EG Kight is one of the most precious folks that I have met in the Blues world. Always generous with her time, smiles and words spoken out of friendship to me as well as others. When I first heard her voice I sat bolt upright and had to run to the radio to see who that was. To see her perform in concert is a thing of beauty, she warms the stage with her home spun style and music.
She has worked with Goerge Jones, Conway Twitty, Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop Perkins and many more outstanding musicians.
Funny, insightful, self-effacing and very talented, I know you will enjoy this conversation we had just the other day.
She can be found on the web at http://www.egkight.com/
Blues411: How and when did you acquire the moniker ‘The Georgia Songbird’ – what does it mean to you to be considered as such?
EG Kight: I’ve been known as the Georgia Songbird for probably over 30 years now. It actually started as a CB handle and kind of stuck. Most of my friends call me Bird. I was referred to as the Georgia Songbird on national tv in the 80’s and 90’s so most everybody knows who that is. It’s a good feeling to be a sort of representative of my state and music!
B411: The history of nicknames has always fascinated to me. Yet well known as you are for your voice, you are also a tremendous songwriter. Personally, I have always felt a strong tie to your lyrics. You cover a wide scope of subjects and feelings – do you have a process for songwriting – do you start with a lyric, a melody – piano????
EG: Songs come to me from everywhere. I usually think of a good hook line when I’m out walking near my home. I use my guitar to find the melodies. Sometimes the melodies come to me the same time as the lyrics. To me those are my strongest songs. They’re like a gift just handed down to me. It’s awesome when that happens.
B411: Who are some artists who have performed your songs?
EG: Koko Taylor, Dorothy Moore, Reba Russell, Lisa Biales, Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women, Shakura S’Aida, Ann Rabson and Bob Margolin, and jazz artist Jaimee Paul. And there are several more regional artists who’ve recorded or performed some of my songs.
B411: How do you react when other folks do your songs? I am sure it is good, but do they ‘get it’, is their spin on it perfectly acceptable to you?
E.G.: Everyone feels songs their own way and I always tell them to make it their own. I get so excited when I hear another artist singing one of my songs putting their own spin to it. It’s a natural high.
When Dorothy Moore sang one of my songs, “Let The Healing Begin” at the Blues Music Awards, I got tears in my eyes. She nailed it and it made my night. It was wonderful.
B411: That was a wondeful moment for all of us. I loved Ms. Moore’s version on her release ‘Blues Heart’ and her performing it live that night was, indeed, wonderful.
E.G.: I won’t ever forget driving through Atlanta one afternoon when Koko Taylor called and sang one of my songs to me over the phone. She wanted to know if it sounded okay. I was so excited that I almost had a wreck! I said, “Don’t you know that you could sing ‘my dog has fleas’ and I’d love it?!”
Koko also sang with me on one of my original songs on one of my albums. That was a lot of fun! And that song and that album will always be even more special to me because of her. I sure do miss her…
B411: It is safe to say, we all miss Koko. That’s a great event and memory to have, that is very, very special.
I usually don’t ask this question but – what kind of guitar do you play. There is such amazing tone and it seems to be locked into your vocal range and sound that it must be made just for you?
EG: When performing solo or duo, I play a Taylor 712ce acoustic. In fact, Taylor provides my guitars. I have a Taylor solid body electric that is really nice too that I play sometimes. I’ve played Fender Strats for most of my career, so I usually have my red sparkle strat close by when I have a band show. I also love the tone of the old Fender amps. I use a 1965 Fender Deluxe Reverb on my band shows.
B411: Besides singer/songwriter and stellar guitarist – you are also a well recognized photographic artist. How did you get into that, has it always been another passion for you or did you acquire it by being on the road as often as you are?
EG: I’ve always loved taking pictures. In fact I took most of the photos for one of my high school yearbooks. Since digital photography came to be, I’ve really gotten more into it. I still have a lot to learn and I’m eager to learn more about it. It’s almost as exciting to me as my music. I just love it! And I was honored to place in the top three in a recent contest for a new hospital. So one of my photos of one of my goats is now hanging in a hospital in middle Georgia. I hope it brings comfort to those who see it.
B411: Very cool, I love seeing photos of your goats and such, they always bring a smile to me when I see them on Facebook.
It’s good to know tht those things we did in high school are actually still with some of us, and are useful. Well you should get together with Leslie she just got a new Canon and it uploads to the web also. She just started using it last week, they are so amazing these days. So you always take your camera with you when you travel for gigs?
EG: I always have a camera nearby. I’ve taken many pictures on the road. You just never know what you’ll run into traveling. There are some amazing things that are just waiting for a picture down the road.
B411: Is there something new to look forward to from you in the near future that you can share with us?
EG: I’ve produced two albums for Lisa Biales, who is a great singer from Ohio. We just finished her second one and it will be coming out in March. She and I also just debuted our new duo, “The Peach Pickin’ Mamas”. We have a ball singing together, so we decided to start doing it on the road. We just did some shows in Austin last week, and we got a standing ovation. I’m also writing new songs for my next album. I have about four songs done already and am looking to release my new album in 2014.
B411: Well I am really looking forward to hearing your new stuff.
Yes, I have been introduced to Ms. Biales through you and Bill Wax. Tell us about how you two hooked up in the first place?
EG: Lisa and her husband Marc first heard me on the Blues Cruise several years ago. She emailed me after the cruise and asked about me coming to play a house concert for them. So a few months later I put a mini Ohio tour together and went and performed for them.
She and Marc have a beautiful house just made for concerts, called the Big Song Music House. I invited her to come up on stage and sing with me and it was pure magic. The next day she was telling me how she needed help with her recordings, and she felt like she was losing her enthusiasm with the music business. So I suggested that she needed a producer. When I got home, she emailed and asked me to produce her next album. I had produced my own records, and hadn’t worked with other artists at that point, so I had to think about it. Then I talked her into coming to Macon, Georgia and I got Paul Horsnby to help with the project. Paul’s had success with Charlie Daniels, Marshall Tucker and numerous others, and I’ve learned a lot from him over the years. So I thought it would be good for us to co-produce her record.
Like I said earlier, we just got through with Lisa’s second project and it will be out in March. The first album, “Just Like Honey” went to #1 on the Roots Chart and it landed in the top 10 on Bluesville and several other stations. Her music is really getting around.
And she and I debuted our “Peach Pickin’ Mama’s” show last week in Austin and we had a ball! I can’t wait to see where this duo takes us.
B411: She is an incredible artist also, and the sound and vibe that you two create is something to behold. I hope that you two get out more and play around the country more. Hear that festival and club owners!
EG: Thanks! We’d love to!
B411: Is there a song you have not covered that you have always wanted to do but for some reason or another never quite got to putting it on a release?
EG: I love the older Etta James songs. And songs like “Please Send Me Someone to Love” is right up my alley. I always try to put one cover song on all my albums, a song that’s been special to me. I never know which one will land on my next album, so you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out!
B411: Even more reason to look forward to the next release. Just Where did the Blues find you?
EG: In the 1990’s I was at a crossroads, performing mostly country music with a little mix of pop. The genre was going in a direction that I didn’t care for and couldn’t feel any more. I had already been turned on to Bonnie Raitt and Phoebe Snow, whom I loved, and then when I heard the soulful voice of Koko Taylor, I was hooked. I started singing some of her songs in my country shows and they became more popular with my fans than what I’d been singing for years. So I jumped the fence and started really getting into the blues and have never looked back. Blues has given me a freedom with my writing that I never had in other genres. It’s so much fun to write and it provides a new way to express what real life is about. You don’t have to hold back in Blues. You can just tell it like it is. It’s the real deal. It’s how we live every day.
B411: Very true, it is the story of our lives, individually and collectively.
Ok the one question everyone wants to know – what does EG stand for?
EG: I was named after my daddy, Eugene. I’m Eugenia Gail. Everyone around my hometown still calls me Gail which is fine with me. I’ll answer to either one!
B411: Thank you for answering that, one never knows the specifics or reasons behind some names and it had always intrigued me.
So you will be appearing at the Savannah Jazz Fest this coming Thursday September 26 in Forsyth Park – I am trying my best to churn the waters so that bunches of folks come out to enjoy your special talent. Plus it’s a free concert.
EG: I really appreciate that! Every little bit helps! I’m especially excited about the three festivals I’ve got coming up because my incredible band will be with me. I do a lot of solo shows, but it’s always great to be on stage with these guys – Gary Porter, Johnny Fountain, Ken Wynn and Mike Harrell. I’ve known all of them for decades, and they’re as close as brothers to me. I love them all, and I hope the fans can tell that, from the way we play together. Our music is tight, and magical. And I love to show them off to everyone, so I hope we see lots of folks out there!
B411: I think you will be surprised at the turnout, positively so.
Last time I saw you, you jammed with Watermelon Slim, who is also appearing there, that was such fun.
EG: I recently saw Slim at the Cincinnati Blues Festival and we had a chance to chat and catch up with each other a bit. We even talked about doing some shows together. You never know what a Watermelon and a Songbird may do!
B411: Having seen it once I can certainly do with some more of that special kind of concoction! See you there and looing forward to new music from you very soon.
EG: You’ve got a hug waiting for you. Thanks so much Jimi!
B411: I will surely collect it EG, thanks.
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
Where Blues Thrive
Photos: Leslie K. Joseph (as noted), courtesy of artist.