Artist Profiles: Eric Bibb

Eric Bibb

Eric Bibb, already enjoying success in Europe, is becoming a familiar face, and voice, on the U. S. acoustic folk-blues scene. His unique talent continues to draw critical acclaim around the world. Twice nominated for the W. C. Handy awards and winner of the “Best Newcomer” title in the British Blues awards, Bibb has been appropriately described as “discreetly awesome” and “a total original.” As his popularity escalates, earlier comparisons to legendary greats Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal are being replaced by quotes that speak to Bibb’s ability to “use standard blues ingredients to cook up something all his own.”

Born in 1951, Bibb is a native New Yorker with deep roots in American Blues and Folk tradition. He is the son of ‘6s folk and musical theatre singer and television personality, Leon Bibb. His uncle was world famous jazz pianist/composer, John Lewis, of the Modern Jazz Quartet, and singer/actor/activist Paul Robeson was his godfather. Surrounded by major musical figures of the day, the young Bibb was inspired and influenced by Odetta, Richie Havens, Pete Seeger, Earl Robinson, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins and many others.

Bibb got his first steel stringed guitar when he was seven. By junior high school, he was consumed by music. At age 16, Bibb’s father invited him to play guitar in the house band for his television show “Someone New.” Later years found Bibb playing guitar for the Negro Ensemble Company in 1969 at St. Mark’s Place in New York. He left for Paris at age 19, making his way playing in restaurants, traveling from Paris to Sweden, settling in Sweden in the ‘7s. He returned to New York for a brief 5-year stay in the ‘8’s, where he continued writing and opening for headliners such as The Persuasions, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Tania Maria and Etta James.

Bibb’s first signing was to BMG-Sweden as a writer, in the early ‘8s. He later signed to the independent Swedish label Opus 3, producing several albums; Spirit & The Blues and Good Stuff were recently released in the United States on EarthBeat!, helping to place Bibb more prominently in the international spotlight. Bibb went to London in 1996 at the invitation of the London Blues Festival. Since then, he has toured the world, enjoying success in the UK, USA, Canada, France, Sweden, Ireland and Germany, appearing on major television shows and radio programs. Bibb has performed at many major festivals including Glastonbury, The Barbican American Festival, The Guinness Blues Festival, Midfytns Festival, Cognac Blues Festival, Vancouver Folk Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Seattle’s Earshot Jazz Festival, Chicago World Music Festival, Bull Durham Blues Festival, San Francisco Jazz Festival and others. He has toured the United States and Canada on bills headlined by Robert Cray.

A performance by Eric Bibb is an enriching experience–both musically and spiritually. His music, like his personality, is intimate, assured and passionate, drawing listeners into the moment more as participants than spectators. It is not uncommon for the audience to be left standing and wanting more.

Bibb’s rich and sensitive vocals and lyrics provide a perfect balance to his fine fingerpicking technique. Purveying a beautifully realized and deftly accomplished soulful and gospel-infused folk-blues, Bibb has no problem blending various genres effortlessly, melding a traditional rootsy American style with a subtle, contemporary sensibility.

Bibb continues to tour at festivals and notable venues throughout Europe and in the U. S. and Canada.

Eric is one of the new, young singers that has appeared on the scene that, much to my delight, has a great voice, is an excellent performer, and has a great knowledge about the roots of this music. I love him. He is highly regarded amidst a select group of young, new, black interpreters of this music.” Taj Mahal

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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