Blues Artist Ann Rabson Dies

Blues pianist/singer/songwriter/guitarist Ann Rabson has died after a lengthy battle with cancer.  The co-founder of Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women was 67.

Photo: Alligator Records

Rabson died this morning (Jan. 30) in Fredericksburg, Va.

Born in New York City in 1945, Rabson was an accomplished guitarist by the time she was a teenager and began touring throughout the Midwest before she was 18

Considered one of the best barrelhouse blues pianists of her generation, Rabson didn’t start playing piano until she was 35.   DownBeat praised her keyboard ability, saying, “Rabson plays bluesy, honky-tonk piano with staggering authority.”

Rabson recorded eight albums with Saffire and one solo album for Alligator Records as well as three solo works for other labels.  Her latest release was 2012’s Not Alone on VizzTone Records.

“Our dear friend Ann Rabson was an extraordinary blues singer, pianist and guitarist and a delightful, smart and funny person,” Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer said.  “As a founding member of Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women, a solo recording artist and a life performer, she brought her talent, intelligence and intense lover for the blues tradition to every piece of music she played and sang. 

“Ann never gave her music or the rest of her life less than 100 percent of her commitment. She was a loyal friend, a dedicated champion of the blues, a loving partner to her husband George, and an unforgettable woman.  We were blessed to have known her.”

Rabson is survived by her husband George Newman, daughter Liz Rabson Schnore and granddaughter Georgia Rabson Schnore.  Funeral arrangements are pending.