- Houston native Diunna Greenleaf performs Nov. 9 -
Some special magic happened on The Bender stage back in June when blues icon Kenny Neal brought a local artist to the stage for a solo and duet.
To say that the audience was enthralled is an understatement, according to those who saw the performance.
“People afterwards wanted to know, 'Who was that woman?'” said Jennifer Wooden, director of The Charles Bender Performing Arts Center near Historic Downtown Humble as well as director of the Humble Civic Center and Arena.
That woman was singer and songwriter Diunna Greenleaf.
“She’s well known internationally, travels the world performing at blues festivals,” said Wooden, “but she’s not really known in her own hometown. When Kenny Neal brought her on stage, I knew we had to bring her back and give her the opportunity to make The Bender stage her own.”
Lake Houston will have the opportunity to hear what all the buzz is about when Greenleaf perform what Wooden calls “Dirty Blues” at The Bender Saturday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15.
Before hitting the musical road, Greenleaf earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Prairie View A&M University. Fortunately for us, she focused on her love for jazz, gospel and soul, developed her own powerful style, “Greenleaf’s Style of Blues,” she calls it, and became who her fans call, “the people’s queen of blues.”
Her fellow artists recognized her talent early on when she won the International Blues Challenge in 2005. She went on to win “Best New Artist Debut” at the 2008 Blues Music Awards. The next year, she was nominated as Best Traditional Blues Female. In 2012, Greenleaf was nominated again as Best Traditional Blues Female and her album, “Trying to Hold On,” was nominated as Best Traditional Blues Album. She wrote 10 of the 14 songs on that album. She won the Koko Taylor Award as best traditional blues female in 2016, then won it two more years in a row.
Greenleaf still lives in her hometown, the first woman to be elected president of the Houston Blues Society, instrumental in founding the annual Houston Blues Society Founders Day, a strong supporter of the Blues in Schools Program, and founder of the Friends of Blues Montgomery County.
She is an international performer as well, traveling the world with her back-up band, Blue Mercy, performing in blues festivals in Switzerland, France and Poland, and at the Montreal Blues Society, proving that she really is “the people’s queen of blues.”
She’ll return from Denmark just in time to headline The Bender stage on Nov. 9.
“When she gets up on stage to perform, she becomes the music. It exudes from her soul,” says local Realtor Deborah Rose Miller, who has seen Greenleaf perform multiple times at the Green Oaks Tavern in Historical Downtown Humble. “She’ll bring the house down, I promise. We’ll be dancing in the aisles.”
Miller has already purchased her tickets and hopes for a huge, enthusiastic audience for the Houston native.
“It’s too bad that these incredible performers are better known in Europe than they are in their own hometown,” she said. “Greenleaf deserves our support.”
Take a listen to “the people’s queen of blues” on YouTube, putting her own special blues styling to spirituals like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” as well as classics like her “Sunny Day Friends,” and everything in between.
Friend her on Facebook and view an amazing eight-minute performance June 16 at Green Oaks Tavern in Historic Downtown Humble and the duets she performed on The Bender stage when she performed with Neal.
Then hurry to The Bender website to purchase a $15 ticket for Greenleaf and Blue Mercy, Saturday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m. at humblepac.com or by calling 281-446-4140.
Two fan favorites are returning to The Bender in November and December. The Liberty Opry returns Nov. 23, this time with Texas native singer Lisa Layne and the Liberty Opry Band. The City of Humble presents the Michael Hix Christmas Party Dec. 14. Tickets are on sale now for $15 each.