Suze Sims of the Red Hot Blues Sisters.
an interview excerpt By Roy Brown
Sometimes you know a person is more than good, more than talented and set apart from the cream of the crop. I saw Suze Sims perform at Waterfront Blues, it was a jaw dropping experience. I didn’t know it then, but after seeing her locally too, I knew I had to visit with her. I would like to share the conversation.
RB: Musicians often have different paths to finding their talent. How did you find yours?
SS: I started in clubs, back east; as a stage technician. I just had to go to live shows. That’s how it got started. I had no idea I was going to sing. I was in a car wreck a while back, and spent 5 years recovering; on a couch for 18 months before I could go back to work. I couldn’t drive; there were lots of anxiety attacks. 2 years after friends took me out. I was a darts tournament that had to Karaoke. I sang Tina Turner, Private Dancer and Led Zeppelin, and was hired on the spot to host. It was a happy accident. Soon musicians coming into my Karaoke place asked me to sing with them. I figured I had training singing the entire Karaoke book. Eventually I started at live shows. So I backed into music. I was doing info systems. Now I want to sing and play. That's It!
RB: When into that process did you realize that you were a good singer, maybe a great one? How did that happen?
SS: It was when I started singing in a back up roll I felt that I had a talent. To be able to compliment another artist brought the desire for original music and writing. I began to write songs and later collaborate. Being hired was a convincing moment for the existence of talent. I still check myself to make out the song’s chemistry then I sing.
RB: Tell me all about Suze Sims.
SS: I’m with The Red Hot Blues Sisters and the Blues Buskers’ drummer . l and am currently the Music Director for the Washington Blues Society; for which I produce 14 annual events. I’m from New York City. Harlem dad; Brooklyn mom. I grew up with a lot of art and music. I didn’t know I wanted to play music. I did a lot of theater; moved on to nightclubs stage tech and concert production and community theaters. I finally finished college 2006. Completing a degree in audio engineering, performance, I have several IT Systems and Audio certificates.
I worked at the Seattle Art Institute, Seattle Art Museum, and several Seattle radio stations. Great jobs!
RB: Musically, before Red Hotz, what have you done?
SS: I’ve also done wedding gigs other bands and casuals or guest vocalist, a lot of recorded and live back vocals. I worked with David Keys a pianist with a jazz magazine and Dean Schmidt and Aaron Henning. I worked in Jim Basnight Band, Whiplash, Ruby Tuesday, and co-billed Mavis Staples Melissa Etheridge Shemekia Copeland Phoebe Snow Walter Trout Joan Armatrading Curtis Salgado Elvin Bishop
Rita Chiarelli Bernard Alison Canned Heat Duffy Bishop. I have also produced concerts, worked large festivals.
RB: It sounds like you are not really concerned about the particular style of a song, but aren’t you primarily doing R&B and Blues?
SS: ...I’m really into the song and what it does. We start a song that sounds like its New Orleans second line and turns to a rumba swing ...This is the 11th year with T. Wilson, the co founder of Red Hot Blues Sisters whose songs are driven by soul stirring blues vocals, great songwriting and guitars, and fantastic energy.
RB: Where do you see yourself going from here? Do you want to be a singer when you grow up, or an engineer?
SS: I see myself as a recording touring performer and philanthropist. I love playing other towns you might work or collaboration with new musicians. As far as the audio engineering, that’s the roll of my production company Cherub Productions or Peace Code Records. I want to produce artists’, and in a studio of my own too. A lot of artists struggle; however, particularly in the NW area women tend to be on other peoples albums and don’t have their own product. This is where the engineering integrates with the rest of my career.
RB: Ya know Suze, I just don’t understand the draw of the vagabond life of the road. How do you feel about the road?
SS: I read magazines and hear Santana tours for 2 months with a month off for sanity reasons as well as family. ...I have toured 8 countries now and would not trade it for the anything. When they say go, I would not have it any other way. 70 dates per year and I want 150. PUT ME ON THE BUS LETS GO! There are things you must do to make the road easier. Always leave the hotel and see the town.
RB: Are there any final words you would like to convey to your fans?
SS: This band formed November of 2004. I just can’t believe the response in that short timeframe. I am sincerely amazed and thankful. I’m so grateful we have that appeal and have been lucky enough to be asked back and win awards. That’s an opportunity the fans give me that I take very seriously. They allow me to keep doing what I love, that speaks to my heart.
I had no idea I was going to be singing. I thought I was to be a technician in some dark theater. Thank you all so much for coming out to our shows supporting the record and touring.
RB: As I’m sure you know, Suze Sims is one of the finest performers we are blessed to have in the Puget Sound Region. I’ve been looking for along time for an artist that someday, I can say, “I knew her when…” After listening and talking to her, I think that just happened. To learn more about Suze or the Red Hot Blues Sisters, try Facebook or this website http://www.peacecoderecords.com/Red_Hot_Blues_Sisters.html.
Suze, I’m hoping for tickets on opening night at Carnage Hall. if you are in the money, air fare to New York would be nice. Please make them first class, just like you.