About Thornetta Davis
One of the Midwest's leading blues divas, Thornetta Davis is a powerhouse vocalist whose music is firmly rooted in the blues and vintage R&B, though she's also lent her talents to a number of well-known rock & roll acts. Davis was born in Detroit, Michigan on August 11, 1963. When she was 15 years old, Davis' friends persuaded her to enter a local talent show, which marked the first time she sang in front of an audience. Davis soon joined a vocal group called Jas, and after they broke up, she formed a group called Chanteuse that specialized in soul and R&B covers.
Davis discovered her gift for singing the blues in 1987 when she became a backing vocalist with Lamonte Zodiac & the Love Signs, fronted by the former lead singer with the noted Detroit band the Buzztones. Zodiac soon left the band, and the remaining members regrouped as the Chisel Brothers, with Davis promoted to lead singer; they issued a cassette-only album in 1990. In 1991, Davis won the trophy for Best Blues Vocalist at the Detroit Music Awards; it was the first of more than 25 honors she would earn from the DMAs. That same year, Michigan rock icon Bob Seger hired Davis to sing backing vocals on his album The Fire Inside, and he'd invite her back for his 2007 release Face the Promise. And 1991 also saw Davis singing backup on Face, the first proper album from Michigan funk-meets-metal outfit Big Chief. Davis played an even bigger role on Big Chief's next two albums, Mack Avenue Skullgame and Platinum Jive, and Sub Pop Records (the band's label from 1991 to 1993) signed her to a record deal.
In 1994, she cut an EP with Big Chief backing her up, Shout Out (To the Dusthuffer), and two years later, several members of the band joined forces with other Midwest artists (including a then-obscure rapper named Kid Rock) to write, record, and produce Davis' debut album, Sunday Morning Music. The album was a critical success but sold modestly, and Davis returned to a steady run of live work, including a weekly residency at Detroit music venue the Music Menu. One of Davis' appearances at the club was recorded for the 2001 album Covered, Live at the Music Menu, which was named Best Blues Album of the Year at the Detroit Music Awards. Davis' rich voice also appeared in a number of regional and national television commercials, as well as in television scores. In 2001, Kid Rock recorded a song for the animated feature film Osmosis Jones, and he brought Davis in to sing backup; she also appeared on his albums Kid Rock and Rock N Roll Jesus, and as part of his touring band in 2006. Davis recorded a seasonal EP, Remember Love on Christmas Day, that was self-released in 2009.
Davis became a frequent presence at festivals and blues events throughout the Midwest, and occasionally toured in Europe and the Netherlands. In 2014, Davis staged a special concert with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as part of the Motor City's annual Concert of Colors festival. Davis' 2015 appearance at the Michigan Blues Fest was recorded and broadcast as part of the PBS music series Backstage Pass. In September 2016, she released the album Honest Woman, which was named Best Soul Blues Album of the Year by Blues Blast magazine, as well as earning eight Detroit Music Awards and the Best Blues Album citation from France's L'Academie du Jazz. ~ Mark Deming
- Detroit, MI
- August 11, 1963