Meet Me with Your Black Drawers On: My Life in Music

Meet Me with Your Black Drawers On: My Life in Music

by Jeannie Cheatham
Meet Me with Your Black Drawers On: My Life in Music

Meet Me with Your Black Drawers On: My Life in Music

by Jeannie Cheatham



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Jeannie Cheatham is a living legend in jazz and blues. A pianist, singer, songwriter, and co-leader of the Sweet Baby Blues Band, she has played and sung with many of the greats in blues and jazz—T-Bone Walker, Dinah Washington, Cab Callaway, Joe Williams, Al Hibbler, Odetta, and Jimmy Witherspoon. Cheatham toured with Big Mama Thornton off and on for ten years and was featured with Thornton and Sippie Wallace in the award-winning PBS documentary Three Generations of the Blues. Her music, which has garnered national and international acclaim, has been described as unrestrained, exuberant, soulful, rollicking, wicked, virtuous, wild, and truthful. Cheatham's signature song, "Meet Me with Your Black Drawers On" is a staple in jazz and blues clubs across America and in Europe, Africa, and Japan.

In this delightfully frank autobiography, Jeannie Cheatham recalls a life that has been as exuberant, virtuous, wild, and truthful as her music. She begins in Akron, Ohio, where she grew up in a vibrant multiethnic neighborhood surrounded by a family of strong women. From those roots, she launched a musical career that took her from the Midwest to California, doing time along the way everywhere from a jail cell in Dayton, Ohio, where she was innocently caught in a police raid, to the University of Wisconsin-Madison—where she and Jimmy Cheatham taught music. Cheatham writes of a life spent fighting racism and sexism, of rage and resolve, misery and miracles, betrayals and triumphs, of faith almost lost in dark places, but mysteriously regained in a flash of light. Cheatham's autobiography is also the story of her fifty-years-and-counting love affair and musical collaboration with her husband and band partner, Jimmy Cheatham.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780292782686
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication date: 01/06/2023
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 436
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Jeannie Cheatham is still actively creating and performing the music she loves. Her albums include Good Nuz Bluz, Blues & the Boogie Masters, Basket Full of Blues, Luv in the Afternoon, Back to the Neighborhood, Homeward Bound, Midnight Mama, and Sweet Baby Blues.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Prologue. Brand-New Blues
  • 1. Back to the 'Hood
  • 2. The Piano
  • 3. Three Visitors
  • 4. Mr. Arthur Reginald Riley
  • 5. Funerals
  • 6. The Reverend Uncle Frank, Lessons on Men, and Finding Jesus
  • 7. The Coming of the Cold
  • 8. Summer Heat
  • 9. Wrong Direction
  • 10. The New House
  • 11. It's an Ill Wind That Don't Blow Somebody Some Good
  • 12. Yellow Cab to the Red-Light District
  • 13. Junkies and Jazz
  • 14. World War II: Let the Good Times Roll
  • 15. Just Get On the Greyhound, Girl
  • 16. The Evans Exodus
  • 17. Jailhouse Blues
  • 18. From Hell to Heaven Blues
  • 19. Snowbound
  • 20. The Song of the Colvinaires
  • 21. New Baby Blues
  • 22. A Blizzard of Birdshit
  • 23. The Colors of Many Changes
  • 24. Triumph, Tragedy, Turmoil, and Tenor Players
  • 25. A Little Love Song
  • 26. Little Mattie, Big Mama, and the Beautiful Miss M
  • 27. The Blues and the Buffalo Scuffle
  • 28. Escape from Buffalo
  • 29. New York City, Ditty-Wah-Ditty
  • 30. Fatback
  • 31. Bronx Gulag and Agoraphobia
  • 32. The Light Shineth in the Darkness
  • 33. From Hell to Academia
  • 34. Welcome to Wisconsin
  • 35. On the Move in Madison
  • 36. Movin' an' Moanin', Groovin' an' Groanin' in Madison
  • 37. The Way West
  • 38. Pipe Dreamin' in the Valley of Smoke
  • 39. A Standing O in San Diego
  • 40. Take It!
  • 41. Beelzebub and the Mad Mexican
  • 42. Make a Joyful Noise!
  • 43. New Mule Kickin' in Our Stall
  • 44. Blues on the Omnibus
  • 45. Blow Out at the Belly Up Tavern and the Birth of Three Generations of the Blues
  • 46. Mr. Jefferson Comes to Town
  • 47. The Birth of the Sweet Baby Blues Band
  • 48. Hot Bulbs and Hot Flashes
  • 49. Sturm und Drang Blues: Vienne, France
  • 50. Shoofly Pie with Shafafa in The Hague
  • 51. Chickenshit or Chicken Salad?
  • 52. How Long?
  • 53. Effluvia and Euphoria
  • 54. From Slavery to the White House
  • 55. Tears of Sorrow
  • 56. Blues like Jay McShann
  • 57. ABC: Around the World, Beyond Betrayal, Celebrations
  • 58. Livin' in the Nineties
  • 59. Making History in a Small Hotel
  • 60. Back to Bina Avenue

What People are Saying About This

Marian McPartland

Here's a breezy, light, and utterly charming tale of a musician's life with all the ups-and-downs and turns-and-twists that are a part of those of us in jazz. Jeannie Cheatham knows everybody, and she has much to say about her fellow musicians. Her descriptive style paints an unforgettable picture as she covers the last fifty years of being on the scene with her husband Jimmy and the Sweet Baby Blues Band.
Marian McPartland, jazz legend and host of the award-winning Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz, National Public Radio's longest-running and most widely carried jazz program

Debby Hastings

The truth is alive and well in Meet Me with Your Black Drawers On! I know, because I've been the legendary Bo Diddley's band leader and bass player for twenty years. Prior to that, I got to spend two incredible years playing with Jeannie Cheatham. She taught me where 'the pocket' is. This book is right in 'the pocket.'
Debby Hastings, highly acclaimed bass player for Bo Diddley and many other artists

Fred Wesley

Being an admitted, although recovering, racist and sexist when it comes to playing blues and jazz, I have been further educated and much less prejudiced after reading Jeannie Cheatham's book Meet Me with Your Black Drawers On. Jeannie's book drives home the fact that we who embrace music as a profession share common joys and common miseries. Having played with Jeannie I will never again say "plays good for a woman." I can't say she's "one of the boys," but she is definitely one of the musicians. Thanks, Jeannie, for a wonderful book from another point of view.
Fred Wesley, James Brown's former music director and author of Hit Me, Fred: Recollections of a Sideman

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