Jazz + Blues Fest

Muddy Magnolias

This year’s lineup for Jazz + Blues Festival may just be the most talented in the 11-year history of the event. Presented by the City of Beaumont and Kinsel Lincoln, the Jazz + Blues Festival will take place on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the historic Jefferson Theatre in downtown Beaumont. The festival is headlined by Muddy Magnolias, a powerful and soulful duo featuring Jessy Wilson and Kallie North. North is a Beaumont native and will be performing in Beaumont for the first time.

Tickets for the all-ages show are $10 and can be purchased at the Civic Center box office or online at ticketmaster.com.

Who are the Muddy Magnolias? Rolling Stone praised their “sound that melds city grit and Delta dirt, exploding on-stage not like two lead singers but more like parts of the same whole ... performed as if Mick Jagger and Keith Richards inhabited the Indigo Girls.”

North said she was really excited when she heard she would be playing in Beaumont.

“All of my first musical expressions and inspirations started in Beaumont — my childhood home where I learned how to play piano to Kelly High School where I sang in the choir,” said North. “Friends and family will be there, plus my old choir teachers reached out to me and said they even bought tickets to the show. I’m proud to come home and show everyone what I have been up to and perform this set of music for them.”

North, a graduate of Monsignor Kelly High School, worked as a photographer in Mississippi before her life changed when her husband gave her a guitar.

“I grew up with family sitting around the piano singing,” said North. “I would write songs on the piano but without words. I didn’t write my first song until I sat on our porch in Mississippi, and I was so excited about it. I loved the fact that I could write a song. It was very childlike. Finding out something about yourself at 27 years old is pretty fun. I took that newfound inspiration to the closest city that had something going on — Nashville.”

North drove to Nashville to see what the reaction would be with her music and was welcomed with open arms.

It was there she met Wilson, who was from Brooklyn and had been a backup singer for multiple Grammy winner Alicia Keys as well as singing with fellow 10-time Grammy winner John Legend.

The two met through a photograph that North took of an old piano that was hanging on the wall of then-BMI executive Clay Bradley. Wilson saw the photo and said she wanted to meet the person who took it. The rest is history.

 

They spent an entire year together writing music for themselves and other artists and found success with an “amazing blend” of soulful, country, R&B songs that led to the Muddy Magnolias. The name ‘Muddy’ came from a Muddy Waters record and someone suggested to North and Wilson they should be “The Magnolias,” which they liked, so they combined the two to make Muddy Magnolias.

As they began to perform, heads were turning. They played with the likes of Gary Clark Jr. and Zac Brown Band, then landed spots on Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits.

Muddy Magnolias released their debut record Broken People last October, which garnered excellent reviews from NPR Music, ELLE, SPIN and the New York Times.

Doors will open at 5 p.m. and also scheduled to play at the Jazz + Blues Festival are Barbara Lynn, Paul Childers, Lisa Marshall, Flava Band, Silas Feemster, Barelands, and the Lamar Jazz Band featuring Jimmy Simmons. There will be specialty craft beer and food available for purchase. 

Not only is coming back to Beaumont special for North, performing at the historic Jefferson Theatre is as well.

Her mother, Kay Beard, was a singer/songwriter who actually opened for country singer Charlie Pride at the Jefferson Theatre.

“She is retired from all that now, but she used to sell out the Red Carpet Inn,” added North. “When I was a kid, I used to get stopped all the time in Market Basket asking if I was Kay Beard’s daughter, and they would tell me they would go to see her sing at the Red Carpet Inn.”

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