NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

September 19, 2013

Remembering a local legend

Fundraising cruise, ceremony to honor Shirley Lewis

Former Newburyport resident Shirley Lewis was “The Regal Queen of the Blues,” and she died too soon.

“She was a hoot, man,” said Joe Laite, who lived next to Lewis on High Street from 1987 to the mid-’90s. “One of the most amazing people that I met in my life, and a lot of people shared that.”

Laite, who produces the Newburyport BluesCruise, often played guitar for his friend. But his biggest Lewis-related gig will likely be Saturday’s “A Celebration of Life for Shirley Lewis.”

The inaugural benefit for the Shirley Lewis “Living the Blues” Foundation and a combination dedication ceremony and fundraiser, the celebration will begin with a BluesCruise in Lewis’ honor that will wind its way to Newburyport’s Market Landing Park, where Lewis will be recognized for her contributions to the community with a proclamation by Mayor Donna Holaday. The state of Massachusetts has also issued a proclamation in Lewis’ name, Laite said.

“I’m honored on behalf of Shirley and so pleased to see the recognition that she worked so hard to achieve,” he said. “It’s an amazing feeling to have the opportunity to honor her life and be able to continue what she started.”

The “Living the Blues” Foundation raises money for women’s crisis centers and an annual blues scholarship.

Among those performing Saturday are Cheryl Arena, Toni Lynn Washington, Bruce Bears, and members of Lewis’ original band, including Dutch Schultz, Richard Malcolm and Lee Lundy.

The daughter of a Hopi Indian father and a Blackfoot Indian and African-American mother, Lewis was one of 13 children. She was known both for her powerful voice and collection of signature hats. Among her many accomplishments, the spiritual singer was a two-time Boston Music Awards Outstanding Blues Act nominee, the winner of the 1989 Battle of the Blues Bands at Harpers Ferry and opened for such legendary acts as Ike and Tina Turner, Ruth Brown, Buddy Guy and B.B. King.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Special Features
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
Special Features