Born and raised into a musical family in Wisconsin, guitarist and singer Liz Mandeville grew up in an arts-filled environment. Her father played guitar and sang folk songs while taking classes at the Art Institute of Chicago on the GI bill. He taught his daughter to paint and sing, and Liz often accompanied her father to art museums, gardens and art galleries, wherever his work took him. Her mother was an actress and she saw to it that her daughter had a proper education in the theater arts as well, something which came in handy many years later when Mandeville decided to pursue a career as a blues singer.
Musicians and artists were frequent guests in the Mandeville's home, and the young Mandeville was encouraged to write songs, poetry and short stories. Family vacations around the south exposed young Liz to blues, bluegrass, traditional country and folk music and New Orleans jazz and funk.
Her first professional gigs were in coffee houses around Wisconsin, playing songs her father had taught her. She cited as influences on her earliest attempts at music people like James Brown, Muddy Waters and Lightnin' Hopkins.
Known previously as Liz Mandeville-Greeson, Mandeville played the bars in and around Chicago for most of the '90s and 2000s, and she made occasional tours to points east -- New York City -- and West, to California, as well as many cities and towns in between. She spent much of the late '80 touring across the U.S. and Canada by van with her then-band, the Supernaturals. During the 2000s, she worked with a band called the Blue Points.
In 1994, she met Chicago bassist Aron Burton and subsequently performed with him at the 1994 Chicago Blues Festival. She recorded two tracks with him on his 1996 album, Aron Burton Live, and that led to her being signed to Michael Frank's Earwig Music Company.
Between 1994 and 1999, Mandeville was a frequent sight on stage at the Blue Chicago nightclubs, where she had the chance to work with a short who's-who of Chicago-area musicians, including Willie Kent, Maurice John Vaughn and Michael Coleman. She recorded her first two albums with musicians from that scene, including Burton on bass, Allan Batts, keyboards, and drummer Dave Jefferson.
Among her awards and distinctions: she was nominated for Blues songwriter of the year in 2008 by the American Roots Music Association, was named semi-finalist in the 2006 International Songwriting Competition for her composition, "Life Sentence of the Blues," and she received an award in 2005 for Best Songwriter in the USA Songwriting Competition, for her humorous tune, "He Left It in His Other Pants."
Her albums, showcasing her spry, sometimes humorous original songs, all for the Chicago-based Earwig Music label, include 2008's Red Top, Back in Love Again (2002), Ready to Cheat (1999) and Look at Me (1996). She has performed on a slew of other albums by Chicago-based blues performers, including Johnny Drummer's 2000 release, Unleaded Blues, Aron Burton's Live from Buddy Guy's Legends and a compilation of Chicago-area women blues singers, Red Hot Mamas for the Blue Chicago label. ~ Richard Skelly