Blues Musician Ann Rabson Dies At 67

Blues musician Ann Rabson has died at the age of 67.

Ann Rabson died yesterday in Fredericksburg, Virginia, following a long battle with cancer. Rabson and her bandmates of Saffire — the Uppity Blues Women were a force in the genre for two decades before disbanding in 2009, and the group had somewhat of an unexpected start.

Back in 1992, Rabson explained how Saffire — the Uppity Blues Women got started — she says that the band came together organically, and that the ultimate harmony achieved was not expected:

“It was all by accident, not intending to be all around the same age, all the same gender, any of that stuff, or different ethnic background … It was who happened to be where, when. And it worked out real well.”

Indeed, Rabson and her fellows managed to reinterpret the risque and bawdy feel of a genre that before modern feminism, had many notable female performers yet remained steeped in ambient misogyny. In a post-feminist world, Rabson and the others in Saffire — the Uppity Blues Women repurposed much of the same content through a new lens.

Ann Rabson didn’t even pick up piano until she was 35 — but the New York-born performer said the blues seed was planted far earlier:

“I can remember like it was yesterday, but it was 1949 … I heard Big Bill Broonzy on the radio. I’d heard a lot of different kinds of music before that — we always had wonderful music at home, but we never had this, blues. I was corrupted for life.”

Ann Rabson is survived by a daughter and husband.

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