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Beth McKee has lived through the South from Mississippi to New Orleans, through Florida and Texas, and has known both the joys and hard times that are necessary to create great music. She brings her full-hearted voice to her latest release “Next To Nowhere,” an all-original collection of songs carved from the struggles of real life.
The theme of the album is personal- about returning to a dream and about having the gumption to try again even though the odds are long. Beth was a member of the popular New Orleans band Evangeline who released two albums on the MCA Nashville label and was on the verge of major success. When the group disbanded Beth was disheartened and wondered if there was a place for her in an ever changing music industry, especially one where her musical style didn’t fit clearly into just one category.
Some fires refuse to be extinguished. Her husband and drummer Juan Perez was a big part of the journey. “It took me awhile to start thinking about getting ‘out there’ again. Juan had been pleading with me to record, so when I finally said ‘let’s do it’ he was thrilled– that’s when we recorded ‘I’m That Way.‘ It had more impact than we anticipated– so, we hit the road.”
Her 2010 release “I’m That Way” breathed her fire into the works of Chess Record’s Louisiana legend Bobby Charles, and set the stage for her follow up release “Next To Nowhere,” which showcases her sound in all its power with all-new original tracks. “Recording Bobby’s songs was a great study in songwriting and I learned a lot from it and from him. When producer Tony Battaglia asked to work with me on my next project I sent him a few original tunes and a few ideas for covers. His response was “Why pay somebody else for songs? You’re a great songwriter, write your own!’ So I did, with help from Juan & a few friends. Tommy Malone (of The subdudes) co-wrote ‘Already Mine’, Tony co-wrote ‘Return to Me’ and a few other folks, too.”
Beth McKee has lived through and triumphed over the trials of life, and sings of it all to her audience in a shared but newly-discovered language. Accented by the sounds of the South; blues, Zydeco, soulful R&B and the swamp, her voice reaches audiences from all backgrounds and times, yet always in the same places in the soul.
“I am sincere and my music is heartfelt. Front porch, back porch, down home. I’m not fancy, just honest.”
With the release of “Next To Nowhere,” the wisdom of McKee’s producer’s advice to follow her own path shines, with songs that reflect every step of the journey, and she performs a true act of alchemy: applying the fire of artistry to the base materials of pain, hard work, and regrets to create eleven tracks of new gold. “Next To Nowhere” speaks a universal message of triumph over difficult times. That’s a message that — no matter who we are or where we come from – we need to hear.
Beth is currently touring and writing for her next recording project. She is also at the helm of a group of over 2,000 women who answer to the moniker “Swamp Sistas” and host gatherings called La Las all over the south. The Swamp Sista La Las are celebrations of regional music, food and culture and raise awareness and money for community issues and organizations that are important to the group.
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“Honky Tonk piano worthy of some Jerry Lee Lewis arson.”
– L.A. Weekly (live review)
“The show is stolen however, by Beth McKee, in a class with a young Bonnie Raitt.”
- Nashville Scene (live review)
“McKee’s vibrant vocals do Charles proud… McKee pulls it off magnificently…spine tingling.”
– John Conquest, Third Coast Music
“The only sub that matters here is the underlying growl that marks these performances—blasting saxes, slashing and sliding guitars, burbling organ and piano (McKee leading the way on the latter) and earthy beats (from hubby/co-producer Juan Perez) all keyed to McKee’s naturally lusty vocals.” – Steve Hochman, Offbeat
“McKee’s voice is an amazing thing. She sounds like the woman of your dreams, a lady who has lived life from a lot of angles and kept a purity of feeling that comes across in everything she does.”
- Bill Bentley, SonicBoomers.com