Opera diva, actress, blues belter—Valerie Wellington tackled all three roles successfully while still in her 20s. After three years of studying the classics at the American Conservatory of Music, Valerie burst onto the Chicago blues scene, unleashing her roof-raising pipes on the blues scene in the summer of 1982 and snaring the role of Ma Rainey in a local stage play. Her rise was nothing short of meteoric, boosted by her 1984 Rooster debut album, Million Dollar Secret
. A pair of very popular television commercials for the Chicago Tribune
, aired on national superstation WGN-TV, plus a concert broadcast on National Public Radio, introduced this powerhouse singer to a nationwide audience.
Wellington’s full-bodied sound combined the influence of contemporary singers like Ray Charles and Koko Taylor with the classic styles of Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. In fact, she was one of the few younger blues women to regularly feature songs from the 1920s in her dynamic live show.
Valerie showed the promise of becoming a true blues superstar, but the blues world was sadly robbed of her talent when she died of a brain aneurysm at the age of 33, in 1992.
1984 Million Dollar Secret (Rooster Blues)
1987 The New Bluebloods (Alligator)
1991 Life In The Big City (GBW)