Andrea Dawson, The Sassy Soulstress of Blues

Each and every performance conveys Andrea’s professionalism. Dawson brings down the house, leaving fans clamoring for more, wondering, “How did this Diva master such an impressive range of musical styles?”

Nothing, not even extreme stage fright or shyness could keep Austin’s Andrea Dawson from getting up on stage to sing in front of a live audience. The path from her first paid gig on a rooftop in Dallas to being crowned ‘The Sassy Soulstress of Blues’ is testament to this songstress’ dedication to her craft. 

As a child growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania, Dawson always sang with others: in her church choir, with different chorale groups and even a four-part harmony barbershop quartet. Throughout her high school years and beyond, Dawson worked to pursue her dream, enlisting the help of vocal coaches.

Life interrupted Dawson’s path to a singing career as she entered the workforce, which ultimately brought her to Dallas, Texas. “I was working with Geico Insurance Company doing customer service way before Geico became the gecko and a big deal,” said Dawson. “It was a one year assignment, and I just never left.”

It was around the time Dawson turned thirty that she knew singing was more than just something she loved. “Singing was something I had to do,” Dawson stated, “I told myself if I don’t do it now, I might never do it.” 

She knew she had to get past the obstacles of stage fright and of being extremely shy. “First, I started off doing public speaking with Toastmasters,” she explained, “just to be able to get in front of people.” To get used to singing on her own in pubic, Dawson performed at karaoke bars and sat in with different bands at Blues jams. “Finally,” she remembers, “I hooked up with a band that wanted me to perform with them.”

Dawson’s crossover point from wanting to be a singer to actually being a singer happened in Dallas at a place called The Bone. She was hired to sing a couple of sets on the rooftop.  “At the end of the night, the guy who hired me handed me one hundred dollars. I didn’t think he was actually going to pay me,” recalls Dawson.

Putting her audience at ease is a skill Dawson has perfected. “It’s not just a show,” she said, “It’s back and forth communication with the audience.” She uses humor to make each show personable and to make people feel comfortable.

An opportunity to sing abroad in Shanghai was something Dawson could not pass up.  “My friend Sandra Kaye is a fabulous jazz singer who lived in Dallas and toured in Asia,” explained Dawson. “She was doing a gig at the Waldorf and getting ready to take on another show, so she suggested me as her replacement. That is how I got to travel abroad and I would love to do more of that.” Her mix of smooth jazz and sultry blues led to tours with the Lucky Peterson Band in Portugal and headlining her own act in Santiago, Chile.

Her ability to sing various styles of music including Blues, Folk, R & B, Jazz and even Rock, caught the attention of songwriter Tom Thompson who needed a vocalist to record ten of his original songs. The result was her debut CD, “Left with the Uptown Blues,” that showcases her multi-faceted range. “My vocal style is more on the blues side, so no matter what I sing, that’s what it normally comes out sounding like,” according to Dawson.

A long-time fan of Etta James, Dawson, if given a chance, would love to go back in time for a conversation with this musical icon. “I’d ask how she was able to overcome being a strong female in a male-dominated society, her general thoughts on managing her career and leading her band at the same time,” states Dawson.

The Etta James Tribute Project is a work in progress. “Because she had such a wide variety of music in her years and years of singing, it takes a very special group of people to put that show on,” explains Dawson. “It’s in its infancy, but I’m developing it now to really produce a show with all the horns that are needed for her early stuff, jazz, country…everything.”

‘Andrea Dawson and the At Last Band Presents: The Moods of Etta!’ is a show she hopes to take on tour. From her home base in Austin, Dawson plays regular gigs at an upscale jazz and blues restaurant called The Brass House and is in negotiations to start another residency at The Skylark Lounge. She also plays local and regional festivals including the Frog Blues Festival, Dallas Juneteenth Festival, Amarillo Texas Blues Festival and the Eastside Kings Festival.

Completely over her stage fright, Dawson offers advice for anybody just getting into the industry: “I would tell them will yourself to get up in front of large groups of people as often as possible. Anytime there is an opportunity or a stage, make it your business to be on it, even if just for a few minutes, and to keep doing that as often as possible.”

When she’s not singing, Dawson likes to crochet, enjoys reading, taking long walks, hanging out with friends and family and surfing the internet.

As for the shyness, Dawson is no longer shy on stage. “On a personal level, there are times when I am still shy on a one-to-one basis.” She uses social media to communicate with her fans. “I put it all out there and post stuff that I find humorous,” she said, “I let people see my passion.”

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