Sara Jordan, who died in 2001, is still remembered in Knoxville as the Queen of the Blues. Just about anyone who plays blues in town—from the professionals down to the most casual jam participants—crossed paths with her at some point, and they’ll be sharing both memories and music at a special birthday celebration at Patrick Sullivan’s on Thursday, Nov. 18. (Jordan’s birthday was Nov. 15, 1955.) More than 40 musicians are lined up to play seven sets, headlined by Labron Lazenby and the LA 3 and featuring songs written and performed by Jordan.
Jordan performed locally for more than a decade, starting out with gospel and R&B before moving into the blues, and was known for the power of her voice.
“She didn’t have some sweet, pretty little voice,” Lazenby, who played in Jordan’s band the Leftovers in the late ’90s and early ’00s, said after her death. “It moved you. It was like thunder.”
“She was a loyal friend with a wonderful laugh and a great sense of humor,” says Diana Michel, president of the Smoky Mountain Blues Society, which is organizing and sponsoring the event. “You couldn’t go see her without some of her songs bringing tears to your eyes or giving you chills. We could all feel what she was feeling.”
Lazenby will be joined by Geoff Trabalka, Sharon Mosby, Billy Valentine, Jenna Jefferson, Jason Lockwood, Ed Corts, Michael Crawley, Robert Higginbotham, “Big Daddy” Rick Rouse, and dozens more at the show, which starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5-$10; all proceeds from the door will be donated to InterFaith Health Clinic, which provided medical care for Jordan during the last few years of her life.