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 guitarrorist 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 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.