Memphis Songwriters Series – February 2024
Memphis Songwriters Series featuring Susan Marshall, Reba Russell, and Andy Ratliff
Discover your next favorite artist at the Memphis Songwriters Series, hosted by Memphis songwriter Mark Edgar Stuart. Mark and his musical guests take audiences on a journey behind the music, sharing personal stories and introducing exciting new works.
This innovative, immersive experience lifts the veil on Memphis’ longstanding songwriting tradition for music fans of all genres to enjoy. Each Songwriters Series performance features three of Memphis’ own seasoned musicians.
Tickets: $10 at the door
Recording artist Susan Marshall spent much of her youth studying/performing musical theatre and Opera in Memphis, Tennessee before moving to New York City where she landed leading roles Off-Broadway with The Light Opera of Manhattan (an operetta repertory company). After almost six years of that, she switched gears entirely, moving back to Memphis where she co-founded and fronted 90’s rock/soul band The Mother Station (signed to EastWest record label under Atlantic Records).
Since then, she’s released five critically praised solo albums, is known for her background vocal work on hundreds of records, performances with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, as well as her 16-year residency at Itta Bena, located on world-famous Beale Street, just above B.B. Kings.
She’s toured internationally as part of the Afghan Whigs, as well as Cat Power & The Memphis Rhythm Band appearing on Austin City Limits, The Late Show With David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and the BBC’s Later…with Jools Holland and has been a featured artist for Sun Studio Sessions on PBS.
Her stage and studio background vocal work has garnered multiple gold and platinum record awards, as well as the distinction of having sung background vocals on five GRAMMY-nominated records. Some of the names on that list are Al Green, Lucinda Williams, Keith Richards, Norah Jones, Lenny Kravitz, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ann Peebles, Don Bryant, Foy Vance, North Mississippi Allstars, Solomon Burke, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Wendy Moten, Kirk Whalum, Al Kapone and Primal Scream. She’s also had the privilege of working with iconic producers/engineers Tom Dowd, Jim Dickinson, John Hampton, Joe Hardy, Willie Mitchell, Matt Ross-Spang and her husband, renown vinyl mastering engineer, Jeff Powell.
Susan has co-written songs cut by American Idol’s Katharine McPhee, International blues music divas Reba Russell and Ana Popovic and rising Americana artist Nicki Bluhm.
Recently, Susan was honored with a brass star placed in front of the Orpheum’s Halloran Center for Performing Arts and Education in downtown Memphis along with her dear friend and longtime singing partner, Reba Russell as well as Booker T. Jones, CeCe Winans, Jimmy Webb, J.D. Souther, Wendy Moten, Van Duren, William Bell and Mark Edgar Stuart, to name a few.
Reba Russell is a name synonymous with the Memphis Music scene. Beginning early in the 1980’s (with band’s Visions, Portrait, and Reba and the Portables) and now currently fronting the Reba Russell Band, Reba has covered most bases in the music industry including touring throughout the United States and Europe and releasing eight albums independently.
Reba has lent her talents on stage and/or on recordings to U2 (When Love Comes to Town, BB King/ Bono), Class of 55 Homecoming (featuring Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins), Huey Lewis and the News (“Soulsville” album), Carla Thomas, Tracy Nelson, Jim Dickinson, Sid Selvidge, Lucero, Jimmy Thackery, and Collective Soul.
In 2011, Reba was nominated for the “Koko Taylor Vocal Award” by the Blues Foundation during their annual Blues Music Awards Show in Memphis and more recently, in November of 2018, she was honored with a Beale Street Brass Note.
The Memphis Chapter of The Recording Academy (formerly known as NARAS) awarded a “Premier Player Award for Best Female vocalist” to Reba in 1998 and 1999. Reba was also proclaimed one of several dozen women in the Memphis music industry and honored as an “Emissary of Memphis Music” by the Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission in 2009 where she (and others) was recognized and honored by the United States House of Representatives and entered into the Congressional Record.
Recently, along with 30 others, Reba was honored with a brass star on the Orpheum’s Halloran Center’s “Sidewalk of Stars”. Other inductees included Kathy Mattea, Keith Sykes, Mary Wilson, Max Weinberg, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Rodney Crowell, Vaneese and Carla Thomas, Susan Marshall, and many more.
Born in Tupelo, Mississippi and raised in the little town of Mooreville to the southeast, Andy Ratliff was drawn to all kinds of roots music, history and folklore that grew out of the South. He has been singing his whole life. The piano in his grandmother’s house started the fascination of the sounds that musical instruments could produce. This led to a lifelong pursuit of learning how to play any instrument he could get his hands on.
Heartfelt vocals seem to flow from Andy like an old muddy creek after a heavy southern rain. He is also a multi-instrumentalist and a songwriter. His original songs sound like they could have been written 100 years ago and his performances are very soulful.
His music career started in Tupelo playing in local bands. When he decided to get serious about music Memphis seemed like the next logical step. Memphis provided opportunities and friends that helped him mature as a musician and artist. Andy eventually moved to Nashville and did work as a session and touring musician for a number of years. He now lives in Mississippi where he continues to create original songs and music locally and abroad.