Toni Price (born March 13, 1961) is an American country blues singer from Austin, Texas, United States.
Price was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her adoptive parents, the Prices, named her Luiese Esther after her grandmothers. Her first exposure to blues was through second-generation blueswoman Bonnie Raitt. Luiese later began to study the recordings of women blues singers such as Sippie Wallace and Victoria Spivey, from whose music Raitt herself had learned.
Luiese moved to New Jersey, where she started schooling and began singing, then moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where a summer parks program featured a talent contest in her 10th year, which she entered as Toni Price. This was her first recorded appearance on a Nashville stage, belting out "One Tin Soldier". Price's conservative family wasn't particularly musical: "Since I was adopted, they didn't know what to expect of me, and I believe you're born to do whatever it is you do - that maybe my [birth] parents were musical. Maybe not. But I knew as a little bitty child I was going to be a singer. I didn't know how you did it or know any musicians, but I knew I would get there."
Price musically grew in Nashville, where she recorded a few country and western singles. However, she felt frustrated by the 'rigid' Nashville music industry. She accepted an invitation to play the South by Southwest music festival in Austin in 1989. The town's music fans "just responded so lovingly that I said that's it. I know where I belong."Here she met and learned from the locals, who included Clifford Antone, owner of Antone's blues nightclub, and Austin-area guitarists such as Derek O'Brien, who produced her second album, "Hey". Shortly after she began singing in country bars in Nashville, she met songwriter Gwil Owen, who wrote eight (one co-written) of the 15 songs on her debut, Swim Away (1993). Price cites vocalists Aretha Franklin, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Patsy Cline, and Ray Charles as her major influences.
Swim Away and Price's second album, Hey (1995), received praise from both fans and critics. She has been often compared with Patsy Cline ("Patsy Cline on a Harley") and Bonnie Raitt. Price has won numerous awards, including Female Vocalist of the Year (1994–97), Album of the Year (Hey), Song of the Year ("Tumbleweed"), and Blues Artist of the Year.Her third album, Sol Power , was recorded at a club in Texas's remote town of Alpine. Sol Power (1999) is an acoustic live set from the Railroad Blues Club - in a tiny town in the picturesque southwestern desert lands of Texas. The landscape there inspired the band to, in Toni's words, "take it to the limit." Low Down and Up (1999) followed, and then came Midnight Pumpkin , (2001), Born to Be Blue (2003), Talk Memphis (2007), and Cherry Sunday Orchestra (2010).
Except for infrequent appearances in Houston, Dallas, or an occasional music festival elsewhere, Price stays close to home and her daughter. "I have a sweet situation here," Price told John Burnett of NPR. "I don't have to go anywhere. People come and see me and I'm so, so lucky."Price performed at the wedding of Julia Roberts and Daniel Moder in Taos, New Mexico, on July 4, 2002.
Price has always performed music on her own terms; she refuses to go out and regularly did not even stand up while performingevery Tuesday night for 15 years until June 2007 at the Continental Club in Austin, where music lovers feel that Toni Price has the same star potential as other musical talents such as Jimmie Vaughan, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Lyle Lovett, and Nanci Griffith that the town produced.
"My favorite thing someone says to one of my friends is, 'Why isn't she famous?' I love when they say that because that means they think maybe I'm good enough to be famous. To me, famous looks like a lot of work."
Price relocated to San Diego in June 2007, but two years later, in June 2009, she moved back to Austin.
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