Imported from South Carolina’s Lowcountry and The ATL respectively, vocalist, songwriter, musician, and solo performer Queen Esther lives in Harlem and continues to perform internationally with her mentor, harmelodic guitar icon James “Blood” Ulmer, in various projects -- including a recent European tour with his iconic free jazz group Odyssey -- as she forges her own sonic path.
Known for her solo performance projects The Moxie Show and Queen Esther: Unemployed Superstar, Queen Esther received an AUDELCO award nomination (2002) for her star turn in George C. Wolfe’s Harlem Song and returned to The Apollo Theater with a performance residency for her jazz musical The Billie Holiday Project. A special Drama Desk Award (2001) was given to Tribeca Playhouse for their production of Queen Esther’s Stagedoor Canteen, a weekly hour-long USO-style variety show that welcomed performers to entertain Ground Zero relief workers for free.
Her discography as a vocalist, songwriter and/or producer includes Mighty by Hoosegow, an alt-blues duo formed with guitarist Elliot Sharp, Blues & Grass by The 57th St. Blues Project, Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-blooey! by The Dirtbombs and The Harlem Experiment, along with four critically acclaimed self-released albums. Recent highlights: a 2018 TED Talk about the erasure of African-Americans in country and bluegrass; headlining at Dizzy’s in Lincoln Center with Queen Esther sings Billie Holiday: The Lost Classics; a Black Americana performance at the 2018 Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago, Ill; and a suite of vaudeville blues at the New York Hot Jazz Festival.
"Every song is sung with passion and fire, by this underrated female singer who should be a musical giant." -- Country Music People (UK)
"Queen Esther's vocals, even at their hardest-rocking, invoke the high-and-lonesome plaintiveness of the honky-tonk bluegrass/rockabilly continuum as much as they do the harsher-timbred blues tradition." -- Living Blues
"Can you imagine a black Lucinda Williams? Not like when she plays the blues torn from her first albums, no. A black Lucinda Williams in pop, rhythm, blues and even gender roots Americana. So it sounds, if you can imagine such a hodgepodge somehow, the latest album from this brutal, original, explosive singer." -- Vanity Fair (Spain)