January 31st | Posted by: NMJ
When Willie Mae Thornton left home to tour the Southern States of the USA as a singer in the Hot Harlem Revue in 1941 she was just 14. Just like Big Joe Turner, who’d started his career only a couple of years before (ABON 0138), she could shout the Blues louder than most of her rivals, who were twice her age. And also like Big Joe Turner, even as a teenager, she had the physique to gain access to the bars, clubs and theatres of the South years before she should legally have been allowed to.
By the beginning of the 1950s, although she was still only 24, she had already been on the stage for 10 years and plain Willie Mae had blossomed into Big Mama Thornton. At 20 stone and with a voice that had become even more ferocious over the years, she was an imposing and slightly intimidating figure.