Tennessee Jazz and Blues Society joins the Nashville music community in mourning the passing of Marion James — musician, humanitarian, friend, and “Nashville’s Queen of the Blues.” Ms. James passed away December 31 after a stroke.
Ms. James has been a respected blues singer and songwriter for over 60 years. She expressed her deep roots in blues and gospel music through her writing, her embodiment of the genres, and impassioned performances that brought her local and international acclaim.
Marion James has also been a vibrant and consistent advocate for supporting the lives and needs of musicians in and of Nashville. From its inception in 1983, her idea of a musician’s reunion soon became a highly anticipated annual performance and fundraising event benefitting the Musician’s Aid Society and other local organizations. For over 30 years, each reunion has brought together the blues and R&B communities in a way that no one else has, honoring the artists body of work and celebrating the historic Jefferson Street neighborhood where much of Nashville’s blues and jazz scene thrived in its early history.
Marion James leaves a legacy rich with her knowledge of music, mastery of performance, compassion and dedication of service. Her life’s work is deeply etched in Nashville’s arts and cultural history.
The Nashville Scene published a remembrance of Marion James by Ron Wynn in its Janury 7 edition . . .
Marion James was a giant among musicians, even though there’s no long string of hit singles or albums carrying her name. James, who died New Year’s Eve at 81 following a stroke, tackled a challenge so often ignored in the music industry: seeing that legacies are remembered, and addressing the daily challenges of struggling musicians.
For more information about Marion’s life, and memorial plans, see the January 1 Tennessean article.
We lift up her family, friends and colleagues and offer our condolence, love and support.
(Photo credit: Scott Hammaker. Photo courtesy of the Nashville Jazz Workshop)