The Indianapolis-based band Queen Delphine and the Crown Jewels blends different blues styles, helmed by singer Harriet Ellis – the queen herself. WFYI’s Matthew Socey learned more about her journey through the blues.
Matthew Socey: I recently chatted with Queen Delphine of Queen Delphine and the Crown Jewels before their Small Studio performance here at WFYI. And I talked a little bit about Queen Delphine on and off the stage. As a child, she sang in her school choir, but mostly in the background. She also said that she never knew she could actually sing until 2009.
Queen Delphine: Well, four o'clock in the morning, I woke my husband up and I said honey, I want to sing the blues. Don't know where that came from. It came just out of nowhere. And he said okay, and he turned back around, and he went to sleep. So the next day, I was like, okay, I'm gonna do this. I don't know why I said it, but it's something I wanted to do. And I started doing some research and came across Koko Taylor, and she had just passed like two months prior to when I said I wanted to sing the blues. And I said, oh, I sound just like that lady right there. I sound just like her.
Socey: Off the stage, she's Harriet Ellis, a licensed nurse for over 30 years, originally from Brooklyn, New York, who moved to Indianapolis in 2002 and started getting the blues at home.
Queen Delphine: My dad Harry Frazier, Jr. He's originally from South Carolina. And the blues that we grew up hearing was southern soul blues, which has that more R&B feel to it…I'd never heard of Chicago blues until I moved here in Indiana, and decided to sing the blues.
Socey: After taking some vocal lessons, Harriet Ellis decided to dig within to create the stage singer Queen Delphine.
Queen Delphine: Delphine is my middle name. That is my government middle name that I hated. Oh my gosh, I hated that name.
Queen Delphine: It was just so old. You know, it was just so old and, you know, outdated. And I did not like that name until I started doing the blues. And I was like, oh, I love my name…thanks, daddy. I appreciate it.
Socey: And you made her royalty.
Queen Delphine: Yes. And then we were trying to find something that would go with Delphine and my husband suggested queen, and then I was like okay, now I need to find the name for the band, and was doing some research and came across the crown jewels. And I was like, perfect. There it is. Queen Delphine and the Crown Jewels.
Scroll through Small Studio Sessions page for every session, with both audio and video versions. You can also catch these performances on WFYI's Small Studio Signal Boost weekly program, airing on WFYI 90.1 Saturdays at 9 p.m.
Are you interested in playing WFYI's Small Studio? Submit your info at http://www.wfyi.org/smallstudioentry