Already enjoying success in Europe, Grammy nominee Eric Bibb is becoming a familiar face – and voice – in the U.S. Nominated for nine W.C. Handy Blues Music Awards and winner of the Best Newcomer title in the British Blues Awards, Bibb has been appropriately described as “discreetly awesome” and “a total original.” As his popularity escalates, earlier comparisons to legendary greats Ry Cooder andTaj Mahal are being replaced by quotes that speak to Bibb’s ability to “use standard blues ingredients to cook up something all his own.”
Bibb is a native New Yorker with deep roots in the American blues and folk tradition. The son of 1960s folk and musical theater singer and television personality Leon Bibb, Eric’s uncle was the jazz pianist and composer John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet, and Paul Robeson was his godfather. As a boy, he was surrounded by major musical figures of the times. By age 19 he was playing in Parisian restaurants, and has been based primarily in Europe ever since.
A breakout performance at the 1996 London Blues Festival catapulted Eric to a higher level of visibility, especially in Britain. Since then he has toured the world, performing at major festivals like The Glastonbury Cambridge Folk Festival, The Barbican American Festival, The Guinness Blues Festival, Midfytns Festival in Denmark, Cognac Blues Festival in France, Byron Bay & Port Fairey in Australia, WOMEX in Sweden, Vancouver, Edmonton & Calgary Folk Festivals in Canada, Montreal Jazz Festival, Seattle’s Earshot Jazz Festival, Chicago World Music Festival and San Francisco Jazz. He joined Robert Cray on U.S. tours in 2001 and 2002 and opened shows for Ray Charles.
As a recording artist, Eric earned a Grammy nomination for his collaboration (with Taj Mahal and others) on the children’s record, Shakin’ A Tailfeather. And Painting Signs was recognized by “New Age Voice as a Finalist for Best Folk Album of 2001. He joined Maria Muldaur and Rory Block to record the gospel-flavored Sisters & Brothers, and then released Friends, a collection of duets with Taj Mahal, Odetta, and others. Recent recordings on Telarc include A Ship Called Love and Diamond Days.
Bibb’s rich and sensitive vocals and lyrics provide a perfect balance to his fine finger picking technique. Purveying a beautifully realized and deftly accomplished soulful folk-blues, Bibb has no problem blending various genres effortlessly, melding a traditional rootsy American style with a subtle, contemporary sensibility.
Bibb’s songwriting and performance talents have also caught the attention of fellow musicians and others in the music industry. He joined Robert Cray on two U.S. tour stints in 2001 and 2002 and opened two shows for Ray Charles in the summer of 2002. John Mayall recorded “World War Blues” from Bibb’s Home To MeCD and “Kokomo” from Painting Signs and Bibb’s song “For You” aired on the successful CBS television program, The District. His rendition of “I Heard the Angels Singin’” was featured in the Canadian movie, The Burial Society, soon to be released in the U.S. He garnered W. C. Handy nominations for his albums Spirit And The Blues and Home To Me, and a “Best Acoustic Blues Song of the Year” nomination for “Kokomo” from his 2001 Painting Signs album as well as a “Best Acoustic Blues Artist of the Year” Handy nomination.Painting Signs was also recognized by New Age Voice as a Finalist for “Best Folk Album of 2001”. For his collaboration on the children’s record, Shakin’ A Tailfeather, he earned a Grammy nomination. In England, his songs have been featured on television shows including BBC TV’s “Eastenders” and “Casualty” and he performed his original composition, “All That You Are”, on Jools Holland’s platinum-selling album Small World, Big Band.
A performance by Eric Bibb is an enriching experience — both musically and spiritually. His music, like his personality, is intimate, assured and passionate, drawing listeners into the moment more as participants than spectators. In the words of “House of Blues Radio Hour” host Elwood Blues, “You are what the blues in the new century should be about.”