‘The Duchess’ Jureesa McBride – My Time to Shine
10 songs – 41 minutes
When you grow up in Mississippi, your birthright is the blues, and full-throated Vicksburg-based vocalist Jureesa McBride – aka “The Duchess” – is poised to claim her fair share with this sensational CD, a powerhouse effort that was produced and arranged by Grammy-winner Paul Nelson.
A small-town country girl who was raised in Port Gibson, halfway between Vicksburg and Natchez on Hwy. 61, Jureesa grew up listening to a roux of blues, R&B and gospel. A songwriter since childhood, she composed her first tune – about her dog Spikey – at age nine before performing at the Mississippi Cultural Crossroads Center and as a member of the Peanut Butter Jelly Theater.
Possessing a polished, strong mid-range voice, she counts Koko Taylor as her biggest influence and draws other inspiration from Denise LaSalle and Dorothy Moore and Latimore, Bobby Rush, Bobby “Blue” Bland and Elmore James, too. Now 41, the Duchess has been singing in earnest since 2011, when she entered the four-week Face the Music Tournament, an event sponsored by V-World Entertainment in Jackson, and taking home top prize in the competition.
A published author and radio personality who’s earned masters degrees in music business and education, her recording debut came a year later with the singles “Let Me Be Your Super Mistress” and “Put Your Cookies in My Milk,” the latter of which earned her a Jus’ Blues Foundation nomination for best new artist of the year. In the years since, she’s released two EPs – I’m a Woman First (The Tales of The Duchess) in 2013 and Personal Love Vendetta in 2015 – and several more singles, which were compiled on another release, The Soul of a Southern Girl, last year.
The producer responsible for Johnny Winter’s Grammy-winning 2014 CD, Step Back, Paul Nelson’s one of the most respected guitarists on the planet, is supervising this set, which was mixed and mastered by Buzz Pickens at Hummingbird Studios in Vicksburg. Pickens also handles keyboard duties throughout in a lineup that also includes Calvin Johnson and Kimble Slaton on bass and Tommie Green on drums.
“My Time to Shine,” which opens, is a simmering, autobiographical soul-blues pleaser in which Jureesa announces she’s a patient lady but ready for more. A contemporary number with traditional appeal, the arrangement puts the spotlight on her pipes. The backing unit cooks steadily underneath throughout other than a mid-tune guitar solo. It gives way to the stop-time “Tom Thumb,” which describes a man who lives in a “big ol’ house on a big ol’ hill, a big ol’ truck with a motor with his motor for the thrill.” Unfortunately, though, when it comes to lovemaking, he simply doesn’t measure up.
The Duchess alters the lyrics and pays tribute to Elmore James by putting a female spin on his best-known number, “Dust My Broom,” before haunting slide runs open the ballad, “Don’t Mind the Rain,” a treatise that elevates the stature of the Black man by stating that, despite all the pain he endures, the sun still shines in his eyes and he’s a king on a throne who shouldn’t be denied. She honors Koko by covering “I’m a Woman” to follow before launching in on “I Choose Me,” a medium-fast shuffle in which she heaps love upon herself.
Another ballad, “I Just Wanna Wake Up,” continues the message forward as it wonders why so many other folks suffer and live in frustration because they don’t appreciate themselves the way they should. Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle,” a monster hit for Koko, follows before the languorous “Don’t Love Me Now” announces her impending departure from a bad romance and the funkified “Good Loving Blues” brings the set to a close.
One listen to this one and you’ll agree: The Duchess’ time has come. Look for My Time to Shine to be a strong entry in “best new artist” voting down the line. It’s definitely a worthy entry.