Born and raised in Houston’s music-rich Fifth Ward, Trudy Lynn began singing in an era when the neighborhood’s blues and early R & B culture was first turning on to a new sound known simply as soul. As a younger female working with established hometown favorites such as guitarists Albert Collins and Clarence Green, Trudy learned how to fuse classic blues elements with the music of the moment. Playing for savvy audiences at places such as Walter’s Lounge, she quickly came to understand that the freshly budding flower had to be connected to its roots to survive.
It’s a lesson that Trudy has never forgotten. And, as she’s evolved - as both singer and songwriter - it’s been the fundamental philosophy behind her distinctive, multi-faceted style. “I’m not so much a blues singer; I’m a soul-blues singer,” she says. “Now I can do tradition. I can do all types. I can even do country, you know. But my first thing is really soul - kind of soul and blues mixed together.”
Beyond any quibbling about musical categorization, Trudy’s work also speaks to the universal human condition, experiences all people can appreciate. “I write, and I enjoy, songs about real life.” Combined with her capacity for delivering convincing vocal interpretations, a Trudy Lynn track simply tells it like it is - the straight and timeless truth.
“I’ve been writing songs a long time. I just didn’t start recording them until more recently,” she also points out. During her developing years in Houston, she began by filling the pages of paper tablets with original lyrics, words that often came to her spontaneously as she mused on life and its ups and downs. Occasionally she would show the scribbled results to peers such as singer/guitarist Johnny “Clyde” Copeland, whom she particularly singes out as a valuable source of advice and encouragement. Over time, she figured out how to craft her rough ideas into polished musical statements. The twenty-first century finds her now at the top of her game in this respect, as the seven new Trudy Lynn compositions on her latest disk so eloquently attest.
“Once I get a hook, something that might happen to the average person - you know, a catchy way to phrase it - I just trust that, just go with that,” she says. “Once I get that good hook, I start writing around it, you know, story-wise: trying to put over the idea, drawing from both my own life and my understanding of how it is for other people.”
As for the music - that sound that blends the emotive power of the blues with elements of sophisticated funk and soul - it comes to her naturally, despite the fact that she’s never played an instrument. “Normally when I’m writing lyrics, first I can just tell if it out to be a slow song or a fast song. Don’t ask me how,” she says with a laugh. “Then I get with a piano player or a guitar player, and just hum out what I’m trying to do That usually comes through pretty good.”
Whether the final form is a love ballad such as the nostalgic “Memories of You” or a slick blues song such as the philosophical “No Deposit No Return”, these songs are all Trudy, through and through.
But as Trudy reminds us, “I’m from Texas, so I know about country music, too.” Then she adds with a smile, “I’m giving it all a pretty funky flavor though.” Ultimately these genre-blending experiments make perfect sense for an open-minded singer whose primary theme is the core reality of human relationships.
It all goes back to what she learned starting out in Fifth Ward - creative self-statement can be enhanced by a grasp of tradition and the fundamental truths. Trudy Lynn understands – and through her music, you will, too!!