- Love Me Right
- Smokin’ In Bed
- Still Bad
- Right Place Right, Right Time
- A Lady in the Street
By Kim Rice (SHS)
Denise LaSalle, a soul blues singer, was born Denise Allen in Leflore County, Mississippi on July 16, 1939. Denise LaSalle’s road to success began when she was a girl singing in Mississippi cotton fields. Her earliest musical influences were country and gospel. As a young woman she wrote stories in hopes of becoming a novelist. It was this ability to write that first attracted recording executives (The Clarion Ledger). Today, LaSalle makes her home in Jackson, Tennessee. She is one of the most sought after female entertainers, and in 1998 she was the W. C. Handy nomination for Soul/Blues Female Artist of the Year.
At age thirteen, LaSalle sang with all female gospel group called the Sacred Five. but eventually she began singing secular music. In 1962 she signed a recording contract with Chess Records but released no records. Her first album, “A Love Reputation” came out on the tiny Tarpon label in 1967 and later was distributed by Chess Records in Europe. LaSalle began recording with Westbound Records in 1970, then moved to ABC and MCA in the mid 70’s. Much of the material she recorded was funk-based rhythm and blues (The Big Book of Blues). She had her first hit single in 1971, “Trapped By a Thing Called Love,” followed by another gold single, “Now Run and Tell That.” She followed that with two more hit singles, “A Man Size Job” and “Married , But Not to Each Other,” which was also recorded by country superstar Barbara Mandrell in 1977.
LaSalle didn’t turn to the blues until she signed with Malaco, a Jackson, Mississippi, based recording company in the early 1980′ s (The Big Book of Blues). She has produced such successful albums as “Love Talkin, Still Bad,” and “Smokin in Bed,” which won 1998 Living Blues Critics’ Award for the Best Blues Album of 1997 and also named her the 1998 Blues Artist of the Year.
Frustrated by the lack of media recognition and radio airplay accorded to her style of blues, LaSalle founded the National Association for the Preservation of the Blues in 1984 to lobby for the music and give soul/blues fans a connection to the artists (Living Blues). LaSalle encourages her fans to be proactive. “Get involved, she says.” “There is just not enough of our type blues added to the mainstream radio, and I think the fans should demand this” (Living Blues).
In the past Denise was reluctant to travel far from home because she was raising her son. ” I feel freer to travel now since my son is seventeen years old. So I would consider European tours and other ventures that I declined earlier in my career. I started to retire from the R&B field because I didn’t want my risqué’ material to be an embarrassment to my husband, who is a minister, and has started preaching again. He says that he’s not embarrassed by anything I do, but I’d like to move in that direction and help him a little bit more (Living Blues). Denise LaSalle and her husband own three radio stations in their home town of Jackson, Tennessee. Her husband not only serves as a minister, but is also radio personality James “Super” Wolfe (The Clarion Ledger).
LaSalle’s songs have been recorded by such artists as Barbara Mandrell, Rita Coolidge, Z. Z. Hill, Little Milton Latimore and Ann Peebles (http://malaco.com/blues/dls/main.html). The undisputed queen of the sizzling blues is here to stay.
- 1939 – birth of Denise LaSalle
- 1952 – moved to Chicago
- 1962 – signed a recording contract with Chess Records
- 1963 – working as a barmaid
- 1967 – first album A Love Reputation
- 1970 – began recording with Westbound Records
- 1971 – first hit single “Trapped By a Thing Called Love”
- 1976 – signed with ABC Records and recorded “Second Breath, The Bitch is Bad, and Under The Influence”
- 1978 – moved to MCA and released Unwrapped
- 1980 – signed with Malaco Records
- 1988 – release of self titled album Denise
- 1992 – release of Love Me Right
- 1997 – release of Trapped
- 1998 – Won award for the best blues album of 1997
- 19th Annual W. C. Handy Blues Awards: “Denise LaSalle.” Available http://www.handyawards.com/nominees/deniselasalle.html, April 23, 1999
- Denise LaSalle. Available http://malaco.com/blues/dls/main.html, April 12, 1999
- Denise LaSalle performing. Available http://www.wikingfoto.se.erik.lindahl/denise.html, April 12, 1999
- Discography: Denise LaSalle. Available http://malaco.com.blues.dls.disc.html, April 12, 1999
- Gates, Lisa. “R&B greats Rush, LaSalle sing Sam’s gig.” The Clarion Ledger 15 Jan. 1998
- Hoffman, Larry. “Catchin’ Up: Denise LaSalle.” Living Blues March/April 1999
- Monroe, Art. Smokin’ In Bed. Densie LaSalle Available http://www.rcreader.com/24blues2.htm, April 12, 1999
- Santelli, Robert. “Denise LaSalle.” The Big Book of Blues. Penguin Group, 1993. p245-246
- The Cleveland Blues Festival – “Denise LaSalle.” Available http://www.clevelandbluesfestival.com/dlasalle.html, March 24, 1999