Livin the Bluz
Ruff Pro Records (April 2010)
Livin’ the Bluz (Ruff Pro Records 2010) by DieDra Hurdle, better known simply as DieDra, is the second solo recording by this talented Alabama blues singer and it’s a winner. The ten-track CD is a lively mix of dance tunes, swingin’ blues and vocals you’d expect to hear from a singer at a national level.
DieDra and partner Keithen Ruff are pretty much the whole creative team on this project. She tells me that most tunes start with a “sound” from Keith and then typically she writes a lyric to it. On Livin’ the Bluz, she penned lyrics for eight of the tracks, with Keith writing “He’s Alright” and “Don’t Wait Too Long.” As for the studio, Keith played guitar, keyboard, horns, drums and bass guitar on the album.
Right from track one, “Dance the Night Away,” you know this is dance blues, so get ready to shag, bop and boogie the night away.
Track four is “You Do Me Wrong,” which was also included on Deep Fried Southern Style, the 2010 compilation on the Shanty’s Records label. Another hip swivelin’ tune.
“Left You Behind” at 5:04 is the longest track on the recording, and it’s one of my faves. Featuring gutsy guitar riffs from Keithen and DieDra’s emotionally charged vocals, it’s prime for dancing in the dark.
“Fantasy” delivers more sultry vocals and raw, plaintive guitar work. A sexy slow dance.
“Anybody Seen My Man” is blues with a sense of humor. DeiDra wrote me about it, “My favorite on the CD is “Anybody Seen My Man”.. It was fun. So that concept to me, is so fun when I’m performing it on stage… When I ask.. “Has anybody seen my man”… People will point to Keith.
“My next favorite is “Lovin on the Edge of Hate”.. I wrote that song as I look at tough times in relationships. You can love someone and in the same breath – hate them … It’s about the ups and downs of love … Sometimes it makes you feel good and other times it makes you feel bad … but … you still love.”
DieDra and Keithen have been partnering, both in life and the studio, since 2007, but their first contact was back in the late nineties. The two were both assigned to Polygram/ Boogiedown Productions. She was an R&B artist and he was her producer. Ironically, they conducted business over the phone and never met during this period. They lost touch until 2007, when after a monster seven-hour phone call, they decided to meet and begin dating.
DieDra adds, “Keith was on the road with Bobby Rush at that time. He had been with him for 15 years. Keith produced Bobby’s hits “Booga-Bear” and his newest CD, Look At Whatcha Gettin’. I knew nothing about the blues. He took me on the road with him. I was able to open for Bobby several times and get a feel for the scene.”
Shortly after, they married, she moved to Alabama, signed with his Ruff Pro Records and her debut album Overcoming Hurdles was produced in about a month.
The standout track from the recording was “Hip Swingin’’ Blues,” which has brought her kudos from all over the industry. It ended 2010 at No. 4 on the R&B Dee Jays Top 50 chart, and No. 5 on the Beach Music 45 Smokin’ 45 for 2010. “Hip Swingin’ Blues” was also nominated for the 2009 JUS Blues Southern Soul Song of the Year-Female. In addition, JUS Blues honored DieDra with a 2010 nomination for Best Southern Soul Artist.
Livin’ The Bluz is also earning raves. DieDra was the winner of The 2010 Blue Note Award (Association of Rhythm and Blues DJ’s). In the shag market, she was also nominated for four 2010 CBMA awards: Blues Album of the Year (Livin’ The Bluz), Solo Album of the Year (Livin’ The Bluz), Song of the Year (“Hip Swingin’ Blues”) and New Artist of the Year.
When she’s not recording or singing in church, DeiDra is usually donating her time to working with kids.
“Keith and I both work for the Alabama Blues Project, which is designed to keep the blues alive by teaching it to kids, in an after-school program in Tusalossa, Alabama,” she explains. “We drive there once a week – an hour away from home. Keith teaches guitar and I teach vocal. There’s a blues camp in the summer for one week each year. We stay in Tuscaloosa the whole week and teach the kids from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
DieDra Hurdle is a four-foot-something bundle of talent. You can keep up with what she’s doing on Facebook (DieDra Dionne Tucker). Her CDs are available online at CDBaby.com and SouthernSoul.com. If you get the chance to see her live with the Ruff Pro Band, jump at the chance. She’s a rockin’ blues mama!