Sheba the Mississippi Queen
Art & The Blues
SHEBA THE MISSISSIPPI QUEEN -
Sheba was born Martha Booker with twin sister Mary Booker in Sunflower Mississippi. Sheba learned to sing the blues while her sister followed her father's footsteps singing gospel music. Their father Leroy Booker was a gospel singer that traveled all over the south selling insurance; he was call the singing insurance man.
The cotton fields, and the church, that's where Sheba started singing. Sheba's family was sharecroppers barely making it, when Sheba was 12 years old her mom left for Florida in search of opportunities, and later returned to get Sheba and her brothers and sisters.
They all came to South Florida in a migrant’s worker bus. The family started working in the tomatoes, bean fields, and lime groves in Homestead Florida. There were many other people that had left the delta in search of a new life. The work was very hard but singing helped them make it through the day; often hands bleeding from the thorns on the lime trees and running from the snakes in the fields. It was very painful.
Sheba formed a group, she named the Grove Girls. They would sing in all the fields and on the bus on their way to and from work. Years later her family moved from Homestead to Miami. Sheba met musician Freddie she teamed up with Freddie and together they moved to New York. Freddie and Sheba forming a group called The Swingers. Freddie and Sheba did their first recording joined by one of New York big bands. In the big apple where Sheba had the opportunity to meet with Red Fox, Flip Wilson, Arthur Prysock, and Carmen McCray.
In New York Sheba was introduced to the sultry sounds of Billie Holiday and fell in love with her music; that why you can hear the flavoring of Billie in some of her songs. The swingers performed in places such as Under the Stairs" Jimmy Ryan’s Village Gate" and the library club. After fifteen years of abusive treatment from Freddie both mental and physical, with pain in her heart Sheba had to move on.
Sheba returned to Miami and teamed up with Yosiah Israel who was a keyboard player. He immediately fell in love with her voice and together they produced numerous original songs. Sheba and Yosiah were jazzy performers and were able to be seen at clubs like, Top of The Home, Supper Club, (Hollywood Florida) Emilio (Davie Florida) where Sheba had a chance to present her one of Billie Holiday styles. One night Sheba remembers a fan giving her two hundred dollars to sing good morning heartache.
After leaving Mississippi Sheba did not sing the blues for a while. She was ashamed of coming from a state that was so hard on black people. In those days when you said you were from the Delta, people would make fun of you and call you country. Yosiah convince Sheba about the blues, little did he know that he was taking her right back to her Mississippi roots. Once more, Sheba had to leave another man because of mental and physical abuses and pain in her heart.
Sheba found great enjoyment listening to BB King, Koko Taylor, Jimmie Reed, Etta James, and all the great Delta singers (including Elvis). Sheba started singing with the Wild Rob Moore Blues Band, and at a club called the Poor House, the owner Bob wanted her to sing at the Ft. Lauderdale Blues Fest. It is here where Sheba met Ken Minahan. He liked her voice and took over putting a band behind her called The Rhythm Kings.
Sheba and The Rhythm Kings went all over, from the Florida Keys ,all the way back to Mississippi where she did a live radio performance singing Billie Holiday's famous song Strange Fruit. Shortly after Sheba produced the Miss Good -n-Plenty CD, it receives some airtime on the DMX BLUES STATION. There has always been growth in pain for her after five successful years it was the end of Sheba and The Rhythm Kings. Sheba survived it picked up her tracks and started doing a singles at parties, clubs, and hotels.
After the breakup with The Rhythm Kings she tried other bands including the True Blue Band, where she picked up some new songs that are on her CD. Sheba has taken control of her life, and music and doing her own things, she is in charge, and it showed throughout the CD "Butter on My Rolls".
Some fascinated fan once told her you must sing and keep on singing so that people can see the living miracle of God in your voice.
I have paid the price to sing the blues.
Weinberg Bob (City Link Music) “Sheba, also known as, Sheba the Mississippi Queen, and her band are a double barrel of musical entertainment. The band takes the stage with years of musical experience. They get the crowd ready for some fun and dancing. When Sheba takes the stage, she commands and wins the hearts of men and women alike.
When you hear Sheba’s voice, you hear the influences of Billy Holiday, Etta James, Tina Turner, Aretha, and Big Mama Thornton. She can go from Good Morning Heartache to Tell Mama, Proud Mary, Respect or a little Hound Dog.
The music off her CD, “A Real Good Women,” takes you back to the times of sawdust on the floor, where you bump and grind all night long. Drawing from her life experience from hurt and pain, she wrote all the songs on the CD. If you like it fast and hot she will hit you with Dance Jump and Shout, Hey Girlfriend, or Ms Good-n-Plenty. If you like it nice and slow, she can do some Good Good Loving and Big Man. When the night is over, you will know that you have been entertained by one of the best that Florida and Mississippi has to offer.”