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Michigan Heritage Awards

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Photo by Don McGhee,
courtesy of R.J. Spangler

Alberta Adams
2010 awardee, Detroit (Wayne County), blues

Alberta Adams is known in Detroit and nationwide as the Queen of Detroit blues. Alberta was born Roberta Louise Osborne in Indianapolis in 1917. She began performing as a dancer at an early age and, when the vocalist at the Club B and C in Detroit fell ill, she stepped in as a singer. By 1945 she was performing on tours with such well-known national artists as Duke Ellington, T-Bone Walker, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson and, when in Detroit she worked with Big Joe Turner and Wynonie Harris. In the 1960s Adams made Detroit her home and appeared regularly in local nightclubs. When she and the Detroit Blues Review performed with guitarist and vocalist Johnnie Bassett at the 1994 Montreux/Detroit Jazz Festival, her work garnered renewed interest. She went on more tours in the U.S. and recorded the 1997 album Blues Across America: The Detroit Scene. In Michigan, she has also performed at the National Folk Festival, Festival of Michigan Folklife, and Great Lakes Folk Festival in East Lansing, Michigan. Adams has five CD releases and her Detroit is My Home was recognized with a Detroit Music Award for outstanding blues/R & B recording in 2009. The Detroit Blues Society honored Alberta with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

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