Known for her chart-topping ’80s anthem “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” few people would expect Cyndi Lauper to come out with a blues album. But in the two and a half decades since Lauper entered the pantheon of American pop, her blues roots have finally come to the surface in her latest album, Memphis Blues.
Born in Queens, N.Y., Lauper rose to fame in the early 1980s after a small, short-lived stint with the band Blue Angel. After recording one album with Blue Angel, Lauper decided to focus on her solo career and hit it big with She’s So Unusual. Then she had a Grammy-nominated single, titled “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough,” which accompanied the soundtrack to the cult ’80s flick “The Goonies.” Steven Spielberg even recruited Lauper as the musical director for the film, leaving the entire soundtrack in her hands.
Lauper’s second album, True Colors, also did well on the Billboard charts. Her first three singles placed substantially on the Billboard Top 100, including a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” which reached No. 12 on the charts. Lauper’s illustrious pop career aside, her roots go back to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, which makes her current foray into low-down blues an easy transition.
For her new record, Memphis Blues, Lauper recruited B.B. King, Allen Toussaint and Charlie Musselwhite, known for being one of the most authentic nonblack bluesmen of the ’60s. Songs such as “Just Your Fool,” “Early In The Mornin’” and “Down Don’t Bother Me” give listeners a feel for what they might hear from Lauper’s new style. It may seem a little strange, considering her status as an ’80s pop icon, that she would come out with a blues record. But oddly enough, the album works because of its traditional blues-style instrumentation as well as the use of her dynamic vocals, which have become part of her trademark style over the years.
Lauper will make an appearance at the Paramount Theatre tonight to showcase her latest album and show listeners why she is the ultimate “girl who wants to have fun.”
WHAT: Cyndi Lauper with David Rhodes
WHERE: The Paramount Theatre
WHEN: Tonight; doors open at 7
HOW MUCH: Tickets start at $35