Marcia Ball

Mary Bruton

Marcia Ball is the Auntie Mame of the blues. Worldly. Wise. Loving. And unapologetic. "Life is a banquet," said Auntie Mame, "and most poor suckers are starving to death!"

Shine Bright, Ball's new album, celebrates the banquet of life. "Be the life of the party," she sings about a party that's all the livelier with the sizzle of calypso. 

Jati Lindsay / Courtesy of the Kennedy Center

What are the holidays without Charlie Brown? Nowadays, the quietly elegant and celebratory recordings by pianist Vince Guaraldi have become as much a part of the holidays as the sound of unwrapping presents. And every year we are treated to at least one interpretation of that classic Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack by one of the pianists on NPR's A Jazz Piano Christmas. This year is no exception.

Marcia Ball is an old friend to WBGO's Performance Studio and Steinway B. When she plays solo, she fills the room with her busy left hand and raspy Southern-twinged voice - you don't miss a band at all. But Marcia's been leading a band for decades now.

She says though she never really mentored in a traditional sense, she always surrounds herself with superior musicians. "I have people in my band who can guide me musically."