What better way to start the new year with a woman? Even better, a BELGIAN woman. I’m very happy, thrilled and extremely proud to have TRIXIE WHITLEY featured on my blog. Trixie is a 23-year-old girl, and daughter of American blues singer-songwriter and guitarist CHRIS WHITLEY. Do not be mistaken, she might look like a ceramic doll, but when this girl opens her mouth to sing, an old soul that has been hibernating in her body for a thousand years comes out, makes the hairs on your arms rise, your throat choke and your heart skip a beat.
If you are not familiar with this diamond in the rough, let me be so kind to introduce her to you.
Being the daughter of a famous and respected musician, Trixie was born and raised with music running through her veins. She started singing when she was only a toddler and as a teenager she learned how to play the keyboards and the drums. She spent her time living in Belgium and in New York, hanging most of her time around her father. She moved back to Belgium as an early teenager and by the time she was 17, she left Belgium to live in New York where she worked in bars and worked on her music. The first song I ever heard from Trixie was called UNDRESS YOUR NAME I think almost 4 years ago on Myspace. Remember Myspace people? I immediately was drawn to her voice. I could not believe that this raw, dark, heavy, smokey, soulfull, bluesy, voice came from Belgium and that she was still so young. How can somebody so young, vocalise a certain blues, a certain pain, and execute an overall very adult song, I wondered? Pretty soon I found out that the loss of her father made an everlasting impression, and is a constant inspiration in her music even until today.
Check out the live version of UNDRESS YOUR NAME she did not so long ago on Ghent Jazz.
Not very long after I heard that song for the first time, she performed on a local festival in Ostend, which of course I managed to miss out on. And then, things got silent again. She went back to live and record in Brooklyn and I forgot about her. Until around 2008 suddenly this ‘I’D RATHER GO BLIND‘ video turns up online and news spreads that she started working with DANIEL LANOIS, a much respected Canadian record producer and songwriter who worked with people like Bob Dylan, U2, Peter Gabriel, just to name a few and took Trixie under his wings. Daniel Lanois was also a friend of Trixie’s father.
In 2009 I found out that Trixie was part of Daniel Lanois’ new band called BLACK DUB and that she was doing some gigs in Belgium. I was doing this blog almost a year and half when I saw this live version of ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ and after being completely emotionally in shock, with goosebumps going through my body like somebody just hit a Chinese gong right into my ear by watching her performance, I just knèw I wanted to have her featured on my blog. I highly recommend you watch this video to the end.
This certain talent doesn’t come around quite often, and in all honesty this certain sound, this genuinely deep-rooted soul full, bluesy sound doesn’t come around at all in Belgium if you ask me. At the time she still had a personal profile on Facebook, and whenever I found out that she was in Belgium I dropped her a mail, but I always managed to miss out on meeting her. She was so kind to drop me a little mail back, to tell me that she just left Belgium to go record in Los Angeles and when she did perform in Belgium, the concerts were sold out so quickly I always missed the opportunity to see her live.
Until now. Again I found out that she was playing in Belgium and that her concerts were sold out. I decided for myself that in 2011, I réally wanted to have that Trixie Polaroid. So to add some power to that statement, I placed it on Facebook. I do that sometimes, it makes me believe that I will do exactly so just a little bit harder. Stupid, I know. Oh well. So I was enjoying my champagne & reefer state of mind like I said I would on New Years Eve when I suddenly received the lovely message from one my readers that he had a spare ticket and that I was invited to join him to the concert. That basically made my entire night.
So, two days ago, I grabbed my Polaroid camera and took a train from Ostend to Ghent to finally watch Trixie perform live for the very first time. Although my intentions were to hopefully go home with a Polaroid, the fact that the concert was in a theater and that I had no control over where I could stand or sit worried me a bit, and I decided that I just was going to enjoy the concert and see how things turned out. She came out on the theater stage and from time to time she was accompanied by a guitarist. She was very witty and told that she just got a shot of cortisone, because she had a severe bronchitis, and you could hear that she had a very nasty cough. She sat behind her piano and before she started she told the audience that she was going to give it her very best.
It was my very first Trixie concerts, so I can compare it only with online footage, but if this is how the woman sounds when she is not 100% then I sure missed out on quite an experience when she is. Sick or not, I really felt it was very very good. I was still SO amazed about the sound that comes out of the woman’s throat, it’s simply amazing. You could compare her voice with the smoothness of Joss Stone, the power of Aretha with the heaviness of Wu Tang’s Tekitha. But she is all that and more. She has her own sound and it is brilliant. Because she made me think of Tekitha sometimes, I started to imagine how she would sound on a more hip hop inspired record, and I was already going through possible artists who she could collab with. Yeah. My imagination runs wild sometimes. Can’t help it. At one point she even started to preach or spit out lyrics in a more poetic way in one of her songs, and thàt suddenly made me think of Ursula Rucker, because she did it with such a power. Simply unbelievable. There was this young girl from Belgium, behind the piano or on the guitar, sounding like a black soul queen nicely accompanied by hypnotizing bluesy guitar tunes. She talked a lot during her show, little chit chats, funny one liners about her being sick, but more importantly, that she was also signing some cd’s after the concert which made me very happy for obvious reasons.
I looked at my new partner in crime for the evening, and he said: “Waw, that’s gonna be an easy Polaroid hunt for you!”. He was almost slightly disappointed. I smiled and told him: “Trust me, you don’t want a long Polaroid hustle on a Tuesday night with the prospects of getting up early for work tomorrow, you really don’t.” I didn’t have any digital camera with me, nor did I have a disposable with me, but my friend had a blackberry, and I asked him if he could help me with the exhibits, if a Polaroid picture was an option. Trixie finished the concert with two extra songs, one song she wrote when her father was still alive and she wrote while he was in the room with her. She dedicated it to him and her mother, who was at the concert.
Check out this version of STRONG BLOOD
It’s amazing how she slowly builds up a song, with no hurry whatsoever, and her songs end in a powerful climax that always make you stand there a bit dizzy, wondering what just happened.
After the concert, we immediately left the venue and went straight for the booth where her cd’s were about to be sold. A huge crowd was standing in line to buy her cd. My friend asked me: “So what do we do now?” He sounded all excited. I told him: “Ow, now? We just wait. Like this, against a wall. Observe.” He was like: “Ow, that’s right, that’s something that goes with the job. Hanging and waiting.” again he was slightly disappointed, but I could see the excitement in his eyes, it was cool watching one of my readers going into the whole idea of my blog, just like me and Jules always do. I was standing against the wall, when my new partner in crime, took a quick look around the stairs where we were waiting when he said: “Yo Ouni, she’s there, she’s coming!!” So I walked up the stairs, and saw that she was talking to some fans, and very quickly other fans noticed she was around, and in matter of seconds a small dozen of people were surrounding her for an autograph. I was standing in a little corner when she noticed me and I asked if I could snap her picture. She was looking at my camera and said: “Waw, you still have one of those, that is so cool.” I asked her if I could take her picture, and when she confirmed I asked her if she could sit on the red velvet stairs. She did exactly so, her eyes still fixed on my camera and asked me where I still get my film. We talked a little bit about that and when I finally explained her my blog and the concept, something I always try to do with my artist, she nodded and remembered me contacting her before, and said: “Ow, so sorry, this didn’t work out any time sooner, but I remember your requests”. I told her it didn’t matter, that I was glad that I finally saw her performing live and that I’m happy that she is cool with me taking some snaps of her, considering she is sick. I asked her to give me two different expressions, aimed my camera and
We waited together for the pictures to come through
I was so happy that I had her on Polaroid I wanted to thank her with an extra picture for herself, like a souvenir and I suggested if she wanted to have one, we definitely could take a new one. Which she did. By the time that picture came out, her mother (I think) came to get her, telling her: “Trixie, come on now, you really have to go now, all these people are waiting for you to sign autographs!” I almost felt guilty keeping her up for so long, so I thanked her a million times and she asked me to put the pictures online, so she could check them out some time, thanked me for her Polaroid and left. And that was that. My very first Polaroid story for 2011. A short one. True. A simple one. True. An ‘easy’ one. True. But don’t underestimate the importance of this story. This girl is a huge star in the making. Ghent must be very proud with such a soul star in their midst.
And dear internationals, if éver you have the chance to see Trixie perform live, something that is very likely to happen, don’t hesitate, just go and check her out. For every penny you get a million goosebumps in return. Check all things Trixie here and here and start anticipating her first upcoming solo album somewhere in 2011.
PS: Very special thanks to RiderOnTheStorm. Thank you for reading my stories, and thank you for being so kind to invite me for this concert. I couldn’t imagine a better take off for 2011. And your assistant skills rock homie.