“Porretta belongs on every serious blues and soul festival-goer's bucket list, a confluence of positive forces to be honored and treasured.”
Dick Shurman, Paul Harris Living Blues 2017

ART DIRECTOR Graziano Uliani


Follow Us

Aurora Bresci


Mural #11 Soul Women

Ann Peebles

Born in Kinloch, Missouri, she made a name for herself in St. Louis clubs but it was in Memphis with Willie Mitchell productions that she exploded. Thanks to her husband Don Bryant who wrote authentic standards for her like I Can Stand The Rain and 99 Pounds. The hypnotic sound of the HI Rhythm Section and the Memphis Horns did the rest. Throughout the 1970s she was the flagship artist of HI Records, the true female counterpart of Al Green. She arrived in Porretta in 1992 to return in 1996, 2001 and 2002. she Away from the scene since 2012 due to a stroke that still prevents her from performing.

Mavis Staples

Born in 1939, he was born in Chicago and began his career at a very young age in 1949 in the family gospel group. The legendary Staple Singers. The group arrives at the Stax in memphis. achieving international success. Mavis’ first solo album is from 1969. We have lost count of how many times she has won or been nominated for Grammy Awards and Blues Awards. In 1994 she participated in the Porretta Soul Festival accompanied by her sister Yvonne, finding many musicians with whom she had recorded her great hits at the Stax. Mavis was named 56th place by Rolling Stone Magazine on their list of the 100 greatest singers of all time.

Irma Thomas

She is the undisputed Soul Queen of New Orleans, the queen of soul of New Orleans. She is a contemporary of Aretha Franklin and Etta James, she has not had the same commercial success but a much more homogeneous career. In 2007 she received the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album. After her debut in Porretta in 1997, accompanied by Memphis All Star, producer Scott Billington had the idea of having her record an album with the same musicians and in 2000 My Heart In Memphis was released, a very successful album. The 2006 Porretta Soul Festival, a year after Hurricane Katrina paid homage to the city and music of New Orleans by inviting Irma Thomas, The Neville Brothers and Davell Crawford to Rufus Thomas Park.

Millie Jackson

Aggressive, outrageous, often obscene in explicit lyrics, she is certainly one of the most important voices in soul. Born in Thompson, Georgia in 1944, she made a name for herself in a club in New Jersey to then achieve success with Hurts So Good, a song from the blaxploitation film, Cleopatra Jones. Her monologues, her harsh rap style required warning stickers in her albums. She notable her duets with Isaac Hayes and Elton John. Her interpretation of Otis Redding’s classic I ‘ve Been Loving You Too Long at 1993’s Porretta Soul is one of the festival’s highlights. She will perform again in Porretta with her daughter Keisha in 2004.

Carla Thomas

Carla Thomas is the eldest daughter of Rufus Thomas and Marvell’s sisters who for many years directed the Memphis All Star R&B Band in Porretta. Carla was the best-known female voice at Stax since her first hit Gee Whiz in 1961 and then on the album The King & The Queen with Otis Redding in 1967. The Queen, the queen of Memphis par excellence. She arrived in Porretta for the first time in 1990 to return numerous times also together with Vaneese, the younger sister who has lived in New York for a long time and was a close collaborator of Phil Ramone, with whom she conducted the choirs in several Pavarotti & Friends, duet with Luciano Pavarotti, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion has been in Aretha Franklin’s team for years.

Sugar Pie DeSanto

Born in New York in 1935 to an African-American mother and Filipino father, she soon moved to San Francisco. She and she ’she one of the last queens of rhythm & blues. Discovered by the legendary Johnny Otis, she had her first contract in 1954. In the same year she worked for James Brown’s Soul Revue then moved to Chicago’s Chess where together with Etta James she recorded the classic In The Basement, she became one of the stars of the Apollo of New York and in 1964 she is the only woman of the American Folk Blues Festival on tour in Europe together with Willie Dixon, Alcohol and drug problems, five marriages, of which twice with the same man, who dies in the fire of the their home in September 2006, after rescuing his wife. Two months later the legendary Jimmy McCracklin performs at the Biscuit Blues Club in San Francisco to raise money to help her, and on the occasion Sugar Pie goes on stage. There is also Graziano Uliani who brings her to Porretta for the first time. After her debut in Porretta in 2007 she was called back in 2008, 2011 and 2015. Porretta found her Rufus Thomas in her feminine!

Toni Green

She was born and raised in Memphis at a time when Stax Records thrilled fans around the world In the 1970s, her encounter with band leader Gene Bowlegs Miller, who called her under his wing. Lei Toni soon joined the Isaac Hayes Entourage and the Luther Ingram Band, as a backing vocalist for both bands. After an interlude in Louisville, Kentucky, she returns to Memphis where she establishes herself as an authentic Soul Diva. Her debut at the Porretta Soul Festival as queen of the twentieth edition in 2007 and her return in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016 made her a darling of Rufus Thomas Park. In 2014 the collaboration with the French band Malted Milk produced Malted Milk & Green a very successful album which was followed by some European tours. Also in 2014 in Porretta she was a guest of the Muscle Shoals All Star Band.

Chick Rodgers

Melvia Chick Rodgers-Williams was born in Memphis. She began singing in church with her father the Rev. Melvin Rodgers, former leader of the gospel group Memphis Armonizers, then grew up musically in the 1980s, becoming a soloist in the group Clockwise. The door to her musical career suddenly opened wide when she was invited. to sing in the presence of Patty LaBelle is the question that the audience asked was: How can such a great voice come out of such a small woman. In 1989 she moved to Chicago. She starts performing in famous clubs such as Blues Chicago, Kingston Mines and she is noticed by the great Koko Taylor who takes her around the world but her fame explodes after her repeated performances at the Porretta Soul Festival.


Aurora Bresci