Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Artist: Ellen McIlwaine, Album: The Real Ellen McIlwaine, Song: Higher Ground

Ellen McIlwaine is a singer songwriter who was born in Nashville but spent most of her childhood growing up in Japan.  Her adopted parents were missionaries and she actually attended a Canadian school while in Japan.  She returned to the U.S. and by the mid sixties, was performing as a solo artist in Greenwich Village with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Muddy Waters.  Her slide guitar playing is legendary and her first two solo albums in 1972 and '73 with Polydor Records, are key recordings for any music enthusiast.  She moved to Montreal in 1975, to record her third album, The Real Ellen McIlwaine.  This album featured a blazing cover of Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground, from his Innervisions release in 1973.  You can check it out on You Tube (  Ellen would relocate to Canada permanently in 1987 and today, still lives in Calgary, Alberta and is still touring.  She was nominated by the Toronto Blues Society in 2011 for a Lifetime Achievement Award but lost out to Paul James (see blog 12/2/11).  You can follow her at  I discovered her music very late and was obviously blown away by what I heard.  You can check out some blazing tunes from her first couple of releases on a compilation entitled, Up From The Skies, which is available on Itunes.  Tunes like "We The People", "Sliding", "Can't Find My Way Home" and "Farther Along", will blow your mind.  She has a number of covers in her song list but I can assure you that they are all very inventive.  The album, The Real Ellen McIlwaine, was re-released as a combo with her 1982 album, Everybody Needs It, on Stony Plain Records.  That album is available on Itunes as well and it includes the song, Higher Ground.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!