Described as “...the unknown queen of Americana…” (Feedback, Norway), “..a Black Lucinda Williams…” and a “...brutal, original, explosive singer…” (Vanity Fair, Spain), Queen Esther’s creative output musically is the culmination of several critical Southern elements, not the least of which are years of recording and touring internationally as frontwoman for several projects with her mentor, harmolodic guitar icon James “Blood” Ulmer, including a stint in his seminal band Odyssey. Raised in Atlanta, GA and embedded in Charleston, SC’s Lowcountry – a region with African traditions and Black folkways that span centuries and constantly inform her work – Queen Esther uses her Southern roots as a touchstone to explore cultural mores in America, deconstructing well-worn historical narratives while creating a reclamation-driven soundscape.
A member of SAG/AFTRA, Actors Equity, Dramatists Guild and the Recording Academy, her work as a vocalist, lyricist, songwriter, actor, solo performer, playwright and librettist has led to creative collaborations in neo-vaudeville, alt-theater, various alt-rock configurations, (neo) swing bands, trip-hop DJs, spoken word performances, jazz combos, jam bands, various blues configurations, original Off-Broadway plays and musicals, experimental music/art noise and performance art. Thanks to an admin publishing deal with Bug Music (now BMG Rights Management) instigated by the esteemed guitarist/songwriter Alejandro Escovedo, Queen Esther started her imprint EL Recordings and has released five critically acclaimed albums, including the internationally lauded Black Americana project Gild The Black Lily (2021).
Queen Esther’s most recent work includes headlining Lincoln Center’s 2022 Summer for the City with her western swing collective The Black Rose of Texas (featuring Queen Esther, Kat Edmonson and Synead Cidney Nichols on vocals, and the legendary Cindy Cashdollar on pedal steel guitar) that was augmented by a performance workshop at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and later that year, a sold out weekend of shows at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola; and a grant from The 2022 New York City Women's Fund for Media, Music and Theater for Blackbirding, an alt-country album – written during an All Media Artist Residency at Gettysburg National Military Park.
Currently, Queen Esther is a playwright-in-residence in the 2022 - 2024 WP Theater Pipeline PlayLAB, with a full length play scheduled for an Off Broadway staged reading in April 2024. She is a member of Joe's Pub Working Group, Western Arts Allilance's Performing Artist Discovery program and Keychange US Talent Development Program. Queen Esther's pandemic album Rona (released June 2, 2023) is climbing the folk charts while garnering airplay and reviews worldwide as her 2018 TED Talk about the true origins of country and bluegrass steadily reverberates throughout the Americana community.
Coming in 2024: Things Are Looking Up, a jazz album of original songs and Lady Day's lost classics, and the alt-Americana album Blackbirding.