I came from a long line of strong female vocalists. My Grandmother, a former Sunday school teacher put me in the mind of Bessie Smith. My mother and aunts put me in the mind of such artists as Aretha Franklin, Patti Labelle and gospel singers Mahalia Jackson and Shirley Cesar. My Grandpa, Walter (Preach) Sullivan put me in the mind of Muddy Waters. I began singing gospel as early as I can remember.
I remember as a little girl in the 60's (when they still had old hardwood floors in the churches) listening to the old folks keeping rhythm by patting their feet on the old hardwood floors sometimes accompanied by a piano and sometimes just those glorious acappella voices ringing those old gospel songs. At the age of 10 along with my sisters and cousins, I joined the children's choir. They used to say we sang like little women.
I remember my Aunt Mattie telling me "Linda, don't stand up there trying to look pretty, get into it, tell the story, sometimes you gotta get ugly with it." From that day to this, I love to give it all I got. In the past three years of perusing my career in singing the blues, it has been a beautiful and unforgettable ride. It has taken me to California, all the way to Paris, France. I have performed with artists such as Eddy Kirkland, Big Bill Morganfield, Sunny Rhodes, Little Pink Anderson, Cootie Starks, Elmore James Jr, opened for B.B. King, and many others.
In the late 60's we were what I considered the last of the dinosaurs as you see. Even though we were too little to do so, we still were with my grandmother in the cotton fields picking cotton. I remember thinking somebody please rescue us. This was a new day, a time of empowerment... you know, black power and all that stuff. But now as I look back I wouldn't take anything in the world for that experience of my early childhood, because now, when I get up to sing, I deliver through those songs the feelings of what I heard and what I saw.
"You see, I not only can sing the blues, but I also know why we sing it."