To be sure, Philadelphia-based vocalist and songwriter Gina Sicilia has come a long way in a relatively short time in the blues world. This is not to say that she's some new up-and-comer, either, as this woman in her mid-twenties has been actively singing the blues and writing her own songs since she was an adolescent.
Exposed to blues and roots music by her parents, Sicilia began writing her own songs as a 12-year-old. By the time she was 16, she would have some of the songs that would be included on her debut album. She graduated in 2007 from Temple University in Philadelphia with a degree in journalism. It was during her sophomore year in college that she began attending the weekly blues jams at Warmdaddy's in Philadelphia. She cut her teeth there and began to learn and develop as she associated with blues veterans, some of whom would help her record her first few demo discs. When her debut album, Allow Me to Confess, was released in 2007, the critical reaction was positive. She was talked about as an important new voice in the blues with a maturity far beyond her years, evident in her choice of covers, where she interpreted oft-overlooked rhythm & blues classics. In the spring of 2008, her album was nominated for "Best New Artist Debut" at the W.C. Handy/Blues Music Awards in Memphis.
Her second release, Hey Sugar, let fans know that while she was only in her early twenties, she could also tackle alternative country and Americana tunes with virtuosity and aplomb. Her third release is the powerful Can't Control Myself, released on March 1, 2011, just days before her 26th birthday. Sicilia widens her stylistic palette even more with this disc, fusing classic blues, classic R&B, soul, and Americana tunes into a cohesive whole. She includes three covers made famous by Bobby "Blue" Bland, Stevie Wonder, and Ike & Tina Turner. Her third album was recorded and engineered by her VizzTone labelmate, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Dave Gross, at his home studios in northern New Jersey.
Blues Revue magazine said of Sicilia's 2007 debut, "Not since Susan Tedeschi has a young female blues singer made such a strong impression….a remarkable voice." Coupled with good management and a good booking agency, Sicilia should be touring the U.S., Canada, and Europe for years to come. And given the current paucity of truly good female blues singers, this would not be a bad thing. ~ Richard J. Skelly