Jacquie Maddix – Lady J Maddix
By Mitzi Beliveau
I met Jacquie as many of her friends call her at a Jam Session at Wilebskis Blues Saloon in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Jacquie fans call her, Lady J has a bigger than life personality and amazing laughter when you first meet her. I felt completely comfortable talking to her.
Lady J also has a bit of spice that lights up every were she goes. A very multi-talented woman with much wisdom to share. Did I mention she also sings with an extraordinary voice that is perfection?
Lady J is more known as Jacquie Lady J Maddix on Radio FKAI on 90.3 FM every Tuesday at 2 PM. Everything is Blues is Lady J! Not only is she on the radio, but Lady J also sings and plays a percussion instrument at all the blues Jam Sessions I go to.
Lady J also has a band, Lady J Griot & Her Root Doctors, Root Wisdom from the Elders Circle. Lady J was also Inducted into the 2015 Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame.
Thank you, Lady J, for letting me post your pictures (3) to your story!
Lady J is a multi-talented woman who is the best at everything she does. I asked Lady J a few questions about her life. In her own words via email.
What drew you to the music?
“When I was young growing up in St. Paul, my family lived in the lower half of a duplex that was owned by people who had an extensive blues record collection. Every night as I went to sleep, I could hear the booming of drums and a screaming guitar that I later learned was Albert King music. But back then though, it was a mysterious thing to me that once my parents put the kids to bed, they went upstairs to hang out with other adults, leaving me to associate that kind of music with being a grown-up and I couldn’t wait until I was grown enough to listen to the blues.”
How did you get to the radio station?
“In 1988, I attended Brown Institute for Radio & Television Broadcasting. During my time there, I was selected to intern at Cities’ 97 Radio to work in the department, which handles the flow of commercials/advertising and generates a log of daily events for on-air broadcasting. Once I graduated from Brown, I quickly moved on to work for CBLS Cable Radio, Midwest Sports Channel, and WCCO Television, where I worked in the news department helping produce daily newscasts. At the same time, I also worked for SPNN Cable Access Television in St. Paul, running studio cameras. I would also go out to the nightclubs with a field camera to tape live music by bands like Down Right Tight or the Senders, then run it on cable access tv. Once I started to produce my own show in the SPNN Studio, I set up a meeting with Joel Johnson of the Joel Johnson Band to tape one of his live sets. He told me about KFAI Radio needing more female DJs, and I contacted the radio station to get involved there. By 1994, I was not only on the air there programming the ladies’ side of the blues, but I was also married to Joel Johnson.”
Tell me more about your band?
“After several years of emceeing gigs and hosting blues jams, I decided it was time for me to step out front and express my own unique take on the blues. I was drawn into the music by the lyrics that speak about voodoo, black cat bones, goofer dust, and mojo hands. My mother was from Mississippi, and every now and then, she would make references to what I called “old people’s ways,” talking about brooms sweeping feet, or watch what people put in your food. She would never go into great detail about it and would shush me up if I tried to ask her about it. Then suddenly, I hear all those references laid out in the blues. I was immediately drawn to it and to the understanding that the lyrics were talking about actual events. The more I listened, the more I could swear the blues was speaking directly to me, saying: “take what I’m saying to you and tell the people.” So, in 2011, I took what the blues was saying to me and created “Lady J Griot & Her Root Doctors” to tell people about the magical references in the blues that come from our ancient African way of life. I contacted guitarist Brian Dyke, who I knew from blues jams and convinced him to join me in a duo, presenting the blues in a front porch Mississippi delta kind of way, like Sonny Terry & Brownie Mcghee. And in 2015, we were inducted into the Minnesota Blues Society Hall of Fame as historians of the blues.”
What do you love the most about what you do?
“Spreading the Spirit. Talking about the “Magic of the Blues.” Being on stage with the right musicians: Brian Dyke on guitar, Wendell Kirk on bass, and Elliot Harris on drums strutting around preaching the positive message that the blues heals you.”
Thank you, Jacquie Maddix, Lady J for your answers to the questions and sharing your beautiful music and wisdom! You can find out more about Jacquie Maddix, Lady J, by clicking on the link below.
Radio FKAI on 90.3 FM every Tuesday at 2 PM
Wilebski’s Blues Saloon webpage