Few performers can inspire an audience like singer-guitarist and songwriter Susan Tedeschi. Her fearless stage presence, unmatched vocal prowess, and talented guitar playing combine blues, rock, soul, gospel, even country, into a masterclass performance of American music that firmly establishes her as one of the best roots rock musicians of her generation.
Tedeschi's passion for performing and writing music dates back to her youth. Born in the Boston area to a musical family, her first inspirations were the old blues albums in her father’s record collection. Her natural gifts were evident by age 6 when she was already on stage in musicals. With help from her great Aunt, an opera singer who showed her proper breathing techniques, Tedeschi developed her vocal power. She would be auditioning for Broadway before her teens. But it was her love of American roots music that would call her to a life as a musician.
Tedeschi first began singing with local bands at 13, steadily growing a reputation on the Boston club scene throughout high school and her college years at the prestigious Berklee School of Music. While at Berklee, she successfully auditioned for the Reverence Gospel Ensemble under the direction of Dennis Montgomery III, which backed up artists like Shirley Caesar and Layla and Kenya Hathaway. Being in the choir was a great honor for Susan and was a turning point in her love and passion for gospel music. The choir Tedeschi’s focus on her guitar playing also increased, inspired by electric blues legends like Otis Rush and Magic Sam. She started her own band in 1992 and success didn’t take long. By the mid-90s, she was one of New England's biggest draws and playing at major festivals across the country.
Her professional debut album Just Won’t Burn (1998) achieved gold status, thrusting her into the national spotlight and earning her a GRAMMY nomination for Best New Artist in 2000 (along with Britney Spears, Macy Gray, Kid Rock and Christina Aguilera). It would be the first of five Grammy nominations for Tedeschi as a solo artist - with each of her three follow up solo albums earning a nod for Best Contemporary Blues Album plus a fifth nod for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.
With the accolades came invitations to tour with The Rolling Stones, B.B. King, John Mellencamp and Bob Dylan - as well as the opportunity to perform at Lilith Fair with Sheryl Crow and the Dixie Chicks, VH-1's "Concert for the Century" where she met Bill & Hillary Clinton, and Farm Aid with Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews, Neil Young and Steve Earle which profoundly impacted her musically. Tedeschi has also shared the stage with an impressive roster of blues and rock icons - including Irma Thomas, John Lee Hooker, Otis Rush, Jimmy Vaughan, Double Trouble, Leon Russell, Santana, Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Bonnie Raitt and Little Feat. It was opening for The Allman Brothers, however, that would deliver another turning point for Tedeschi - both personally and professionally - when she met guitarist Derek Trucks whom she married in 2001.
Tedeschi and Trucks maintained their solo careers while starting a family and building a recording studio at their home in Jacksonville, FL to help maximize the time they could be together when not touring. In 2010 they decided to officially set their solo careers aside and join forces as Tedeschi Trucks Band (TTB). Determined to do something different together, Tedeschi and Trucks assembled a 12-member collaborative of world-class musicians, loaded up two buses, and hit the road. With the nation’s economy heading into recession and a popular music landscape that was filled with technological theatrics and auto-tuned singers, it was a decision that flew in the face of economic or practical considerations. But it would prove an ambitious risk worth taking.
TTB's debut studio release Revelator earned Tedeschi a sixth GRAMMY nomination and first win (she has a total of seven nominations to her credit), and launched a prolific touring and songwriting period for the band. With Tedeschi and Trucks at the helm, TTB has released eight studio and three live albums over the past twelve years, all with a touring schedule that has them on the road upwards of 200 days a year all over the globe. The hard-working ethic and genuine friendship and respect among its members is evident on stage and TTB carries a well-deserved reputation as one of the premier live bands performing today.
Tedeschi has managed to balance it all - guitarist, singer, songwriter, bandleader, wife and mother - and continued to develop herself as an artist. Lyrically she has consistently drawn from a well of inspiration around a woman's point of view - from the thrill and heartbreak of relationship to the bittersweetness of seeing your children grow up and go out on their own - as exemplified by Take Me As I Am and La Di Da, two of the 14 tracks that she has songwriting credit for on the band's most recent studio project - the four-album I Am The Moon. Her character of determination also shines through in her lyrics and delivery. She doesn't shy away from delivering a message on issues that are important to her - and always does so with an energy that uplifts and empowers.
She has an impressive list of guest album appearances to her credit, including John Prine, Eric Church, Herbie Hancock, Johnny Winter and Wynonna Judd - a testament to the respect and demand for her talent within the industry. Together with Trucks, she has been invited to play at the White House, United Nations, and perform at tributes to B.B. King, Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan.
Whether singing with a fiery spirit of defiance, or wrapping her voice around a gentle ballad, Tedeschi's vocal command can be awe-inspiring. Her six-string talents, steeped in the blues, can be equally incendiary at times, often rousing the audience into the loudest applause of the evening. Perhaps her hometown paper said it best in 2019: "Susan Tedeschi sings like an angel, plays guitar like she sold her soul to the devil and writes like Carole King, Buddy Guy and Al Green all at once.” (Boston Herald)