Sue Foley. Guitarist, songwriter, b Ottawa 29 Mar 1968. Sue Foley began playing guitar at 13, learning from family members and later from blues musician Tony D (Diteodoro). Through her interest in the music of The Rolling Stones, she became aware of traditional blues. At 16 Foley began playing acoustic blues in bars. After graduation in 1986 from Ottawa's Fisher Park High School, she relocated to Vancouver, where she played in an all-female band (The Dots) and then formed The Sue Foley Band, with which she toured Canada. She then toured with harmonica player Mark Hummel, and in 1990 signed with Clifford Antone. Relocating to Austin, Texas, for the next six years, she performed in Antone's club but also on the road across North America as well as in Europe and Japan. During this time she absorbed Texas and other blues styles and developed her playing and singing, performing with or opening for such figures as John Lee Hooker, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Joe Cocker, Tom Petty, the Neville Brothers, Jennifer Warnes and Johnny Winter.
In 1997 Sue Foley returned to Ottawa (later moving to nearby Perth, Ont), became a mother and curtailed her touring. She also studied flamenco guitar with James Cohen. She has since been a regular figure at Canadian and United States festivals, eg, the San Francisco Blues Festival, the Ottawa Bluesfest, the Montreal Jazz Festival and the Edmonton Blues Festival, and at clubs, including in Los Angeles and at New York's B.B. King Blues Club. She opened for King at Massey Hall in Toronto in January 2002 and has been featured in such all-female blues shows as Antone's Women, Les Grandes dames des blues and the Toronto Blues Society Women's Blues Revue.
Known as a fiery guitar player and seasoned blueswoman, Sue Foley plays blues-rock on a pink paisley Fender Telecaster guitar. Her playing and songwriting are influenced by Billie Holiday, the guitarist Memphis Minnie and T-Bone Walker.
Recordings and Awards
Sue Foley has made over 10 recordings, mainly of her own material, beginning with Young Girl Blues for the Antone's label in Austin and followed by Where the Action Is and Love Comin' Down (produced by Colin Linden), and albums for Justin Time. She won numerous Maple Blues awards 2001-5 for best female guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, entertainer, acoustic act and recording; and a 2001 Juno award for Love Comin' Down. In 2003 she became the first Canadian nominated as the W.C. Handy contemporary blues female artist of the year; she was also Trophée de blues de France's best female guitarist three times 2000-3. Foley is one of a few prominent Canadian blueswomen, along with Rita Chiarelli and the late Jane Vasey of Downchild.
Liner notes to Blues Guitar Women, 2005, Ruf Records (Germany) RUF1110