October 9, 2010 Celebration of
in Madison, Wisconsin
Click to read the
by the City of Madison
Celebrating "Cheatham Day" in Madison, WI, Oct 9, 2010
Standing: Professor George Shirley, Producer Leotha Stanley
Sitting: Vocalist Carmen Lundy, Jeannie Cheatham, Pianist Gerri Allen
4th Annual Jimmy Cheatham Memorial Jazz Jam on "Cheatham Day"
with many former students and friends of Jimmy Cheatham at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison at the Inn on the Park.
(l to r) - Sipho Kunene, Robert Rhymes, Steve Collins, Tina Moore,
Ron Myers, Jeannie Cheatham, Bruce Alford & Manty Ellis
The University of Texas announces the release of a book by the legendary Jeannie Cheatham!
"Few autobiographies of American musicians, written without the aid of a
collaborator, have been written as artfully as this life story"
Lee Hildebrand, Living Blues Magazine
"Jeannie Cheatham has written one of the best jazz autobiographies in years--
packed yet pacy, sharply observed, personal and a real page-turner"
Peter Vacher, UK Jazz
"Well worth acquiring! This memoir is informal, yet informative with musicians
such as Earl Hines, Mary Lou Williams and the men of the Sweet Baby Blues Band
making important appearances"
Scott Yanow, LA Jazz Scene
"This girl can write! She balances life's trials and tragedies with a deep faith as
well as a great sense of humor!"
Dr. Jack Wheaton, Founder & Past President
-International Association of Jazz Educators
"Like the author, this book is a rich, detailed, joyous account of a life devoted to
the music that frames the American cultural heritage."
David Cooper, Retired Associate Editor
-Akron Beacon Journal & Co-Founder
, Del Mar Jazz Party
"Her life is an open book! Unflinching candor-a compelling read!"
George Varga, Union Tribune
2006 ZORA NEALE HURSTON AWARD -- National Association of Black Story Tellers
2006 LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD -- San Diego Music, Inc.
2007 LEGENDS OF JAZZ AWARD -- Del Mar Jazz Party
Jeannie and Jimmy Cheatham and the Sweet Baby Blues Band will appear at:
THE KENNEDY CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
May 11, 2007 -- Washington,DC
This exhibit memorializing the music of Prof. Jimmy and Jeannie Cheatham was displayed at University of California San Diego.
The exhibit included Jimmy's bass trombone and Jeannie's cooking pot she used to cook creole. The University kicked off the exhibit with a gathering honoring Mrs. Cheatham.
The story behind
“Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On”
“Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On” is the delightful and uplifting memoir of Jeannie Cheatham, a woman of color who grew up during the Great Depression in a neighborhood filled with Italians, Greeks, Hungarians and British people. The rest were a troop of free-wheeling, free-thinking relatives: uncles, aunts, cousins, M’Ma, M”DA, Gramma, Grampa, and the matriarch, Great Gramma Lizzie, who was born a slave, remained a slave until 12 years of age, but did not die a slave. She immersed all the children in lessons of resiliency, courage and ambition.
The Black experience in America - from the ’30s through the ’90s - is colorfully and thoroughly revealed throughout this memoir.
Jeannie Cheatham was trained in both the classical tradition and in the famous Kansas City jazz tradition by some of its greatest musicians: Pete Johnson, Jay McShann and Count Basie.
She began writing this memoir in longhand on yellow-lined legal pads on her 70th birthday. She writes about what it was like to be a woman on the road in a man’s world, and what it means to be a mother who must work away form her children in order to provide for them. She writes of a life spent fighting racism and sexism, of rage and resolve, misery and miracles, betrayals and triumphs, of faith almost lost in dark places but mysteriously regained in a flash of light.
The great musicians of the past fifty years are there, from the Big Bands of Cab Calloway (“Minnie the Moocher”), Grover Mitchell (Count Basie band leader), Bill Tole (“New York, New York”), Big Mama Thornton (“Hound Dog”) to George Lewis (MacArthur New Music Genius). Jeannie Cheatham played piano for them all.
Her riveting stories range from hilarious to haunting as she teaches us about life through her own adventures and misadventures.
An international audience of jazz and blues music lovers, developed through their support of Jeannie and Jimmy Cheatham’s Sweet Baby Blues Band, will love this book.
Jeannie’s song, “Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On,” is still being re-recorded today and sung from Europe and Africa to Japan. The song is being played on a regular basis on stations in Washington, D.C.; Chicago, Ill.; KSDS in San Diego and KJZZ in Long Beach. Jazz and blues clubs all over the world are eagerly awaiting the story behind the woman who created “Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On.”
For more information about the book, contact Jeannie Cheatham at:
Biographies of Jeannie and Jimmy Cheatham
“Jimmy and Jeannie Cheatham’s brand of blues is a joyful blend of spirit and intelligence. It’s rooted in tradition, but still swings like mad.”
- Ken Franckling, JazzTimes
Jeannie and Jimmy Cheatham and the Sweet Baby Blues Band play in the Kansas City blues style at its best. The musicians, individually and collectively, are Masters. They come together in a medley of shared ideas, stepping out with creative solos, presenting a magnificent feast of joyful music. Their energy, based on spiritual inspiration, flows from one to the other. Their emphasis is on sharing - not only with each other, but with the audience, making the audience one with the band.
Their music is unrestrained, exuberant, soulful, rollicking, growling, howling, roaring, wicked, virtuous, wild and truthful. The great Thad Jones greeted them with a grin as they came offstage at the Fujitsu Concord Jazz Festival, saying, “Thank you. Thank you for bringing us back to The Truth!” Their sound is big and bold and beautiful. They talk about today using a vehicle of yesterday.
Jeannie Cheatham’s musical style was shaped in the church choir in Akron, Ohio. She began to study piano when she was five and went on to play in the school band. She and Jimmy Cheatham taught at the University of Wisconsin before moving to San Diego in 1978, where they continue to make their home.
Jimmy Cheatham retired as Professor Emeritus status in 1993 from the University of California at San Diego as Professor of Music. Jimmy was such a valuable resource, however, that UCSD officials hired him back immediately to continue in his role as Jazz Ensemble Director. In 1993, Jimmy and the UCSD Jazz Ensemble were selected by the San Diego Music Awards Committee for Best Jazz Ensemble. The Cheathams and the Sweet Baby Blues Band were voted as the Best Jazz Band in the area by the same group.
Jimmy taught Improvisation and Black Music History and was the Director of UCSD’s Jazz Program during his active teaching years. Over the years, he has played bass trombone with Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Thad Jones and Ornette Coleman, and was Musical Director for Chico Hamilton. He arranges all the songs for the Sweet Baby Blues Band and co-writes with his wife, Jeannie, most of their original songs.
Jeannie performed with Big Mama Thornton off and on for ten years. She was featured with Thornton and Sippie Wallace in the award-winning PBS television special “Three Generations of the Blues.” In 1984, she toured with Cab Calloway. Prior to that, she was on the road accompanying blues greats such as T-Bone Walker, Joe Williams, Al Hibbler, Dinah Washington, Odetta and Jimmy Witherspoon. In 1990, she appeared with Marian McPartland on the popular radio series Piano Jazz. She is a most clever lyric writer, a gifted pianist and a delightful singer.
The Cheathams have toured Europe, performing at the Nice Festival and the North Sea Jazz Festival, among others. Down Beat magazine, reviewing North Sea, wrote, “And there was no better way to end the night than joining Jeannie and Jimmy Cheatham and the Sweet Baby Blues Band for a 3 a.m. singalong of “Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On.”
Jeannie and Jimmy Cheatham and the Sweet Baby Blues Band have performed at the Long Beach Blues Festival and the Long Beach Jazz Festival, the San Francisco Blues Festival, Playboy Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Chicago Jazz Festival and the Fujitsu Concord Jazz Festival. The have also appeared in a jazz festival in New Zealand.
The have played to packed houses at Catalina’s and Birdland West in Los Angeles and Long Beach, respectively; the Horton Grand in San Diego, the Great American Music Hall and Kimball’s East in the San Francisco area, Jazz Alley in Seattle and the Four Queens in Las Vegas.
“Sweet Baby Blues” (CCD-4358), their debut album on the Concord Jazz label, was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque de Jazz, the French equivalent of a Grammy. This album of classic blues and Cheatham originals, including their own “Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On,” has become a blues classic. “Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On” has been recorded by several other artists, including the Dirty Dozen Brass Band; has been quoted in the 1992 book “Cooler by the Lake” by Larry Heineman, and has been performed on the television sitcom “Martin!” The album was so popular, a second pressing had to be done just to keep up with orders from Chicago.
The success of their first album brought about a second, “Midnight Mama” (CCD-4297); a third, “Homeward Bound” (CCD-4321); fourth, “Back to the Neighborhood” (CCD-4373); fifth, “Luv in the Afternoon” (CCD-4429); sixth, “Basket Full of Blues” (CCD-4501), and now, a seventh, “Blues and the Boogie Masters (CCD-4579). As has been the case on each of the other six CDs, the Cheathams have had at least one special guest appearing with them.
Alto sax great Hank Crawford and the extraordinary trumpeter Snooky Young play on several cuts on “Blues and the Boogie Masters.”
“Luv” was voted Blues Album of the Year in Down Beat’s 1991 Critics’ Poll, and “Basket Full of Blues” was named on Jazzscene of Oregon Critics’ Poll of 1992. They also won the JazzTimes 1990 Critics’ Poll Blues Group award. In 1991, the band appeared on “Club Date,” a PBS television program that is still being aired across the United States.
The band delighted Johnny Carson when they appeared on “The Tonight Show” that closed the 1988 series. Jeannie has been nominated in 1988 and 1993 by the W.C. Handy Blues Music Awards for Traditional Female Artist of the Year. In 1989, “Back to the Neighborhood” was nominated for a Handy Award. Her and Jimmy’s song “Blues Like Jay McShann” was nominated by the W.C. Handy Blues Music Award Committee for Song of the Year in 1992.
Jeanie Cheatham is one of the most authentic blues vocalists/pianists alive today. With Jimmy Cheatham’s “shouting bass trombone and aptly tailored arrangements,” Jeannie is well on her way to becoming the new Queen of the Blues.
The motto of the Sweet Baby Blues Band is “Nobody goes home feeling bad.” And nobody does.
For more information on the availability of the Sweet Baby Blues Band
for clinics, workshops and concerts, contact Jeannie Cheatham at: