In the July 12th episode of Little Big Shots: Forever Young Steve Harvey welcomed on stage some young-at-heart seniors with incredible talents. One of them was 78-year-old Beverly “Guitar” Watkings, and the audience was blown away!
The Atlanta, Georgia blues great came out sporting her black Squier Stratocaster and a sparkly outfit topped off by a sharp looking hat and proceeded to blow the doors off the venue, leaving her host torn as he tried to figure out whether to dance or stand there with his jaw on the floor.
Using her past experience as a street performer (Ms. Watkins used to be one of the regulars at the Atlanta Underground), Miss Beverly proceeded showing her mastery of the entertaintment biz. Her world class shredding included some seriously stellar behind the head guitar action, earning a standing ovation when she wrapped up her performance with a level of showmanship that would make any rockstar proud.
Watkins, who has had a long and continuous musical career, got her start in the late Fifties playing with Piano Red in the Atlanta area. Although she was well known for years within the blues community, like many roots musicians, she found it difficult to crack the airwaves or get noticed by the masses—until the advent of the Internet. Over the years, she worked with Piano Red (of “Dr. Feelgood” fame) and opened for stars including James Brown, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin. She has also released 4 albums/CDs of her own original music.
In the Nineties, she was re-discovered by Music Maker Relief Foundation founder Tim Duffy, who started booking her in package shows. In 1998, she was part of the Women of the Blues “Hot Mamas” tour with Koko Taylor and Rory Block.
Her 1999 CD debut, Back in Business, earned a W. C. Handy Award nomination in 2000.
In 2016, Great Big Story posted a documentary dedicated to this amazing woman, writing: “At 76, she’s still the queen of blues guitar.”
Learn more about Beverly “Guitar” Watkins from this video:
She may have played with James Brown, BB King and Otis Redding back in the day, but Beverly "Guitar" Watkins of the Music Maker Relief Foundation has a style and legacy all her own. At 76, she's still the queen of blues guitar.
Posted by Great Big Story on Tuesday, March 29, 2016
You can also follow Ms. Watkins on facebook.