Essie the Blues Lady Neal

Essie the Blues Lady Neal

Central Region
Little Rock, Arkansas
[email protected]

Essie Neal presents blues music to students by performing on guitar and singing her own vocals. She writes her own compositions, which reflect her own experiences and outlook on life. For example, her original song "I Ain't Cooking Nothing" is a humorous song that playfully expresses the frustration of having to prepare a meal following a long, hard day of work. She uses songs like this one to show students how musical creativity is often born out of everyday experiences. "Private Lessons with B. B. King" is another original song that she performs to show students how she learned various blues tunes and guitar licks by listening to records of the great blues master. Her in-school performances consist of a range of presentations. Typically, educators introduce Ms. Neal and provide some context for her music. She then performs a concert of her blues tunes and discusses blues music's history through her own commentary. She often introduces songs by describing the context within which the songs have been written to demonstrate connections between individual life history and the wider history of blues music in Arkansas. Her presentations close with opportunities for question-and-answer sessions with students.  Essie the Blues Lady is available to conduct teacher workshops.


Essie Neal, who was inducted into the National Blues Hall of Fame in 2008, performs as "Essie the Blues Lady" in festivals, schools, and numerous venues across Arkansas. She grew up in a musical family and learned to play the guitar at twelve years of age. She formed an all-girl blues band and toured the state during the 1970s, and she has played throughout Arkansas and the surrounding states.

Essie the Blues Lady now usually performs as a solo act. Her performances showcase a great variety of blues styles and tunes, including her own compositions. She believes that blues music provides ways to build social skills, confidence, and coping skills in a world inundated with negativity. Essie sees blues music as a friend who helps people learn to overcome "the blues" as a feeling. She was recently quoted as saying "I was born into the blues; I was raised on the blues, and I'm a product of the blues."

AIE Program

Preferred Age Level: all ages
Geographic Availability: statewide
Time Availability: open
Special Needs: table, chair, electrical outlets