Carlise Guy is the daughter of seven-time Grammy Award-winning blues legend Buddy Guy. She is also the lead vocalist of the NuBlu Band, which blends blues, soul and R&B into their powerhouse performances that pay homage to their Chicago roots.
NuBlu has performed around the country and around the world, from huge outdoor festivals in Brazil to intimate nightclubs in Chicago.Performing with Carlise Guy are lead guitarist Mark Maddox, drummer Dan Henley, back-up vocalist Kenyatta Gaines, bass guitarist Michael Sterling, and keyboardist Dave Holloway.
N’DIGO sat with Carlise recently to discuss the Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest, where she and NuBlu Band will perform on Friday, August 16.
The festival offers a glimpse of the multi-cultural legacy of Rogers Park and is sponsored by the Rogers Park Business Alliance. In its 18th season, the festival features over 120 artists of all disciplines, live music with more than 30 acts, kids artmaking activities, and food and drink from local restaurants, offering a unique cultural experience for Chicago.
N’DIGO: It’s safe to say that music was always around you growing up, but did you always know you’d be involved in music or did you dream of doing something else at first?
Carlise Guy: Singing has always been a part of my life, but I have always had a passion for the legal field as well.
Assuming that your dad was one, who were some of your other musical influences?
Whitney Houston and Chaka Khan stand out the most for me, aside from my dad.
When did you definitively decide that you wanted to pursue music professionally?
I have always wanted to pursue music. It is a tough industry, though, and fear took over for me.
NuBlu Band…how did it come together and how would you describe the sound?
Long story short – I auditioned for my now best friends Mark and Dan many years ago to sing in their band and we played around Chicago for a minute. Then I returned to church and started singing in the choir. My dad would call me up on stage with him to sing a song or two when I would come out to see his performances once I was old enough. I told him I would open for him one day with my own band. I called up Dan and Mark, who were already the NuBlu Band, and here we are now!
What can fans look forward to in your performance at the upcoming Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest?
Some fun with the likes of blues by BB King, some R&B, and the throwbacks of Motown. We have a few originals in the mix to give a taste of NuBlu. We will give you the best that we got.
What’s your opinion on the importance of keeping music and arts in schools?
Music and art are one and the same for me. It is the foundation of learning. Before school, babies listen to sounds and we speak and read stories to them. We celebrate our children with song and dance while teaching them their ages as it increases, with the excitement of singing happy birthday for turning one, and two, and so on!
A child’s first five years at home are filled with song and dance, while learning to count and recognize colors while watching Sesame Street, Dora The Explorer, and Blues Clues. Their little minds are soaking in the bright bold colors, counting and clapping, and for some us, deciding to use the walls to create artwork, LOL!
There are so many tools that are learned though the arts. We have math in scales of music, defining the beautiful notes and sounds that are created when they are added together; learning how to read music and hearing sounds come from the page through instruments. It is truly an amazing thing to have as part of education.
It stimulates the creativeness that we are all born with that carries us through life. I believe that during our elementary years in school, it gives us the ultimate opportunity to learn and discovery who we are and what is our purpose is in life. Music and art allows us all to demonstrate our most personal self and capabilities. It allows us to express our strengths and weaknesses whether it is in sound, or appearing on paper – or a wall! – expressing lessons in learning or learned.
Do you have a favorite song from your dad and you sister, Shawnna?
LOL! From my dad I have a few. One that comes to mind right now is One Day Away (with Keith Urban). My sister Shawnna, Damn…LOL!
Current band members aside, who are others past or present that you’d put in your ultimate dream band?
Well, that is a tough one. I love my band members, so it is sometimes hard to see beyond them. But there are some serious female musicians out there that I would love to see as an all-female blues band – like Joanna Connor, Ivy Ford, Vanessa Collier, and Cheryl Youngblood. All very awesome players that I actually know and love their talents.
What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
Not sure. I am pretty open with who I am.
Best advice or words of wisdom for those aspiring to have a career in the music business?
Do some real soul searching and praying and know that you know this is what you want to do and that you love it. Get ready for some bumps and bruises and no matter what, stay true to yourself and others. There will be some discouraging days and they shall pass. If this is God’s purpose for you, no one can take it away. What God has for you is for you. There is more I would like to say, but time is limited.
Favorite quote or affirmation?
“Forget all your troubles, come and have a good time and live in the moment!”
What’s next for Carlise Guy and The NuBlu Band?
We are working on producing our first album/cd and some touring.