Oakland-born vocalist E.C. Scott specialized in performing songs popularized by other artists – Etta James, Nancy Wilson and Al Jarreau among her favorites – during the early stages of her career.
After bluesman Joe Louis Walker suggested she write her own, Scott had little trouble coming up with lyrics. She drew from her own personal experiences for her original odes, many of them filled with wit and wisdom.
“I started off getting them from ex-husbands,” Scott said at her hillside home in Union City, having been married three times and currently single. “Anything they did to me, I could write a song about it. I lived those songs.”
Scott’s compositions combine her often-sassy delivery and tight backing band, which she calls Smoke. Her arrangements appealed to Blind Pig Records in San Francisco, which led to a contract and her recording three CDs between 1995 and 2000.
Her fourth, 2003’s “The Other Side of Me” on the Black Bud label, featured guest appearances by blues great Little Milton.
Since beginning her career as a blues recording artist two decades ago, Scott has performed throughout the United States and Canada, as well as in Spain, France, Germany, Poland and other European countries.
Her start in music began at age 16. While attending Skyline High School, Scott was broadcast every Sunday on KDIA as a soloist with the St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church choir.
During that same time, she began sitting in with jazz pianist Slim Slaughter at Lancer’s on Lakeshore Avenue, where she started performing. Scott performed first for tips only until the club owner hired her to sing for $35 a night, a substantial amount of money in the late 1960s.
“I was making money, and I was still going to high school,” she said. “I felt rich. I even had a car.”
Scott initially thought that the predominately female audiences at Lancer’s were simply housewives until Slaughter asked her if she knew what “lesbian” meant.
“What do you call women who like other women?” she recalled the pianist asking.
“Naturally, I used the other word,” she remembered.
“Oh, my God! Don’t ever say that word,” she recalled Slaughter saying.
Now for the past nine years, Scott has produced and hosted a half-hour television program, “EC’s Jook Joint” that is currently carried on six commercial stations and over 300 community access stations across the country.
“Whereas the older artists send in DVDs of their performances and they’re standing up,” she said, “the younger artists are giving you videos where the storyline is unfolding right in front of your eyes, sort of like a mini-movie. I’m loving that.”
Scott is currently working on a single titled “Preacher” that she plans to sell through iTunes. Her next scheduled performance will be Aug. 22 at the Winnipeg BBQ & Blues Festival in Manitoba, Canada.