recording artist, and was the voice of Grace the Bass on PBS’ “Shining Time Station” and Clio the muse in Disney’s “Hercules.”

Her father, Rufus Thomas, was one of the first blues artists on Sun Records and Stax Records; her older brother Marvell Thomas played keyboards and sister Carla sang on Stax Records; their mother Lorene was a social activist.

When Vaneese attended Swarthmore College, she helped start the school’s gospel choir in 1971. After moving to the Westchester, N.Y. area, she and her husband Wayne Warnecke, a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer and producer, created their own record labels and wrote songs together with Ernie Poccia.

Vaneese’s 1987 solo debut single, “Let’s Talk It Over” (Geffen) was a Top-10 hit; her album, “When My Back’s Against the Wall” (1998) on their own Peaceful Waters label led to a series of successful recordings culminating in this year’s “Fight the Good Fight” (Blue Heart Records).

Vaneese Thomas Web Page