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R&B singer to co-headline Bowlful of Blues

Published: Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 11:12 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 11:49 a.m. CDT

You might not know her name, but you’ve probably heard her voice.

Shaun Murphy is a well-respected rhythm and blues singer in the music industry who has had a successful 30-year career, one that continues to grow today.

The soulful powerhouse will be gracing Newton with her presence on Saturday, Aug. 31, at the Bowlful of Blues in Maytag Park presented by the South Skunk Blues Society.

Like most musicians, Shaun was exposed to the rhythm and blues at a young age. She credits her dad for introducing her to the sound and the start of her interest in music.

Shaun was born in Omaha and raised in Cedar Rapids before moving to Detroit as a teen. After high school, she continued her education studying music, and with previous theater experience, she landed roles in the Broadway production of “Hair” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

A representative from Motown Records was present during on “Hair” performance, which led to a recording contract, a duet album with fellow musician Meat Loaf and the start to an outstanding career.

In 1973, after moving to Los Angeles and a short stint with Meat Loaf, Shaun contacted a friend back in Detroit, Bob Seger, who she had worked with in the years prior to his notoriety. This was the start of a committed and loyal business relationship.

From that point on, Shaun would perform on every Bob Seger tour. His most recent tour was in 2011.

However, the list doesn’t stop there.

Throughout her career, she also has taken opportunities to sing, tour and record with such acts as The Moody Blues, Herbie Hancock, Phil Collins, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh, Michael Bolton, Coco Montoya, Alice Cooper and Little Feat.

In 1985, legendary guitarist Eric Clapton called and asked Shaun to become a member of his band on the Behind the Sun tour.

In 1994, she became the first female member of the Los Angeles band Little Foot.

After working with an acclaimed list of musicians, her entire career has been a collection of fantastic musical experiences. However, with no hesitation, Shaun can easily recall the highlight of her career.

“When I worked with Clapton, we did Live Aid in Philadelphia,” she said. “One hundred and one thousand people were there cheering and then singing all at once. It was a physical punch. Unbelievable. It literally pushed us back. I’ve never experienced anything like that.”

The late Koko Taylor and Etta James are women Shaun places among her top favorite singers, and there is one legendary woman who continues to inspire.

“Aretha Franklin is, of course, the most influential of all. I’m enamored with artists that give it their all with everything they have.”

After spending a majority of her career out of the spotlight, Shaun recently recorded her first solo album. Her new album, “Ask For The Moon,” has been well-received by others in the industry.

Shaun is nominated for two awards at The Bluesblast Music Awards: best female blues artist and best contemporary blues album. Bluesblast is one of the largest blues magazines in the world, she said.

“I’ve been notified that I’m also up for a couple Grammy considerations in two categories,” Shaun said. “I’m so honored to be mentioned in both. I had no idea this was going to happen, and it’s just thrilling.”

South Skunk Blues Society President Craig Petersen was unfamiliar with Shaun until the blues society met to discuss potential acts for this year’s event.

“After I researched her history and listened to her CD ‘Ask for the Moon,’ I was sold,” Craig said. “Her beautiful and powerful voice is clear and true, and the musicians that back her up are the best. They play the blues just the way I like it — soulful, melodic and easy to understand.”

Shaun said she can’t wait to return to a state she grew up in, play at the Bowlful of Blues and listen to fellow performers.

“I’m very excited about playing at home in Iowa,” she said. “The line up has some of my favorites. Walter Trout has sat in with Little Feat when I was with them, and I’ve been a fan of John Primer’s for a long time and can’t wait to see him live.”

Staff writer Kate Malott may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 422, or at kmalott@newtondailynews.com.

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