When Marcy Rae went to a blues festival in Crosby, Texas, in 1992, she had no idea that she would return as Sweet Mama Cotton. But there was little doubt that she would be playing and singing the blues. Marcy, born and raised in the chilly outpost of Fargo, North Dakota, has spent her musical career preparing to play the blues. Her many years of piano training and performing in bands from California to Israel brought her to Texas, home of some of the hottest blues in the world.
Marcy’s musical interests are diverse, but all these influences have combined to produce a musical approach that is inclusive of all forms of music. Her blues repertoire includes standards such as “Stormy Monday” and “Down Home Blues”, as well as classics from the jazz/blues era of Bessie Smith and Sippie Wallace. She also rocks out on Chuck Berry style tunes and some funky dance tunes like “Shaky Ground”. Her diverse background has expanded her repertoire to include classic standards, folk, rock, and country music as well as blues.
And mixed in with the wide variety of cover material is a healthy dose of original music. Marcy’s originals also cover a variety of styles, including “Cloudy Texas Skies”, a Stevie Ray Vaughn-type song; “Voodoo Daddy”, a rockin’ celebration of romance; and “Down to Memphis”, a rockabilly style ode to a blues mecca.
Ms. Rae has had the privilege of working with a number of well-known and interesting musical groups. She sang with the University of Michigan Choral Union, a 300-voice choir that performed with the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra. Since her professional debut as a musician, she has played on bills with Ray Campi and the Rebels, Jackson Browne, The Blasters, Blood Sweat and Tears, and Rose Maddox. She also spent some time as keyboard player for The Drifters on a tour through the South.
While living in Houston, Marcy has shared the stage with many of the Blues Legends of Texas, including Pete Mayes, Texas Johnny Brown, Trudy Lynn, Lavelle White, Jimmy “T-99” Nelson, Oscar Perry, Clarence Holliman, Carol Fran, Earl Gilliam, Grady Gaines, Trudy Lynn, Carolyn Blanchard, and Mark May. She has also been invited to perform with Bob Margolin and Pinetop Perkins on several occasions, and at the all-star jam band at the W.C. Handy Awards.
Whether as a solo artist on keyboards and vocals or with the awesome Sugar Daddies, her blues band, Marcy Rae, aka Sweet Mama Cotton, presents a confident statement of affirming blues. As her “motto” states, Marcy plays “new Texas blues with respect for tradition”.