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Blues Wizardry from Adia Victoria at OZ Arts Nashville

Updated: Jun 20, 2022

Last minute live music decisions in Nashville rarely disappoint. In this case we stumbled on a gem; an art gallery performance by Aida Victoria and her band.

We’d “discovered” Victoria with help from Jason Isbell, who had her open for him last year at the Ryman. We were impressed then. At OZ Arts Nashville on a Friday night, on a knee-high stage in front of a few hundred people, we were blown away.

Her style is described as “gothic blues,” which fits. Victoria sees the world with the keen eye of a poet and plays it back with sharp-edged passion. One moment she is haunting and breathy; a little girl trying to make sense of her world. The next moment she is raging and powerful; a grown woman who’s having none of it, in the tradition of folk-blues greats like Odetta.

One introduction to a song offered a glimpse into her unique voice. She told us she wrote “Mean-Hearted Woman” when she was immersing herself in the great blues singers, most of them men.

“I noticed that a lot of their songs were about mean-hearted women, so

I wondered what made those women mean-hearted,” she said.

The song builds from hurt confusion to powerful rage.

My baby woke me on Christmas Day He said it's time for me to go my way I ask him "Why you wanna say that for?" He just packed my bag and put me out the door”

Now the snow is falling through the pine You used to tell me that your home was mine At first I was sad, and then I was blue And now I'm so mad I don't know what I might do

You made me a mean-hearted woman

Victoria closed with “South Gotta Change,” a song from last year that was something of a hit for her, and that anchors her latest album, Southern Gothic. A native of South Carolina who now lives in Nashville, she said the murder of George Floyd and the death of John Lewis inspired the song. The lyrics speak for themselves.

I stood up to the mountain Told the mountain, "Say my name" And if you're tired of walking Let the children lead the way 'Cause I love you, I won't leave you Won't let you slip away Come what may We're gonna find a way

The South gotta change

You can see the official video for the song here:

Victoria is off on a tour that will take her all over the country and to Europe. Do yourself a favor and check her out while you can still see her in smaller rooms.

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