Marcia Ball

Marcia Ball’s exuberant New Orleans-inflected piano rolls, soulful singing, and Texas-sized personality have earned her a berth as one of the country’s leading contemporary blues musicians and crowd-pleasing favorites around the world. She is a favorite adopted daughter of New Orleans and WWOZ, where she anchors the station’s annual Piano Night fundraiser.

Ball was born in 1949 in Orange, Texas, and was raised just across the border in Vinton, Louisiana. She was an early student of the piano, and soon developed an interest in the stylings of New Orleans legends like Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, and James Booker, and in vocalists like Irma Thomas. After attending Louisiana State University and playing in a psychedelic rock group, she wound up in Austin, Texas, where she has made her home ever since.

After a brief stint as the leader of the country band, Freda and the Firedogs, Ball struck out as a solo artist with her unique blend of New Orleans boogie woogie, swamp blues, and zydeco. Her 1983 Rounder debut release, “Soulful Dress,” caught national attention, and she quickly became a staple in blues clubs and on the burgeoning festival circuit. Her song, “That’s Enough of That Stuff” is a time-tested New Orleans party anthem.

Over the course of her career Ball has released over twenty albums and been featured on dozens of compilations and benefit recordings. She has collaborated with Delbert McClinton, Sonny Landreth, Angela Strehli, Louann Barton, Maria Muldaur, Terrence Simian, Tommy Castro, Mitch Woods, and a Who’s Who of the Texas and New Orleans music scenes.

The 1998 album, “Sing It,” recorded with Tracy Nelson and Irma Thomas, earned her the first of five Grammy nominations, the others include “So Many Rivers” (2003), “Live! Down the Road” (2005), “Peace, Love & BBQ” (2008), and “Roadside Attractions” (2011).

In addition to the Grammy nods, Ball has collected a shelf-load of awards, including ten Blues Music Awards and ten Living Blues Awards. She has been inducted into the Gulf Coast Music Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, and the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame. The Texas State legislature named her the official 2018 Texas State Musician.

Ball has made numerous television, radio and film appearances over the years, including a star turn in Clint Eastwood’s “Piano Blues,” which was included in Martin Scorcese’s “The Blues” series on PBS. She’s also appeared in the PBS “Performance at the White House” special along with B. B. King and Della Reese, on “Late Night with David Letterman,” “Austin City Limits,” HBO’s “Treme,” and in the film, “Angels Sing,” starring Harry Connick, Jr., Lyle Lovett, and Willie Nelson.

Ball is known for her patronage of the arts, especially in Austin, and is one of the driving forces behind WWOZ’s annual Piano Night fundraiser.


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