Blues, Gospel, Rock “N Roll, and Soul -- this is the music that made Memphis famous around the world, and Beale Street is where it all began. Watch musical history come alive on-stage as Memphis’ hottest entertainers take you from the cotton fields of the Delta to the bright lights of the Bluff City. Come join the party at “If Beale Street Could Talk…”
The story of Beale Street is the story of rural blues singers like B.B. King coming to the big city and forging a new rhythm ‘n’ blues sound. Of jazz greats like W.C. Handy writing tunes inspired by the vibrant community life centered in black Memphis. Of white country boys like Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley mixing country music and blues to produce a supercharged rockabilly style. Of soul singers like the Staple Singers adding a smoothness and sophistication, and a racial awareness to the mix.
The music of all these legendary performers is part of “Beale Street Saturday Night,” as blues diva Joyce Cobb, whose own “star” is imbedded in the sidewalk of Beale Street across from the W.C. Handy Park, uses story and song to bring history to life. Backed by a six piece band, including horns and percussion, and with rare archival photos and video footage, Joyce presides over an unforgettable portrait of Memphis and its musical gifts to the world.
Joyce Cobb is Memphis’ most beloved performer. Her singing, playing and acting have been seen in several productions related to Memphis and the blues. If Beale Street Could Talk…, a history of the past 100 years of Memphis music. is based on Joyce’s original script and visuals. An earlier version of this show, Beale Street Saturday Night, toured in 2000. Joyce also starred in a show focusing specifically on female blues performers enttled Divas of the Delta. She has also appeared in one woman theater pieces on Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith.
Previous performances of Beale Street Saturday Night:
ALLENDALE, MI at GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY
JEFFERSON CITY, MO at the RICHARDSON AUDITORIUM
BIRMINGHAM, AL at the ARS CENTER CONCERT HALL
OSHKOSH, WI at the GRAND OPERA HOUSE
GLEN ELLYN, IL at the ARTS CENTER MAIN STAGE
SCOTTSDALE, AZ at the SCOTTSDALE CENTER FOR THE ARTS
SPRINGFIELD, IL at the SANGAMON AUDITORIUM
AVON, CO at the VILAR CENTER
Born in Okmulgee, Oklahoma and reared in Nashville, Joyce first sang in her grandmother’s church. Later, she did live orchestrations for Nashville’s WSM radio and television stations. She landed a record deal with a subsidiary of Stax Records just before the label folded, but continued her recording career with the West Coast based Cream Records. Under the direction of Wayne Crook of Shoe Productions, Joyce wrote, sang, and performed a song “Dig the Gold’, that earned a #42 spot in Billboard Magazine.
During the same time period, Joyce participated in a project for RCA Records, releasing an LP titled Good To Me. The album remained in the charts for twenty-two weeks, peaking at number eleven. In the early eighties, she worked at Cotton Row Productions with producer Nikos Lyras. Joyce opened for Taj Mahal, The Temptations, Ashford & Simpson, Muddy Waters, Al Jarreau, and in October 1992, she toured Europe with Chicago blues singer Otis Clay. Maestro Alan Balter, conductor for the Memphis Symphony, heard her sing at the Peabody hotel in 1990 and Cobb has since been invited to perform with the symphony on numerous occasions.
Cobb’s 1990-92 stint with Waylo Records launched her in the British charts for over twelve weeks with her single “Another Lonely Night”, which she both wrote and performed. In April 1992, JOYCE COBB’S on Beale Street opened to rave reviews, with Cobb being the first female to have a nightclub named in her honor. Ms. Cobb has recently produced and recorded her own tape titled “Jazzin’ on Beale” and participated with numerous other local and national talents on the project to raise funds for the National Civil Rights Museum by recording “March On”.
Joyce has been voted “Best Female Singer” by the Memphis chapter of NARAS (National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences) on four different occasions, and named “Best Female Entertainer” by the Beale Street Merchants Association. The Memphis Flyer’s reader poll declared her group Joyce Cobb and Cool Heat as “the best band in Memphis” and Ms. Cobb was just recently honored with her own brass music note on the “Beale Street Walk of Fame.”
Joyce is presently a member of the University of Memphis faculty, teaching jazz vocals in the Commercial Jazz Department, and has recently entered the college/university circuit, both lecturing and performing jazz and blues. Cobb and her pianist, J.T. Paige, completed a European tour of Northwest Italy. There they lectured and performed at the University of Torino and Centro Jazz School, receiving rave reviews and standing ovations.
This past spring Cobb contributed her talents to the musical soundtrack of “Black Diamonds: The Story of Negro League Baseball” -- an innovative and successful exhibit from the University of Memphis that was presented at the Memphis Pink Palace Museum. Ms. Cobb is, or has been, a member of the Tennessee Film, Entertainment and Music Commission; March of Dimes; and the Memphis Music City Commission.